Sitting on my yoga mat, I was waiting for class to start. An instructor, who I had not seen before, walked in and started talking (at a decibel level not typical of yoga teachers). He sauntered past and stated, “We are going to do a little exercise before class.” He handed out a small, square piece of thick paper and a pen to each student. He said “Write one word on this piece of paper that represents something that you want to come to fruition in your life.” I could see several of the other student’s faces were conveying the same message as mine. “Why the hell aren’t we in child’s pose right now?” By the set of our instructor’s lips, we could cumulatively surmise class would not begin until we followed through. I closed my eyes and thought for a moment.

A LITTLE PIECE OF PAPER TAUGHT ME ABOUT VISUALIZATION

 

I had been under a tremendous amount of pressure the last several months. I had decided I wanted to sell my practice, and I was very excited for the next chapter. The problem was I was getting no offers. Proverbial crickets. I was starting to panic thinking I may not be able to move onto all of these wonderful things I had planned. So on my card I wrote these letters “S,” “E,” “L,” “L.”

Yogi had us hand in our cards, and then he mixed them up and handed them back to us face down. He said as he climbed over mats and people, “Whatever word you receive, focus on it for the duration of the class. Invision positive things for the person for the duration of class today.” He dropped mine on my mat.

Now there were close to sixty people in the room, so when I turned my paper over and saw my handwriting my heart leaped a little in my chest. “SELL.” Out of sixty opportunities I received my card back.

After class, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was going on here. I went home and propped up my little card in a highly visual place and got to picturing that I would sell my practice. I focused on it every day. 

Nothing happened.

I put my little card in a different place, thinking maybe it wasn’t visible enough.

Still nothing.

One day I was sitting in my office after patients, and I was in tears. The call to move onto the next chapter in my life was so strong and clear I could not understand why things were not moving forward. Then it hit me. I had written the wrong word on the card.

For years Olympians have been using visualization to create better success in their sport. When visualization was studied by Russian researchers, the following surprising results were revealed. They divided a large group of athletes into four groups of study. 

  • Group one:100% physical training
  • Group two:75% physical training, 25% mental training
  • Group three:50% physical training, 50% mental training
  • Group four:25% physical training, 75% mental training

Spoiler Alert: The scientists found that the fourth group performed the best during the Olympics.

Srinivasan Pillay M.D., a professor at Harvard explains, “We stimulate the same brain regions when we visualize an action as we do when we actually perform that same action.” That means our brains do not know the difference between actually doing something versus just thinking about it. Dozens of injured athletes have gone on to exceptional performance with the ability to train by visualization only. Sport’s psychologists agree that visualization adds a competitive edge. But the practice has to be very specific and detailed. 

One afternoon I was doing dishes in the kitchen and the little card, propped up against a glass, caught my eye. It hit me like a thunderbolt. I was going about this all wrong. I needed to be like the gold metal athletes and visualize what SUCCESS felt like. I needed to feed my brain sensory cues about what it would be like to sign the closing documents and pop a celebratory bottle of pink champagne on the top of a mountain. I was too busy focusing on the SELL instead of the SOLD.

I flipped the card over and in bold sharpie letters I wrote four letters. “S,” “O,” “L,” “D.” Now when I looked at the card I didn’t see myself in the process of selling the practice I saw the running visual of having SOLD the practice. The done deal, so to speak. A subtle difference perhaps, but every action I took after that shift was with a mindset of having already completed the goal. I prepared and trained my mind to be open and ready when it happened.

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Did my visualizing “SOLD” versus “SELL” cause me to magically attract the lovely buyers who eventually took over the practice? Some would argue yes. But, if nothing else, my conviction and confidence in the “sale being a forgone conclusion” definitely resulted in my being more decisive and clear in my actions toward that goal. 


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This week I want you to identify one of your goals that has not come to fruition. Is there a way you could visualize it more clearly? Is there doubt that needs to be addressed? Do you need to “visualize” more regularly and in more detail to get your brain chemistry tuned to making this goal a forgone conclusion?

 

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