Friday, March 9, 2012

Checkmate! ... It's about Visualization, ya baby!

Most people are in a desperate hunt for "that thing" that they can buy or that person that will just make everything better. 

This thing or person somehow will fix or facilitate accomplishing all that your heart desires. When this happens, they (you) are simply seeking an external resolve to an internal problem. Why do this? 

Simply put, when you lose passion for something, for someone, or fail time and time again, it is generally due to the fact that you (or they) have eased up and stopped challenging yourself; you've stopped practicing. 

We lose sight of the plan when we stop thinking about it every day or planning for it. In my mind this happens because of one of the following reasons:
  1. Lack of earnest commitment in the beginning.
  2. After enough practice and planning, things become easier, we then fail to recognize we need to step it up a notch; or even re-evaluate the plan based on growth and development. 
  3. You over-do it because you were too impatient and then you burn yourself out.
  4. Visualizing the end result isn't applied.

This is where we stagnate and lose our edge. In other words, this is where we start to lose sight and think the plan is failing. Or you may think that you are failing and either quit or look for an additional external quick fix.

Here's exactly why it's critical to make a plan. Set your goals continually, review them often and visualize how these practice sessions will help you achieve your innermost desires.

The aforementioned applies to relationships, fitness, general health, work, school and more. All four of the above mentioned points are equally important. But I wanted to really point out the second and fourth.

After enough practice and planning things become easier, we then fail to recognize we need to step it up a notch; or even reevaluate the plan based on growth and development. 

Once you practice enough (even with big passions) we tend to get a little lazy. If you did this in a job setting you would get fired eventually. 

However in a professional athlete's world, this is where their trainer will kick it up a notch. You see, you've created a solid base of talent and endurance. It's at this moment you've now really got something to work with. 

This is where the pianist laughs at the days of struggling through the Thompson Piano Books while being frustrated as they prepare for a performance of George Gershwin's Rhapsody In Blue. All of the sudden the old adage of "practice makes perfect" really resonates. 

Even to maintain status quo, there's a level of intermittent challenges that must be endured. We practice fifty-two weeks out of the year, so that we can give a solid performance periodically throughout the year simply to maintain.

Visualizing the end result. This is how we get to the next level mentioned in my previous point. How bad do you want it? 

Have you taken time to mentally visualize yourself actually doing the thing you want to do? This is easier said than done. 

Visualization can sometimes require just as much discipline as practice and planning, if not more - probably because it's that critical. 

The pianist probably listened to Rhapsody In Blue countless times with eyes closed. Hands were pictured playing it as the music progressed. 

This is where the athlete imagined the feel of their body in some position or another in the event. The athlete even has a good idea when to expect complete exhaustion and has pictured what to do to keep moving. 

This is where the Executive makes a masterful play in the office and gets the budget they need approved in order to do amazing things for their employees, as well as for the company.

In order to succeed in these of course, you will have to define your level of commitment (point one) so that you can layout the best plan and follow it. In constantly re-evaluating the plan you also reduce the risk of doing too much too soon thus burning out (point three).

My next plan is to get comfortable submerging my head under water (short term goal), so that I can become a better swimmer (mid-range goal). 

I would like to compete in a triathlon (big goal). It's taken me a long time to just get in the water. A good chunk of time was used to walk around in the water to overcome the feeling of panic. 

I'm now doing simple strokes, but I freak out every time water gets in my nose and mouth. BUT, I have seen me fully engaged in swimming in my minds' eye. It wasn't until I could visualize each of these steps that I could challenge the fear(s) and then do them. I will do this.

What's on your list?

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