I was on the phone all morning today trying to find a place in San Francisco that I could use for an exhibition that I'm planning. When my colleague learned about my plans, his surprised reaction was: "You are organizing an exhibition? How do you find the time or motivation to do all these many things outside of work?" – a question that I get quite frequently. While there are many factors that motivate me, I want to talk about one thing specifically which I consider extremely powerful and which is one of the key techniques that I use in my life to motivate myself for those outlandish, I-feel-so-fecking-uncomfortable-type goals — like organizing my first ever photo exhibition.
The technique I'm talking about is called "the power of visualization" (actually, I'm not sure what it's called. This is basically how I call it). What I mean by that is that oftentimes I start having a crazy idea, something that is far outside my comfort zone. For me to then go and realize that crazy idea, I start visualizing myself doing it. This visualization then becomes a source of motivation for me. Before I get into the details, let me give you a few examples.
When I turned 27 this past December (dang, time flies!), I suddenly had this crazy idea to invite all my local friends and cook Persian food for them. "All my local friends" turned out to be 25+ people. To make my case: I had never ever cooked Persian before. But that didn't matter. I visualized myself doing it. In my mind, I was preparing those Kebabs like a master chef and I was seeing how folks were enjoying themselves and enjoying the food. For many days I imagined doing it until I was absolutely determined to pull it off. I read up on it, I watched YouTube videos, I had my aunts call me and give me tips. My mind was set on success. And so I pulled it off.
Visualization is also what drives me to learn languages. I imagine myself being in Brazil and talking to people in fluent Portuguese. Visualizing myself doing something motivates me. But not only that, it also impacts my actions. Best example is tennis. When the ball comes towards me, I don't think too much about how I'm going to take the ball, whether my feet are positioned correctly and if I'm all well-balanced. For a short moment I see myself taking the ball perfectly, a perfect swing, the right force. And often enough, it just works. This technique is also what I apply to my photography. If you are interested in learning more about the (visualization) story behind the picture that UPS licensed from me, you can read it here.
So, why is that? Your mind can be your worst enemy and your biggest friend. It's important to know how to make it work in your favor. Think of your thoughts as a powerful instrument that can change the balance of the energy around you. A focused thought, which is a thought that is "soaked with emotional energy" (in other words: mental attention), has the power to change the environment around you, to influence your circumstances, to cause you to act in a never-seen-before way. It can change your attitude towards things.
By visualizing yourself doing something specific, you eventually change your reality. There is nothing material or supernatural going on, but simply the alteration of the mental attention you pay to something and the confidence in your abilities. Visualization programs your brain for success. It allows you to gather the mental resources you need to achieve what you are imagining. Simplified: your thoughts shape your attitude and your attitude influences your reality. And as I wrote in my previous article on this blog, it's also your attitude that will send high vibrations which, in return, will attract other things with high vibrations (in this case the people, resources, and circumstances you will need to achieve your goals). You know how they say "fake it till you make it"? That idea is not much different.
Does it really work? Arnold Schwarzenegger (my childhood idol, #NoShame) says that "it's all in the mind". He won the Mr. Universe title five times, is a successful real estate tycoon, Hollywood star, and former governor of California (each of these ideas being completely our of his comfort zone one would imagine). There was a time when the only thing Arnold had was the belief that his mind was what he needed to achieving where he wanted to achieve.
“The mind is really so incredible. Before I won my first Mr. Universe title, I walked around the tournament like I owned it. I had won it so many times in my mind, the title was already mine. Then when I moved on to the movies I used the same technique. I visualized daily being a successful actor and earning big money." — Arnold Schwarzenegger.