We can all relate to long periods of daydreaming during our schooldays, sitting gazing out of the window wishing we were somewhere else, with someone else, doing something else.
But was that all a waste of time . . . . it seems not.
We all daydream, more often than we might expect and contrary to what you might have heard, daydreaming is far from useless. Daydreaming breaks are not just fun, they are necessary for us. Our brains cannot maintain focus and productivity non-stop, it needs regular breaks of relaxation to maintain good brain health. It’s also been proven to help to reduce stress and anxiety, but how can we use it consciously to our advantage?
When you daydream, your mind visualises random things almost without any effort, it is random by its very nature. Visualisation is not random, it’s usually done with a definite purpose or goal in mind before you begin. Images will still come and go, but those images are connected directly to each other and to an underlying goal or purpose.
Whether you think about doing something or actually do it, the same neural pathways are activated, these trigger changes in the brain which improve neural circuits. These changes in brain state create motor learning effects, so visualising about playing tennis for instance, can actually help you become a more skilful player.
One study showed that golf caddies punch well above their weight when comparing hours of practice to their handicap score, because their minds and bodies have simulated practice for hundreds of hours whilst watching others play.
I have spoken before of the benefits of cold water therapy, every day I will take a two minute cold shower as part of my morning routine, evidence has suggested that they can improve circulation, improve energy levels, reduce inflammation in your body, deepen sleep and ease symptoms of depression.
Even though there are many benefits I often get the same reply when I suggest trying this as a new routine to clients “No way, you must be mad”
But interestingly, prior to turning the temperature lever from hot to cold each morning, I imagine the water going from hot to cold on my back and even before I turn the lever, my body senses a drop in water temperature on it, it prepares for the change of sensation before it actually happens, it really is a scary feeling as the body makes adjustments, making it much easier to accept.
It really is the power of the mind and it’s incredible.
Visualisation is a very powerful tool to help with motivation and taking initial action, something that we all struggle with at times.
So, visualisation is a really good way of helping with action, however not as we would imagine it to be, lots of people think when we visualise in relation to goal setting or sticking to a plan, that we should visualise the point of success of goal achievement, and studies have found that not quite to be the case, there is a place for visualising success and that is right at the outset when we set the goal that is a really good motivator to take initial action but in terms of continual action looking at the endpoint isn’t the best method. If we want to help ourselves consistently act towards our goals over time then it turns out the best thing to visualise is failure, failure is a much better motivator for consistent behavioural change. To visualise failure would be to think about how we would feel if we gave up, so when things get tough the best motivator is to feel what it would be like if we moved ourselves forward a particular length of time, say 1, 2, or 3 years, or however long the goal is and considered how we would feel if we were in the same situation as we are now, what would our emotions be if we hadn’t moved forward, hadn’t progressed, hadn’t improved ourselves over that period of time.
It turns out that this method of visualising failure is a powerful motivator, more powerful than looking at success.
I recently saw a talk by Sir Ranulph Fiennes, often described as the world’s greatest living explorer, if you don’t know him this is the guy who famously cut off his own fingers with a saw in the shed down at the bottom the garden because they were suffering so badly from frostbite, and there was a question and answer section at the end of the evening and it stood out and still does in my mind because someone asked him what motivates him, and he said “two people motivate me, my father and my grandfather and I’ve not met either of them but when times have got really challenging and really tough and I’ve been at my lowest I have thought of them looking down on me and how disappointed they would be in me if I gave up, so I’ve never given up and I hope they look down on me and are proud” . . . . . I’m sure they are Sir Ran ! . . . . . . and that is the power of visualisation.
So allow yourself to daydream, but spend some time consciously visualising your goals, using the endpoint of success at the onset of a new goal to help with motivation and taking initial action and then using a failure, and the emotions linked to failure as a motivator throughout the length of your goal to help you stick to the plan.
Using this simple method, you give yourself a much greater chance of success, so get ready to celebrate victories way past your dreams.
For advice on how to set a morning routine that works for you, contact me for information
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