A couple of days before I received the phone call from a Google recruiter, I watched how the Google London offices looked on YouTube and I imagined myself working there.
The month before I got my first paying coaching client, I described my coaching business on a piece of paper.
Three months before I got the call from a Penguin editor, I added an image of writing a book on my vision board. My first book is coming out in April.
I had visualized all the cool things I created in my life. What about you? Did you first imagine the great things or did they catch you by surprise?
Natan Sharansky, was in solitary confinement in USSR after being accused of spying for U.S. In his cell, he decided to practice playing chess mentally and use the opportunity to become a world champion. Remarkably, in 1996, Sharansky beat world champion chess player Garry Kasparov!
Plenty of studies show that mental practice has physical effects. Scientists found that people exercising in their heads improved muscle strength by 30%. Athletes have been using visualization for ages including legends like Tiger Woods and Mohamed Ali.
Our mind has a remarkable power to create new realities. A clear vision makes us more open to the right ideas and opportunities.
Given the amount of data on the benefits of visualization, why don’t most people practice it?
One reason is that we are too absorbed reacting to the urgent rather than focusing on the important. Crafting a vision requires us to step away from the day to day and many of us keep ourselves too busy for that. The price we pay is that we spend time doing the wrong things.
Another reason is that we are too afraid that if we get clear on what we want, we will feel the pain of not having it. That is not true. I have observed that when we desire something we also have the capacity to achieve it. Having an inspiring vision pulling us forward will give us more joy and energy in the present, not more pain.
What’s more, a vision is not about sacrificing the present for the future. In reality, it is not even about achieving whatever we put in our minds to achieve. Rich Litvin said a goal is a place you come from, not a place you go to.
The benefit of a vision is that we need to become the person who can achieve this thing we want. We shift our identity to be able to do and have greater things. We let our creativity flow as we go about creating something that does not exist now. What could be more fun?
The benefit of a vision is not just the end result. It is the daily practice and mindset we adopt because of the vision.
A sign that you have done a good job defining your vision is that you may feel embarrassed to share it with some friends and family members. You are afraid that it sounds too grandiose or too unreasonable. If that happens to you, you are on the right track.
George Bernard Shaw said: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
Paypal co-founder and investor Peter Thiel asks one question to identify someone who is a promising leader: “What important truth do very few people agree with you on?”
If the future is to look different from today, it will be created by the people whose ideas we consider unreasonable right now.
When you are creating your vision, tap into the unconventional truths you believe in. Do not be afraid to be contrarian. Then surround yourself with other ambitious misfits to fight the loneliness that comes with being a pioneer.