Visualisation – the Key to Performance

Visualisation isn’t only for writers. And if you are a writer, it is not only for your writing. Steven Covey suggests that we spend a few minutes each day in visualization. He recommends that before starting to write, or before tackling any major project, you should sit down and think your way through the process. Let’s look at this from a writer’s perspective.

First relax for a few minutes. Then imagine yourself starting to write (or whatever your project involves). Pick up your pen, or sit in front of the computer and open your word processing programme. See yourself filling the page with words. If negative thoughts come crashing in, Covey recommends you deal with them by replacing them with affirmations.

It can work like this:

I sit quietly and see myself working on my computer. Suddenly my “internal editor” pops up and says, “That’s no good. You need to word that differently.”

I reply, “I am busy on my first draft. That’s allowed to be no good. I’ll continue and later come back and turn it into something wonderful.”

Your phone beeps, telling you there’s a text message. In your imagination, you decide to ignore it. You refuse to stop for any distractions, whether they come from outside or from inside. You visualise yourself happy and excited by the way the words are pouring onto the paper or screen. You see yourself finishing the work—in record time. You feel wonderful. You always knew you could achieve this, and in such good time too!

When you then sit down to write for real, or you tackle that difficult project, you are no longer tense about whether you can manage or not. You know you can! And you know how good it will feel.

This is not unique to Steven Covey. People have been using these techniques for centuries, even though few have any idea how it works. Perhaps you have a colicky baby. Next time you’re pacing the floor, desperately trying to stop the screaming and bring calm to your shattered nerves, stop a moment. What are you visualising? Do you see the baby’s Francine little body twisting in pain? Do you see yourself getting more and more frazzled as you try to find a solution? Try to imagine the baby’s screams fading as the little one closes his eyes. His face relaxes in peace, and he drifts off to sleep. Of course that’s not so easy to do in the middle of a screaming fit, so this is a good exercise to practice when he is asleep. Then next time you hear that piercing scream, you will be less stressed—and your tension won’t affect the baby.

Are you an artist? Spend five minutes before you start to pain, visualising the process. See yourself putting the paint onto the board. Allow yourself to feel delight at the picture that appears in front of you. Admire the finished work. Then pick up your brush and get to work. You can do this! You already did . . . in your mind.