Look around you. Unhealthy people abound. Some are overweight. Some have high blood pressure. Some can’t walk a simple flight of stairs without assistance. All of them “want” to be healthier or more fit, but few have a true vision of what their new and improved self will look like.
Every good plan starts with a vision, and that’s the focus of this post.
I’m asking you to get clear on a vision of what your health will look like 6 months from now. Don’t even concern yourself yet with how you’ll get there. That will come. For now just focus on the end product. You’ll never get from point A to point B if you have no idea where point B is.
Start by writing down some of the things that you would like to change about your health or fitness. Then note any improvements, traits, or characteristics you would like to embody if you could just snap your fingers and make it so.
Here are some simple questions you can ask yourself to help clarify your vision:
What will my energy level be like?
How will my clothes fit differently?
How will my productivity increase?
How will I interact differently with those around me?
What new things or adventures will I physically be able to participate in?
What new healthy foods will I enjoy eating?
How will my attitude about facing the day’s challenges change?
How will I be able to impact others more positively?
Once you’ve finished with your personal character development, it’s time to start visualizing your future self. Science has shown us that when you visualize with enough clarity, emotion, and consistency, your mind can’t distinguish between reality and your visualization. Have you ever watched an Olympic athlete just prior to his big event? Chances are you’ll see him with his eyes closed and literally putting his body through the motions of his event, seeing his performance in great detail, exactly as he wishes it to play out.
Find a quiet place where you can be alone. Get comfortable, close your eyes, and start visualizing your future self. Use vivid imagery, colors, and sounds. Feel the way you would feel in your new, healthy body. Try to visualize in 1st person, where you are actually immersed in the image and viewing and experiencing it first hand. Repeat the process when you close your eyes to go to sleep at night.
I’m not suggesting that visualization itself will change your life. Certainly there is a ton of practical application of knowledge, work and commitment, game planning, follow through, etc. But the point is to start by improving your image of yourself, so that it is the underlying force behind your actions. By identifying with a healthier you, you will begin to bring things into your life that are more congruent with your new self image. You will be less likely to reach for the donut if it doesn’t fit into your new picture. You will value exercise as a means to an end, rather than a singular torturous chore.
Visualization is a powerful tool that is underutilized. At the very least, visualization gives you reason to reassess your current action patterns and consider their impact on your future health. And in our fast paced world of immediate action and reaction, we could all benefit from a little constructive forethought.
*Image credits to Salvatore Vuono and arztsamui @ freedigitalphotos.net