Visualization: A Low Cost, Highly Effective Cognitive Tool to Reach Your Personal Goals
The human imagination costs nothing and can be an effective tool for relaxation and stress management. Our brains and
bodies can naturally be soothed by merely thinking of peaceful, positive, pleasant experiences. Visualization can be used to
comfort an unpleasant emotion. It can be used in preparation for a stressful event such as surgery, to attain a professional
goal, even to prepare for a difficult conversation with a friend or family member.
Research suggests that humans use
their imaginations less as they age.
Reading a study by UC Berkeley
psychologists, they found that adults
resorted to less creative thought
processes than children, largely because,
by attaining more experiences in life,
adults tend to form patterns of thoughts
and behaviors. The study reiterated that
by understanding our adult tendencies,
we can learn to get back to being
creative and using our imaginations
like children. (Gopnik et al.2017)
Visualization is the practice of imagining
what you want to achieve in the future.
Visualization uses all five senses and by
practicing, you can bring the emotional
benefits of attaining your desired
outcome to the present moment.
Practice visualization today by setting
aside five to ten minutes to focus on
a personal goal you wish to achieve.
First write out what you want in detail,
incorporating all five senses, add many
details. The more you can feel what
it might be like to attain your goal,
the more motivated you’ll be to attain
it. Imagine setbacks because it is a
reality that there will likely be setbacks.
Ask yourself how you will overcome
the setbacks and imagine yourself
overcoming them. Make time to visualize
in your day and take actions to attain
what you have visualized.
Guided imagery practices are a good
way to practice if you have difficulty
engaging in your own personal
visualization. YouTube is a great resource
to find many guided imagery practices.
As individuals we must control the
controllable; our challenge is to find
cognitive tactics that help us through
our own human experience. Consider
visualization as a tactic to incorporate
into the management of your human
Gopnika, A. O’Gradya, S. Lucasb, C.G. Griffithsa,
T. Wentea, A. Bridgersc. A. Aboodyd, R.
Funga, H. and Dahle, R.E. (2017) Changes in
cognitive flexibility and hypotheses search
across human life history from childhood to
adolescence to adulthood. Department of
Psychology, University of California, Berkeley,