You’ve probably heard that visualization can help you obtain the results you want in your career. Maybe you heard someone refer to it as the Law of Attraction. Or perhaps you received this information from some esoteric source or funny looking YouTube video. Well, the truth is that goal visualization actually works for those who practice it.
I know the idea that your thoughts can alter your reality could sound as if we are getting into the mystical and magical realm. A place where thoughts and imagination, with the aid of some plants and incense maybe, will get you anything you want. But we are not talking about anything magical here… we’re talking about reality. You don’t really need the incense, though.
The fact is that numerous studies have proven that imagination and action trigger the exact same neural pathways. In other words, the same brain regions are stimulated both when we think of an action and when we do it. Even to the point of generating muscle mass! Think about it like this: whether you are dreaming that a bear is chasing you, or a bear is actually chasing you in real life, your body will inevitably release adrenaline and your heart will pump faster. Even if in reality you are just lying in bed.
So with that, let’s dive into the neuroscience of visualization and how it actually works…
How visualization works in the brain
Set yourself a plausible short term goal and picture yourself in a world where you have already achieved it. Begin to think about how it feels and what you’re doing in that scene. The first thing that occurs when you begin visualizing this scenario is that your visual cortex is triggered. Your brain begins to experience it almost as if it were really happening. In this case, for you brain, you already became that person who achieved their goal.
A study called “Comparing Perception and Imagination at the Visual Cortex” (2012) conducted by Dickinson’s College Deana Maryann Vitrano confirms this. In their experiment, the brain activity of the visual cortex for 30 subjects was recorded in order to compare the activity during imagination versus visual perception. The results showed that both imagined patterns and seen images produced similar waveforms pointing to their conclusion that the visual cortex is activated similarly during both activities.
What happens next is that parietal lobe is triggered. The parietal lobe–which is located on the top of your brain going down the sides of it–controls what we call the “sense of self”. It defines who you are and where you are in space, as well as how you view your self-image physically and emotionally.
When your sense of self is altered by the thoughts you have about yourself, something interesting happens. Your left prefrontal cortex, which controls behavior, is engaged and your behavior is modified in alignment with the new positive self-belief. Maybe it’s just a slight change, but at the beginning that’s all you need.
Visualizing your morning routine
So imagine that the short term goal you just set yourself is to start a 15 minute morning routine– don’t get too greedy in the beginning. Every night before you fall asleep, you start seeing yourself waking up the next morning 15 minutes earlier than usual.
You visualize what you are going to do with those 15 extra minutes; how your life is going to change for the best. You feel great about many things: you are getting up earlier, you are being more productive, you are beginning your day with a positive energy that influences the rest of your day. (Remember, this is all happening inside your mind, but you are actually feeling good.) So you fall asleep and wake up the next morning with the knowledge that if you get up and do your 15 minute morning routine you will feel wonderful.
And then that’s exactly what you do.
You wake up 15 minutes earlier, do the morning routine, and have an amazing day. Your thoughts helped you mold your reality in a way that was convenient for you. Your brain accepted these thoughts and processed them physiologically to create a new habit.
Try visualization out!
You can apply this same principle to anything in your life. Try it if you don’t believe me. I didn’t believe in these ideas myself until I started doing research and began applying these techniques. They really work, and the neuroscience behind it explains why.
If you want to learn more about visualization and how to apply it in business, be sure to sign up for my 7 Day Visionary Program where you will dive into visualization and a deeper understanding of yourself.
Jaron is the creator of Visionary, the CEO of Influential Capital and an evangelist for the lightworker cause. He is a strong proponent of meditation and non-duality. Jaron previously founded Coinsetter, one of the first digital asset exchanges launched in 2012, and acquired Cavirtex, a leading exchange in Canada—both acquired by Kraken in 2016. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Jaron was an evil investment banker.