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Visualize for Success
When you see yourself in your mind's eye doing something, do you imagine accomplishments, tributes and triumphs or flops, failures and fiascos?

Visualizing can work for us or against us. It depends on what we picture-success or failure. We've all heard the saying 'Practice makes perfect'. Actually, only perfect practice makes perfect. And where is the only place we can practice perfection? In our mind's eye.

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Every time we practice perfection in our mind's eye, we establish and strengthen the neural pathways in our brain. If we visualize correctly, the brain will not distinguish between a physical performance and a mental performance. This makes mental practice as good as actual physical practice! In fact, we will improve faster with repeated mental rehearsal because we won't be imprinting our mistakes and the 'not quite perfects' that are inevitable with physical practice. The more we practice perfection through mental rehearsals, the stronger the neural pathways will become and the better we will perform when the time comes.

Sports people and athletes have been visualizing for years. In fact, one of the world's top golfers, Jack Nicklaus, puts 50 per cent of his success down to visualization.

Do you think visualizing is too hard? Here is how to do it.

Verbalize it
a) Set yourself a clear and challenging goal, the kind of goal you would like to pursue. It can be a general goal, such as projecting a positive image at a meeting, or a specific goal-for example, the exact movements of a golf swing. Be as clear as you can about what you want.

Visualize it
b) Relax. This will make your brain more receptive to establishing and strengthening the neural pathways.
c) Focus all your attention on the task at hand.
d) Imagine your goal in as much detail as you can. See in your mind's eye everything involved: the location, circumstances, other people who will be present and so on. These serve as mental cues.

Emotionalize it
e) Involve your emotions. How does achieving your goal perfectly and excellently feel? Involving your emotions strengthens the neural pathways.

Revise it
f) Visualize the same thing over and over.
g) Rehearse mentally every time you have a spare moment, at least three times a day: when you wake up, before going to sleep, and at least once more during the day.

Repeat steps b to e before the actual event.

According to Karl Pibram, a neuro-physiologist at Stanford University, mental rehearsal stimulates the neurology and results in micro muscle movements. It helps us embrace a level of performance that we may otherwise reject. It establishes in our minds what we see, hear and feel in practice and so provides a clear target at which to aim.

Here's another step-by-step guided visualization.

Pinpoint your goal.

1. Identify a clear goal with a tangible result.

Set up the mental screen.

2. Set up a mental screen and watch yourself achieving your goal as if you were seeing yourself on TV or a cinema screen. See and hear what is occurring on the screen.

3. Adjust the 'controls' for brightness, distance, focus, color, size, volume, tone and tempo until you can see and hear clearly. (The distance should be such that you can watch yourself objectively.) If you have trouble seeing and hearing yourself achieving the goal, get a 'sense' of doing it.

4. Relax while you see and hear yourself achieving your goal. Identify the specific inner resource(s) you need.

5. As you watch yourself achieving your goal, think about what works and what doesn't. Identify the inner, or personal, resources you are drawing on to achieve this peak performance. For example: confidence, a positive attitude, a sense of joyfulness, an awareness of other people's^ feelings, seeing things from someone else's point of view, breathing calmly and deeply. Write this down.

If it's difficult to identify the inner resources you need, here are three other ways:

(i) Think of a time when you did something similar that worked really well. What inner resources did you use then?

(ii) Who do you know that does this really well that you can use as a role model? Mentally watch your role model achieve your goal. See exactly how she or he does it. What resources is your role model using? Now replace your role model with yourself. Use those same resources.

(iii) Pretend you have the personal qualities you need-act as if you already possess them. What inner resources are you calling on?

6. Keep watching the screen as you achieve your goal exactly the way you want to. Draw purposefully on those inner resources you need. See the details-what is happening? Fine-tune anything you need to.

Do the reality check.

7. How do you know you are achieving your goal exactly the way you want to? What could go wrong in real life?

8. Run through your mental movie again, this time encountering the problem and fixing it. Do this as many times as you need to until you have met and successfully dealt with anything that might realistically go wrong. If you need more inner resources, go back to step 5.

Live run.

9. Run your mental movie again. Now step into it, so that instead of watching yourself, you are looking out through your own eyes and hearing yourself achieve your goal through your own ears. What are you doing? How are you feeling? What are you saying and how are you saying it? Be yourself in your mind's eye as you achieve your goal and experience it fully.

10. Make sure it 'feels right'. Make any changes you need to until you are fully satisfied.

Advance-with affirmations

We can consciously program our subconscious with positive thoughts and instructions through affirmations. These are short, simple, easy-to-remember instructions phrased as strong, positive present-tense statements that focus our actions and communications to get the results we want. The more we repeat them, the more strongly we program our subconscious to find ways to make it so.

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Affirmations are best repeated when the brain is in a relaxed state and more receptive—when you first wake up and as you are falling asleep. We can strengthen them by feeling the emotion and seeing the affirmation as reality in our mind's eye.

Alone, affirmations will not change our behavior. But used with other steps we take, they can help to improve our results dramatically.

Source of Reference:
Kris Cole, Crystal Clear Communication : Skills for Understanding and Being Understood , Prentice Hall. You can obtain this fine book here