If you knew of a way that would help you to achieve your goals more quickly, more of the time, would you be prepared to give it a go?
Have you ever thought that setting goals for yourself if is a dull, uninspiring process that does nothing to boost your motivation?
If you have answered “yes” to either of these questions, there is a process from the NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) coaching toolbox that will help.
The secret lies in re-kindling a skill that we all had in abundance as children, but which many of us have forgotten to use… the ability to use our imagination.
Imagineering is a term most often associated with Disney. In fact, the term was forst coined by ALCOA (a US aliminium manufacturing company) in the 1940s. They said in their advertising:
Imagineering is letting your imagination soar, and then engineering it down to earth.
Even Einstein appreciated the importance of imagination. He said on more than one occasion “imagination is more important than knowledge”.
So why is imagination so important? It is because our brains are unable to tell the difference between what is real and what is imagined. Functional MRI scans show that the same areas in our brain activate whether we actually do an activity such as singing, or simply imagine singing.
If you need more convincing, try this simple experiment…
Think of a fresh lemon. Imagine one in front of you now, and feel what it feels like as you pick it up. Take a knife and cut a slice off the lemon, and hear the slight sound as the juice squirts out. Smell the lemon as you lift the slice to your mouth and take a bite of the slice. Taste the sharp taste of the fruit.
If you actually imagined doing that, your mouth is now salivating. Why? Because your brain followed your instructions and thought about, saw, heard, felt, smelled and tasted the lemon. You recreated the entire experience of the lemon, so that your body responded to the lemon you created.
So if it works with lemons, what else can it be used for?
Many experiments have tested the effect of imagining or visualising success. In one well known test a team of gymnasts were divided into 2 groups in order to learn a new move. Group 1 visualised themselves repeatedly being able to do the move. Group 2 received no instruction. When asked to perform the move, Group 1 achieved a 50-60% success rate, but for Group 2 it was only 10%. In a similar experiment basketball players who visualised scoring free throws showed similar improvements in performance as those who practised conventionally.
So how can you apply this to goals?
The secret of imagineering the goal into reality is to use the same mechanism as the brain actually uses to store memories. Memories are coded using the senses: seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling and tasting. In NLP these are referred to as the modalities.
The key to imagining success lies in using all the modalities (or at very least, seeing, hearing and feeling). Take another look at the lemon experiment and you will see how I encouraged you to do this.
So now, think of your goal and get a picture of yourself achieving the goal, make it big, bright, colourful, you could even turn it into a movie. As you watch the movie of your success you can adjust the images to make the picture as compelling as possible. Now add the soundtrack. What can you hear? What are you telling yourself? Are there other people around? What are they saying to you? Finally, get in touch with the feelings that the “you” in the movie must be experiencing. Is he/she feeling satisfied, elated, triumphant, another feeling? How does that feel? Where in the body is that feeling experienced? Make that feeling even better.
When you have created your movie, sit back and enjoy watching it as many times as you like and make any adjustments that seem appropriate.
You should by now have a compelling movie. By using all the modalities you have accessed the same neurological circuits that you use to experience the real thing. As a result the brain treats what you are thinking about as “real” and therefore ACHIEVABLE.
Remember though, that whilst this is great for practising – it is no substitute for ACTION. At some point you will need to take action to achieve the goal but at least this way you will have planned ahead and seen yourself taking successful actions.
Enjoy imagineering more goals into reality!