The Easiest Motivation Technique You Haven't Tried Yet

By , SparkPeople Blogger
When it comes to goal-setting, I’ve been around the block. I’ve been setting all kinds of goals since I was just a kid. But these days, most of my goals are health and fitness related: Run a half marathon (did three last year), score first place in a race (so proud of that one!), cross experiences on my bucket list (like the Krispy Kreme Challenge and hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon), grow more of my own food each year (my garden continues to expand), etc. I also set a lot of career goals, and I’ve had a lot of fun and interesting successes in that area, too (hello self-on-a-shelf in Target stores!).  I figure I’m a goal-setting, goal-getting machine. When I set my mind to something, I work hard and I make it happen.  
In late December last year, I still hadn’t decided on any new goals for the 2012, so I went to a free goal-setting workshop hosted at my local Lululemon store for some ideas (I know, I know as if I needed more reason to bask in their delicious clothes). I didn’t expect to have any epiphanies during this hour I spent writing down ideas and talking with strangers about my goals. But sometimes, inspiration hits you in the face when you least expect it.
We started by sitting in a circle and closing our eyes. The workshop leader led us through a visualization technique starting with the question, “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
“Great,” I thought. I’ve been asked that vague question before (usually in a job or college interview). “This isn’t going to get me anywhere. I need some ideas right now!”
But as she continued, my know-it-all attitude changed. Eyes closed, we were led through a visualization exercise while she asked us to envision our lives 10 years in the future with prompts such as:
  • How old are you?
  • Where do you live?
  • With whom do you share a home?
  • When you open your eyes in the morning, what do you see, hear, smell and feel?
  • Who is there? How do you spend your time during the day?
  • Where do you go and how do you get there? Who or what do you see along the way?
  • What do you do for a living?
  • How do you move your body? What kind of exercise do you do?
  • What do you look like when you see yourself in the mirror?
  • What brings you the most joy on this day?
  • Who do you share your time with? Who do you visit, call or talk to?
  • How do you feel when your head hits the pillow at the end of this day?
  • What are you excited about doing tomorrow?
  • What is your idea life? Are you living it?
We sat quietly for about 10 minutes, and with each question, my vision became clearer. It filled with more details and color, and somehow—without even thinking about it—I had answers to all of her questions instantly as she asked them—even though I had never before thought about what my life will be like a decade from now in anything more than very general terms. The whole exercise was so entertaining and eye-opening to me. I loved this daydream! It could be anything I wanted it to be and it was my ideal life. It seemed so real and so natural and I just couldn’t wait for this life to happen. When the exercise was over, I felt this sudden change come over me. I wanted this life right now! How could I make it happen sooner? I don’t want to wait 10 years! We then used our vision as a starting point for setting our goals for the next year, but we didn't stop there. We also set goals we planned to achieve within five years and 10 years in order to help us live our ideal lives.

I would normally think that was a bunch of new age hippie stuff (no offense to the hippies because I’m pretty crunchy myself, but you get where I’m going). But when I sat down and really did it, it made me realize how many more goals I have in life besides being a faster runner or climbing the corporate ladder. In fact, it made a lot of that small stuff fall back to the place where it belongs: a part of your life, not your whole life.

What I did realize is that the vision of my life 10 years from now was far different than my life as it is today. I focus so much on the here-and-now, just getting through my to-do list each day that I never take much time to step back and look at the bigger—or in this case, future—picture.

Besides getting some good ideas for goals to strive for in 2012 (such as completely paying off my student loans so I have more financial freedom to reach other milestones), I feel more motivated than ever to make this year my best year yet. Two weeks into January is when many people start giving up on their resolutions, but I just remember my vision and it keeps me going strong. Being fit and healthy and maintaining a healthy weight all fits into that picture and allows me to do so many things on my life list.

The mind is a powerful thing, and so is the imagination or your ability to visualize. They say that your mind doesn't truly know the difference between things you imagine and what you experience in reality, which is why visualizing yourself as the successful person you want to be can be so helpful in getting you there. No matter what your goals may be: short-term, weight-loss, health and fitness, or life in general—there is power to envisioning yourself where you want to be. It only takes a few seconds or a few minutes of your time, but I promise the effect is much longer lasting. With a little daydreaming, you may just find yourself more motivated than ever to make that goal a reality instead of just a dream.

Do you ever visualize yourself reaching your goals? Do you think visualization can be a powerful motivator? 

