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Visualisation - Does it work?

Updated: Oct 28, 2022

Strap in reader, this may get a teeny bit woo, which is unnerving for us all, but since we’re hot on the heels of Halloween, this particular weirdness fitted quite nicely. I recently learnt that for the Celts, the first of November marked their New Year and thus the origins of Halloween date back to this ancient festival. And as New Year is associated with new beginnings, new intentions, resolutions, all of this dovetails rather neatly into today’s subject of visualisation and why it works. It seems an apt time, were you feeling so inclined, to start visualising what it is you want and need. It is after all New Year (of a sort).

Way back in 2019 a plan was hatched in the Eynon (rugby loving) household to toddle off to a far-flung place for an international rugby tournament. Well, as with many people, plans got abandoned, and we locked down with some flight refund vouchers tucked away in an email account. Life and business move on until the day when hubby thinks he’ll just check if they had a validity date attached to them – they do, it’s imminent. What follows was a very short-lived dilemma of 'can we afford a holiday now?'… and being where we landed – for about two minutes. So naturally we are off (!) – the alternative of kissing goodbye the already invested flight funds, just not seemly acceptable. I am being flippant, I really do appreciate how very lucky I am to be able to have a holiday at all, especially right now.

Yes yes, but do get to the point!

Brace for the woo. You see I visualised the holiday months ago. I actually went looking for a picture that most appropriately represented the next holiday I wanted and once I had found it, I stuck it in my collage (yes gasp, vision board) – more on this later. Now let’s be rational, we could argue that I just longed to be on a nice beach somewhere, we could even go so far as to say that somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I remembered we had these vouchers, and I was subconsciously plotting to spend them. All true and possible. Those down with the woo may say I manifested it. Who knows, but I do know that when I work with clients on goal setting, on fulfilment and on their purpose, visualisation is a core technique.

There are two sides to this. One side is that visualisation allows our imaginations to come to the fore. The filtering and judging mind is diminished, and we are freer to see those things most important to us, our true longings, and desires. Often things that our rational brain has concluded are not possible, or we shouldn’t have. This is where we can get curious about what fulfils us and what we feel about purpose.

The other side I referred to is about goals.

You can’t be what you can’t see. Marian Wright Edelman

Defining a goal is one thing. Writing it down is immediately more powerful. Having a visual or physical prompt yet more so. Seeing yourself, visualising yourself achieving that goal is the gold star standard on the path to target achievement. So much so that it’s become a common place tool for elite sports people:

When athletes visualize or imagine a successful competition, they actually stimulate the same brain regions as you do when you physically perform that same action. Visualization in sports or mental imagery is a way of conditioning for your brain for successful outcomes.

Not many of us are professional competitors, but I do believe that visualisation can similarly be employed for the goals that the rest of us aspire to for ourselves. Do I believe in manifestation? Mmm. Well, it is a bit woo isn’t it? If I sit and concentrate on something I really really want, and I consistently visualise it, is this enough for God or the universe, or some other higher power to go “ooh well alright then” and send it to me. No, I don’t believe that. And yet I do believe visualisation works.

How so? We are hugely complex beings and while we live in the conscious mind, the subconscious mind is playing a huge part in our direction of travel. So, when I have taken the time to physically pull together my visualisations into picture form – those things that I want in my life and in my business and when I frequently reassert my intention to work towards these, to see myself “winning” that aspiration, like the sports pro running the race beforehand in their head, then I do believe that my conscious and subconscious actions and decisions are being affected and directed.

Here's my example. My earliest work on visualisation for myself was with my first coach and I was desperately trying to figure out what I was supposed to be doing in LIFE. Why was I here? What was it all for anyway? And what on earth was I supposed to be doing? And what did I come up with? One image. Me, sat outside at a small table, under a tree, with a coffee, the sun is shining, and the knowledge that this was work. I found it deeply frustrating as an exercise because it meant nothing to me. I couldn’t explain it, I didn’t know where it had come from and it didn’t, as far as I was concerned, answer ANY of my questions. Yet the image stayed with me, I still have it – it’s on my board. And I truly believe that this one image changed the course of my actions and decisions going forward – yes it took a while – about 4 years in fact, but slowly I made my way towards it, until it became a reality. I started making incremental changes that brought that image to life, even though in many cases I didn’t appreciate that was what I was doing.

My invitation therefore is to be curious and have a go. What’s the worst that can happen? And to help here’s a super simple template to get you thinking. You can keep it as words, or you can go visual and do it in pictures, change the headings to suit, add in and take away. Mine above is simply a jumble of words and images that make sense to me. It’s not going to spit you out a job title or what you should be doing, no giant finger will come from the sky and tell you the answer – but there will be meaning and messaging in it that, with time, if you stick with it, will nudge you down different paths. It’s really quite weird; but definitely not woo!

Vision Board Download
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