Motivation…drive…energy… for some people these words grate like nails down a blackboard. You know you want to get healthy, get fit, look your best AND feel your best – physically and mentally, but the road feels like it only goes up hill.
I’ve talked about focus and setting short term goals previously – but a friend (who has more drive than anyone I’ve ever met!) and I were talking about visualisation this week… a technique we both use to approach the here and now and achieve those goals.
Visualisation is a technique I have used for both my physical and mental health – in fact, its been a complete life saver in the most difficult times.
It probably helps I have worked in the fashion industry my whole life – as visualisation and mood boards are one of our most used tools in generating new ideas and developing concepts. I’m a very visual person – visual and tactile. I am at my happiest looking at the ocean and having a cuddle!!! ❤️
I have always used visualisation in my training to achieve physical goals and this has helped me use the technique for my mental wellbeing too.
Sometimes the visualisation will be a longer term goal… for e.g.: I’m doing a 10 min sprint on the treadmill at 6am in the morning . Now … let’s face it … no-one reaaaaaaalllly jumps out of bed at 5.15am and goes woo-hoo…. its a sprint morning!! Much more likely the stairs leading up to the gym resemble the vertical climb up K2 and the look on my face, at those I pass by at reception, resembles Cruella de Vil in a foul mood! But pat yourself on the back for getting there (always 90% of the battle anyway) and get on that treadmill. For the last few weeks I’ve used my upcoming holiday to Fiji as my visual goal when I’m doing a sprint session. I take my visual gaze away from the clock and think of the beach… I think of myself feeling my best lying there and realise thats why I’m working so hard. Every so often, a cocktail or two creeps into the shot, with an Adonis or three jogging along the beach- but hey…whatever floats your boat I say!!!
Other times when I’m training and really pushing it… I’ll focus on something more immediate. Maybe I’m meeting a friend for brunch later and I’m really looking forward to it (food ALWAYS makes me smile!) – I’ll imagine myself there and just focus on the prize! Hell – I train hard so I can enjoy my food, so that’s always been a good visualisation technique for me when I’m exercising.
Focusing on the finish line is always a good idea. Competitive athletes always talk about this. If you are about to start a session, or even struggling to get yourself to the session – focus on the end and how good you will feel. Know that feeling of achievement and let it wash over you – then use it as your drive.
My ability to focus on that finish line, on that feeling of achievement, was never more heightened than when I got wheeled down to that operating theatre. I wanted to scream, cry, get off the bed and run for the hills (if only the gown had been a little less revealing and A LOT more attractive!!). I had actually practiced visualising returning home from hospital and opening my front door again…. I’d visualised cuddling up on the couch with my daughter and watching chick flicks together. I’d be lying if I said I never visualised the tough stuff… what was I going to look like? Would my face change? What would my scar and hair look like? (bloody awful is the true answer to that one!!). But I really did try and visualise my happiness … I even visualised my smile when I woke up – and it REALLY worked.
Then I used visualisation to get me through the next few weeks of smaller goals. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts – I wasn’t gonna let anyone tell me I couldn’t exercise for 6 months – not in a million years! So each day that I wanted to achieve something more- I visualised myself doing it first and then visualised the end and how I’d feel. There were days when I looked in the mirror and really didn’t like what I saw (we’re only human) , but I visualised what it would be like when my hair grew back and just saw the ‘present’ as a moment in time, a moment in time that would pass. That really helped.
I think its important to know your mental strength on any given day to know whether you are best served by visualising something short term – or something longer term. If you’re not feeling so ‘strong’, shorter term is better. If you are in a good place, then maybe the longer term visual really pushes you and drives you to achieve a personal best. No two days are the same – we’re not wired that way and have to acknowledge that in ourselves.
Most of us are visual and respond best when we can ‘set our sights’ on something and just go for it.
If you want to make a change in your life around your health and wellbeing, be positive, set your short term goals and visualise yourself achieving them.
If life is throwing tough shit at you (cos hell it so does), visualise yourself coming out the other side. I’ve been there … set my eyes on the prize… and got it! 🎁