Visualizing for Results, Part 1

Stever’s 3 easy tips on making visualization work for you.

Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #188

I have a secret. Actually, I have a copy of The Secret, the book that sold a gazillion copies. It was all about visualizations, affirmations, and the “Law of Attraction.” The idea was simple: visualize what I want, feel what it feels like to have it, and voila! Secret universal vibrations would zip into the ether, track down what I want, and bring it back to me. It’s a cosmic ATM with a delivery boy and no withdrawal limit. What could be better?

My parents used the Law of Attraction when I was a kid. They'd write, "We’re rich and enjoying our money" on pieces of paper and stick them to their mirror. Then they went out and spent my college fund. So I guess it worked…for them. (To be fair, my Dad did chip in during freshman year, with the cash back bonus from his Neiman Marcus loyalty card.)

Scientists want a cosmic ATM as much as we do, so they’ve studied affirmations. In the book 59 Seconds, author Richard Wiseman shares the research. Since scientists aren't paid very well, they've researched this one a lot.

The results: Turns out, that when you imagine having what you want, you are actually less likely to get it! This is true for weight control, romance, and career success. And what do most self-help programs tell us to do? Imagine feeling as if we've already reached our goal. That doesn't work, so then we have to come back to buy more self-help. I guess it does work…for them.

In fact, research shows that when we feel like we have what we want, we're less motivated to pursue it, and we're less likely to persevere when the going gets rough. Reader Bernice—a huge fan of the Law of Attraction—is hollering from the next room, "You do not understand spirituality. The Goddess defies measurement!" The Goddess may defy measurement, but scientists don’t. And in their pursuit of the cosmic ATM, they’ve found some strategies that do work and make us more likely to reach our goals.

Here are 3 Quick and Dirty Tips for effective visualizations:

Tip #1: Visualize Your Efforts, Not the End Result

Do imagine, but don’t imagine having the goal. Imagine yourself taking the steps necessary to reach it. If you want to make it on Broadway, don’t imagine being on stage taking your bow. Imagine yourself going to auditions, practicing your singing, and running your dance combinations. Instead of programming your brain to think “I’m there!” you’re programming your brain to do the work that will get you there.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.