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THE PURPOSE & POWER OF A PERSONAL VISION STATEMENT
Research has shown visioning can help to reduce stress, heal PTSD, clarify and focus decision-making, increase motivation and enhance performance.
It all hinges on a process of deliberate and focused imagination technique called 'visualization'.
The Power of Imagination
Imagine more easily navigating the choices you encounter, especially during difficult transitions.
Imagine being able to stay motivated to stick to goals you set.
Imagine moving with ease towards the dreams you have in life.
Imagine feeling clearer, calmer and in balance.
That’s the point of a personal vision statement.
When the why is clear,
the how is easy
What Happens to Our Brains and Bodies When We Use Visualization
HOW IT WORKS
When we engage in active imagination, or visualization, our brains generate more of something called alpha waves, which means we experience increased relaxation, focus & pleasure, and reduce pain, stress & anxiety.
Visualization lowers activity in the emotional centers of the brain and raises activity in the areas of the brain that allow us to voluntarily control our thoughts and feelings.
Neuroscientists have discovered two very fundamental properties of the brain that help us understand how visualization works the way that it does.
1. Firstly, our brains think in pictures.
2. Secondly, our brains often cannot distinguish whether we are imagining something or actually experiencing it.
What that means is that if we create an image in our mind then we stimulate the same brain regions and create the same neural pathways as if we were actually doing it.
So thinking about moving your hand is – to your brain – the same exact thing as literally moving your hand.
Specifically, this happens in an area of the brain called the thalamus, which deals in sensory processing. Every sensation, mood, and thought passes through it.
When activity is increased in the thalamus, it is the first step in something seeming neurologically real, which starts motivating other parts of the brain to change and to take action.
As the author Dr. Joseph Murphy put it in his 1963 book The Power of Your Subconscious Mind:
“The feeling of health produces health; the feeling of wealth produces wealth.”
3 REASONS WHY
Biomarkers of stress have been shown to be improved through imagination alone.
Visualization can even trigger physical changes to muscle and tissue.
Imagining stimulates the thalamus in our brains and creates new neural pathways.
How to Start Consciously Activating Your Imagination
HARNESSING YOUR MIND
Crafting a personal vision statement can begin with a process of imagining called visualization.
Our brains already constantly use visualization in the process of simulating future experiences.
It's just that this process normally happens subconsciously, like breathing.
But visualizing is something you can also choose to spend conscious time on, productively imagining.
Harnessing and developing this tool is powerful, because imagination has been shown by neuroscience and research to be a powerful tool each of us has at our disposal to take more control over our wellbeing.
It's been shown that picturing the steps towards a goal, future life or achievement is essential in harnessing this power effectively.
One way of visualising the steps to your ideal future or goal effectively is to visualize choice points.
A choice point is a fork in the road moment when your actions will either lead you toward your goal or away from it. That either equals more traction, or more distraction.
So if you’re trying to build calmer, more communicative and more connected relationships, visualize the choice point you’ll face when someone does or says something that gets you angry or annoyed. Mentally rehearse what the scene will look like and what you will do and say, in advance to stay calm and moderate your response.
The trick is focus on the path that will lead you to that point, not the outcome itself. What will it feel like along the way? What might you need to do or not do?
It's like a golfer visualizing the whole swing, not just the moment the ball goes into the hole.
For visualization to be most effective, you need to literally see it.
So it can be helpful to spendsome time with your eyes closed imagining the scene, drawing a picture, creating a Pinterest board, creating a vision board out of magazine cuttings or anything that visually supports your vision or goal.
As an example, when Jim Carey was only a struggling comic, he visualized having a successful and lucrative acting career.
To make his vision concrete, in the 1970s he wrote himself a check for $10 million for "acting services rendered" dated for Thanksgiving of 1995, which he placed in his wallet. By 1995, Carey was already an established comedic actor commanding far more than $10 million per picture.
Writing down a personal vision statement or creating a vision board can be a powerful thing
Steps to Creating
Your Vision Statement
Pick 5 Core Values
When you identify and know your values clearly, you can craft a clearer picture of an ideal future.
Even a few minutes spent imagining can help you access and clarify your vision.
Locking your vision statement into a written sentence, or depicting it on a mood board is a key step.
Pick 5 Core Values
Tapping into your vision can be easier when you’re clear on and honor what's truly important to you: in other words, when you understand your personal values.
That’s because some of life's tough decisions about where you want to go are really about figuring out what you value most.
Although our values are usually fairly stable throughout our lives, they can evolve.
Things that were important to you in the past may not be anymore. For example, earning a high salary versus nurturing more work-life balance.
Taking some time to understand the true priorities in your life as they are today, even if you think you’ve done this in the past, can help you find the way forward that serves you best.
When you know your own values, you can use them to make decisions about how to live your life, and make it an easier process answer questions like:
What balance is right in my life?
Should I accept this offer?
Should I take the risk?
Should I compromise?
In other words, questions that can help you craft that end vision.
Reserving a few minutes for calm reflection before writing it can help you access and clarify your idea about how you want to feel.
What’s interesting, is that some data shows that visualizing the process to achieving a goal is more likely to make us take those steps, rather than just picturing the end result.
Close your eyes and spend a minute imagining the future.
Imagine yourself being 90 years old, and having lived a dream life.
What were the steps along the way that you accomplished?
How do these accomplishments make you feel?
What you are most proud of?
Open your eyes and write down a few sentences about how that future you had lived their life: what was true for them? What motivated them?