Visualizing success to be more successful. Does it work?Success-05

According to many authors, visualizing your future success will make you more successful. Close your eyes and imagine how it will be if your presentation is really successful. See where you will stand, what your audience will look like, how they will react and how you will feel. Or better still: think what your success will look like trough the eyes of your audience. By visualizing your success, you will be more confident, you will overcome your fears and you will be more successful. At least, that’s the idea. But is it true?

A short experiment.

In order to feel the effect, try this: stand up, spread your arms and look at one of your hands. Left or right. Then turn your body in that direction until you start to feel some resistance. Then look over your hand and see how far you turned. Now lower your arms and close your eyes. With your eyes closed, imagine yourself doing the same exercise again. But this time, you imagine yourself turning further and further and further… Now open your eyes again, spread your arms and turn until you feel resistance… how far did you get? Exactly… a lot further… By visualizing success, you have programmed yourself to achieve more.

And what does science say?

Scientific research supports the idea that positive visualizations have a positive effect. Especially visualizing success from a third-person rather than a first-person perspective will have a positive effect on your motivation. (Vasquez & Buehler: Seeing future success, Personality and social psychology bulletin 33(10), Oct 2007, p1392-1405)

But, beware! Positive fantasies of success can also trick our brain into a relaxation response that lowers energy levels, eventually leading to poorer result. (Kappes & Oettingen: Positive fantasies about idealized futures sap energy, Journal of experimental psychology, 47(4), July 2011, p 719-829)

Conclusion: Visualizing success is beneficial when used on top of the normal effort and preparation, but don’t allow positive fantasies to lower your alertness or preparation.

Ed Gruwez