In recent times, I have learned just how important it is to visualize what you want to accomplish before taking action. Visualizing it builds the motivation to pursue it. It’s important to see it first!
Our society values doing over being and busyness over stillness. However, it’s been my experience that sitting with the vision helps me to develop successful strategy and the clear steps to move forward into action. There is something to be said for taking things slowly enough to construct a vivid picture of what success would look like.
I’ve wanted to start swimming again for a few years now. Let me introduce this early: I am not a great swimmer. In fact, I am afraid to be in the water deep enough to be over my head. Borderline terrified. Every summer for the past few summers, I would survey my local gym for swim lessons. For the most part, either the overall timing was not conducive to my schedule or the specific class times I needed were unavailable. This summer, though, the urge was the greatest it’s ever been. I knew I had to do it and stop talking about doing it.
I had lessons before, albeit many years ago. Consequently, I could swim some. The issue is I cannot tread water, and my breathing technique could use some honing. I began imagining what it would feel like to swim laps. I had always admired individuals who could swim seemingly with little effort, as though they were one with the water.
One day, I decided to visit the pool at my local gym to see how it was. No pressure . . . just data. I looked it over and discovered that it was only 4-1/2 feet deep. I thought, Okay, that’s a win! For the next few visits to the gym, I would stop by the pool to see how busy it was, when the class times were, what the locker room looked like, etc. Again, just data. On my last visit, I stood there and pictured myself swimming up and down the lane without fear because I can stand in 4-1/2 feet of water. I pictured myself having the courage to do it and being successful at it. After all, what was the worst that could happen? Perhaps my technique was rustier than I had remembered. So I decided I would do it the next visit and planned the actionable steps to make it happen.
With this experience, I learned a few things: I still remembered how to breathe somewhat effectively, and I learned that envisioning is important.
For whatever change you want to make or new challenge you want to scale, here are six steps that will help you accomplish it.
- As you may have guessed, you must envision it. Having a clear vision for what you would like to see happen is crucial as a first step. This step alone builds motivation and an inward momentum. You must see yourself successfully accomplishing the task. What does the end result look like? (successful swimming)
- Collect data. Obviously, we have to do more than visualize success. What’s necessary to survey or compile so that we have the information we need to move forward? The data helps us to know what may be advantages, obstacles, distractions, etc. Data are the things we must consider. (touring the pool and assessing the surroundings)
- Plan the 20%. The Pareto Principle teaches that 80% of the outputs come from 20% of the inputs. In other words, ask yourself of all the things you are doing, which comprise the crucial 20% to support your journey in achieving the goal. What are the essentials? (gathering swimming supplies (swim cap, goggles, etc.), checking to make sure there were no classes scheduled, managing the transition from a dry workout to a wet one and back to dry again, etc.)
- Tell somebody. Get encouragement from people who want the best for you. Everyone will not believe in you, and that should be expected. You only need a few people to remind you that you can do it. Others may see things in us that we may not see in ourselves. They help us to be courageous enough to try. (discussed it with my spouse and a few friends)
- Do it. There comes a time when there is nothing left but to do it. It’s scary, but you’re more prepared than you realize. Taking a courageous step builds confidence. Sitting on the sideline does not. (I got in the pool and swam)
- Celebrate. When you finish, don’t forget to celebrate your success. Don’t wait until the entire vision is realized perfectly, celebrate with each incremental success! Celebration also builds motivation and momentum. (I texted my spouse and a few friends who knew this was an aspiration and posted to social media)
What happened next? I returned the next day to swim again. Not able to do laps yet, but it is forthcoming.
What do you see as a possibility for you? Where is your life could you use these 6 steps to move you forward? Don’t let your dreams die because you do not have a plan. Learn to deconstruct the vision to develop viable, tangible, specific steps to achieve it.
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