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Great blog. Thank you. Report
Definitely gave me a new perspective! Thank you. Report
I just did this and it made me so incredibly excited. It was such an amazing experience because it felt so real. The more details you add, the more you live in that moment. Great blog! Report
This is a great way to help me visualize my goals. I will take time later today to do it. Report
I tried to do this and failed several times. Finally I lay down on the floor with my dog and rubbed her tummy and tried again. I got so sad. She is 6 now- so probably gone in 10. My 13 y/o dd will be 23, and graduated from college? My 10 y/o ds will be 20- perhaps he will be half way through college/ It was all so hard and I got so sad. But the time will pass and if I am lucky I will be around. So I went to work thinking about what would be great then. I made some progress. Report
When I did this exercise, images popped into my head right away as well. in 10 years I will be about 35, so I pictured myself with husband, kids & my dream career. All of these thinks seem so far away, but at the same time it does kick up your motivation to stay commited to working on goals. This article really inspired me and got me thinking. Report
Nicole, I think this may be the best blog I've read yet. Although I don't see him in my 10 year picture, I am going to sit down with my boyfriend and do this exercise. We both need the insight even if we pursue our dreams separately. Thanks. Report
Wow, I have to save this! I hate the "Where do you see yourself in 10 years" question for all the same reasons. I don't know what I want in 10 years! But just skimming those questions made some images pop into my mind. I will have to take a few minutes on a more relaxed day and chew on this. Report
Interesting exercise.... Report
This is a great blog im going to apply it to my daily movitation Report
Awesome Blog and VERY TIMELY! I've not completed my goals for 2012, nor my 5 yr & 10 yr goals, but I am working on my goals. I've started to DREAM again. I'm setting goals for Improving my Health, Wealth, & Personal Being. Not only am I setting my goals, I'm WRITING them down and also writing down how I intend to accomplish those goals. I will also be completing my Vision Board...for all areas of my life.
Again, great blog! Report
amazing blog. it's really inspired and motivated me. seriously. I wrote down all of the questions and my answers in a journal and hope to look at them a few years down the line! Report
I will be talking to people about eating healthy and living well. My daughter will be grown and working. I will be one hundred plus pounds less than I am now!! I got to get busy. I have to work on building a healthy future. Report
I love this blog! I'm going to have to try this technique. Report
I took a minute and thought about my life 10 years from now. I know I'll be 72 and will still be working since I have a mortgage to pay off. No retirement in sight. As for the rest, a lot will depend on health. Report
Good blog, but one bit made me laugh: "a bunch of new age hippie stuff (no offense to the hippies because I’m pretty crunchy myself" "CRUNCHY"? wow, has time shifted the focus from what those of us who were 'there' saw/felt/did to how that same experience is seen decades later!

The content of the blog, however, is great. Like a pp, I can't usually see more than 2 years ahead (unless I look all the way to retirement, which isn't exactly 'goal setting') but there are dreams (and nightmares) lurking under the surface of the days, and those need attention. Report
I actually read this blog TWICE ... last night and then after thinking about it overnight I read it again this morning! What a powerful message. Thank you so much for sharing this insight ... I'm not sure I like what I will see in 10 years if I don't start living more healthy now. Certainly puts things in perspective ... I want to be able to enjoy life in 10 years, not just living! Report
Thank you Nicole! Great blog - I am in need to review this visualization and keep my goals a priority! Report
When I do my dream life, it's a great tool. I just have to be positive and remember not to dwell on the "what happens in ten years if I don't make changes" vision! Report
Great blog. Visualization is a very powerful tool. But yikes - I read thru the questions, closed my eyes and answered the first question and realized I would be 73 in 10 years - how the heck did that happen??? I am going to follow up on this and see if there are any workshops of this type scheduled in my area. In the meantime i will continue to dream on :) Report
Very timely blog for me. Today is my Birthday. That seems an appropriate time to do this visualization and a fun way to spend some "me" time today. I daydream alot, but not usually with specifics in mind. This will be a great way to help me focus on the paths to my goals. Thank Nicole.
Martha Report
I've found EFT TAPPING to be most helpful in getting myself to do what I want and avoid negative thinking. There are good videos on YouTube on how to learn to do this. Report
saving to favorites, will do the visualization later Report
I'm going to try this. I love that it is very specific questions because I have a hard time visualizing 10 years from now in general terms; it's is all just a blur. Report
thanks coach! good info and ideas. you have been such an inspiration to the spark community, more than you will ever know! Report
I really love the idea of "fleshing out" what I want in 10 years. And yes--making that happen sooner is great!! Thank you for this set of ideas..... Report
Wow, this was not what I was expecting when I opened the link. What a great blog! I think this is a great technique and much more helpful that just trying to think of where you want to be in 10 years (yeah, I don't like that questions either)! Thank you for sharing this. I'm going to share this with my BF, too. I think it's a great exercise for each of us, but also something to share with each other! Report
This is awesome Nicole. I have started using visualization on an almost daily basis, for the past six months, and have found a huge difference in my days activities. Just a couple of minutes each morning before I get out of bed - and I can really step up my game. Love it! Report
Love it! I am going to do it! Report
Visualization helped me naturally deliver my third child after having had C-sections with my two previous births. I am using it again now to help me live the life I want to live and it is helping a lot! Report
I've tried to answer questions like that before, and it left me feeling more overwhelmed and confused then before I did it.
But I am willing to give this a try and see what happens. Report
Sounds inspiring. I'm gonna try this. Report
I really hate those kinds of questions at job interviews, I can't think that far in advance. A year or 2 is the time limit for long term goals. Report
Amazing questions to ask ourselves. I can't wait to do this and see where my future takes me. Report
This might be just the ticket. I am one of 6 and was on the phone w/my sister recently and we were talking about setting new goals for 2012. Something like we all set 3 goals, one fitness, one professional, one personal and share them so we can motivate each other. I am going to share this with them as well. Report
Yes I have used visualization and it is a powerful tool. But I never thought about using it combined with setting my life in motion toward a different direction. Interesting; thanks for sharing. Report
Active Dreaming is such an important part of my life.
The world needs the moon and the sun.
We underestimate the power of our dreams to manifest.
Great blog Nichole, thank you!