A while back we were talking about how to know what you really want in life. I said that I couldn’t give you good advice on how to figure it out. And I suggested you consult with other people who were have more expertise than me on the subject.
I’ve changed my mind. Sort of.
While I still don’t claim to be an expert, nor to know the best path to figuring all this out, I do want to describe one approach that has greatly improved my life.
It is called visualizing your ideal day.
Before you shake your head and click away from this post, understand that I am not a believer in mystical forces or psychic powers or anything like that. Visualization is a very practical, real world technique you can use to achieve real results. Granted, there is a lot of hocus pocus wrapped around the idea, but at the core it is pretty simple.
See if this makes sense to you…
We are barraged with huge amounts of stimuli every day. Our senses bring in information constantly, far more information than we can consciously handle. While you are reading this, your brain is receiving information on the position of every one of your joints. It is receiving touch and temperature information from every millimeter of your skin. The background noise all around you. The amount of pressure on your right butt cheek as you sit in your chair. And much, much more. But most of the time, most of this information is of no importance and you simply don’t notice it.
Our subconscious mind has the job of processing all these inputs and filtering out the stuff that doesn’t matter. We are only consciously aware of the information that the subconscious passes along. That’s why you can concentrate on this post instead of the sensations in the toes on your left foot, or the fact that your stomach is hard at work digesting your lunch.
This subconscious filtering is a basic survival strategy. If we had to think about, or even be consciously aware of, everything that was going on in our bodies and our environment every moment, we would be overwhelmed.
Imagine if you were out in the wilds and you had to deal with all this stuff consciously. By the time you got done sorting through the sensation of the blades of grass on your legs, and the wind in your hair, and all the other thousands of stimuli bombarding you, the tiger that was watching you from the bushes over there would probably be having you for lunch.
So something needs to quickly filter out all the irrelevant stuff, so your conscious mind can deal with the little bit that gets past the filters. It is the job of your subconscious to sort and sift and filter that flood of information to find important stuff to pass on to your conscious mind.
The stuff that gets passed on to your conscious mind is normally stuff like pain. If you drop a kettlebell on your left foot, you will suddenly become quite aware of the sensations in those left toes. When the background noise that you have been ignoring turns into a fire alarm, you will suddenly become quite aware of it. In effect, your subconscious mind looks for stuff that you need to pay attention to. Then it slaps your conscious mind and tells it there is something important to attend to.
Remember when I said that your subconscious mind only passes along important stuff (stuff that needs to be consciously attended to) to your conscious mind? Your subconscious has a built-in bunch of things that it automatically classifies as important. Things like pain and hunger. When you break your leg or are starving, your subconscious lets your conscious mind know it.
But your subconscious also responds to input about what is important from your conscious mind. When you focus your attention on something, your subconscious treats that thing as important. The more you focus on it, the more important your subconscious considers it. After all, you are spending all that attention on whatever it is.
In response to this conscious focus on X, your subconscious mind starts passing along anything related to X that it finds.
For a trivial example, you’ve probably had an experience like this:
You decide that you are going to buy a convertible sports car. But instead of buying a red one like all those guys who are going through a mid-life crisis, you’re going to buy a black one to show you are different. So you do.
But that very afternoon you head out to some No Name bar to celebrate your purchase, and what do you see? A black convertible!
The next day on your way to work you see a couple of them too. There’s even one in the parking lot at the office now. What’s going on? Did every Tom, Dick, and Harry out there decide to copy you and buy a black convertible?
This is a perfect example of how you can reprogram your subconscious by focusing your attention. Focusing so much of your attention on your black convertible sends your subconscious the message that black convertibles are important. So your subconscious passes along anything related to black convertibles to your conscious mind.
There are NOT suddenly more black convertibles on the road. You are simply noticing them more. Your subconscious got the message that they are important to you so when it detects one, your subconscious signals your conscious mind so that you notice it.
SLAP! Hey! Look at that! Another black convertible!
That’s all great, but what does it have to do with visualizing your ideal day?
Visualizing your ideal day involves thinking about what your ideal day would be like. In detail. The more detail the better. By focusing your attention on your ideal day like this, you are telling your subconscious mind that this is important stuff. As a result, your subconscious mind feeds your conscious mind any information related to your ideal day it happens to come across. This increases your chances of making that ideal day come to pass.
Say your ideal day starts with waking up in your beachfront condo in some tropical paradise. Because you visualized your ideal day so intensely, your subconscious knows that “beachfront condo” and “tropical paradise” are things that are important to you. So if some guys on the train happen to be talking about Curacao, or you drive past a billboard advertising timeshare condos, your subconscious is much more likely to pass that information along to your conscious mind.
The more you notice information related to your ideal day, the better. You may notice something that will help you achieve it. If nothing else, noticing things related to your ideal day makes you think about it. And that tells your subconscious it is important to you. This feedback loop helps keep you on track.
In short, visualizing your ideal day focuses your attention on it. And focusing your attention makes you more likely to achieve the results you want.
Now that you’ve seen how visualizing your ideal day helps you get what you want in life, let’s talk about how to go about it. Here are the steps:
The idea is to think about your ideal day frequently enough and deeply enough to embed the details in your subconscious. Once you do, your subconscious will go to work scanning and sifting and filtering the stimuli you receive, looking for anything that will help you achieve your ideal day. You’ll start noticing things that you might have overlooked before. Ideas will “pop into your head out of nowhere” that can help you get what you want.
You’ll be putting your subconscious mind to work to help you achieve the ideal day you visualized.
This is what I did. I spent quite a lot of time figuring out what my ideal day would look like. This vision eventually became so embedded in my mind that I don’t have to review what I wrote any more. Doing this has helped me to notice things that have helped me get closer to what I want. It is a powerful technique and definitely worth trying.
Have you tried visualizing your ideal day? If so, let me know how it worked out for you in the comment section below.