1 hour per day doing this mental exercise will exponentially increase your success

“Remember, dreams without goals are just dreams and they ultimately fuel disappointment. Have dreams, but have goals, life goals, yearly goals, monthly goals, daily goals.” — Denzel Washington

There’s a very big difference between wanting something in a virtuous way, and pining for something that you’re not committed to achieving. The winning way of getting what you want is to practice visualizing your goal and walking through this step-by-step. Everything great begins with your imagination, which I encourage you to stretch and use as creatively as you can to think of exactly what your biggest dreams look like in practice.

Visualization is integral to starting the mental building process of putting ourselves in the position we desire to be — to live. You may say that you want to be a bestselling author, start your own marketing business or even learn how to play guitar. That’s great. I believe you should absolutely speak those things over your life. But what are you actually doing about in the meantime?

For most people, the next step is simply to take action. Fine. Seems like a good idea, right? The action most people miss out on — the necessary predecessor — is imagination and visualization. Set the bar high. Imagine yourself playing the guitar, mastering the basic chords and then performing at local clubs. Imagine yourself performing at Madison Square Garden.

If you’re trying to start your own business, not only do you need a plan, you need a clear vision as to what each step in the process looks like. Know this — nothing will ever go exactly according to plan, but your odds of reaching your goals and success dramatically improve once you put something to plan. The “planning” phase is not just the verbal and written accord. It’s the visualization, the mental walk-through of what you truly want.

Building Your Vision

Take this from Brian Scudamore who detailed his experience for Inc.com of how he built a $100 Million multinational company:

“People typically think about goal setting in one of two ways:

1. Fantasize about the future irrespective of their present reality.

2. Think about their current situation and project forward while giving consideration to their present limitations.

According to more than 200 scientific studies on visualization, the best way to achieve real results is to utilize both types of visualization. This tactic is known as mental contrasting. By following up your pie-in-the-sky Painted Picture with nuts-and-bolts strategic planning, you’ll have both the inspiration and the gameplan necessary to reach your desired destination.

As you use mental contrasting, it’s critical to do the visualization and strategic planning in different places as these two processes require completely different mindsets.”

Visualization feeds goal planning, which leads to action and a higher-level of commitment toward achieving your goals and dreams. Brian Scudamore was able to blend a dream — what seemed like a total pipe dream, might I add! — with clear vision that he articulated to his employees. He then crafted a game plan grounded in truths, business strategy and metrics. He found himself a winner.

We’ve seen an example from business — it’s even easier to see how powerful this is with sports. Athletes are infinitely more successful when they visualize themselves pouring in the game-winning bucket, scoring the goal — mentally envisioning the angles and speed — or how to properly execute a figure-skating jump.

As Christopher Bergland explains, visualization is critical for athletes in reducing the time for mastery of a highly complex skill. Seeing and visualizing BEFORE doing literally shaves off minutes, hours and months of time to help athletes compete at the level they desire. The great athletes, as a result, practice visualization because it helps them to be more efficient in every way.

“Now, researchers from the UK have identified that optimizing someone’s gaze is key to fine-tuning the mastery of complex motor skills during observation. Scientists at Brunel University London created a novel technique to identify how watching a video, which highlights crucial details of a golf swing — such as how golfers line up the ball, position their feet, and twist their hips — significantly reduces the time it takes to master this complex motor skill.” Source

Whether it’s sport, art, mastering business skills or parenting skills, observing others and visualizing ourselves doing it is a skill to master. We’re all crunched by a variety of factors — namely time and money. In the digital age in which we live, video, e-books and a plethora of resources are at our disposal to help us get to where we want to be faster and more effectively.

Speed is not the only name of the game. Proficiency is faster developed when we visualize what it is that we want. Take this into your professional approach with your job and all of your entrepreneurial pursuits. Nurture this thought in how you love and care for your family. Visualization — creative imagination — is the launching pad for living the life you desire. It starts with a dream.

Join my newsletter and check out my Amazon Bestselling book, The Value of You. This will give you inspiration to start planning for success on your journey. If you want to work with me, connect here and let me know how I can help you! 

This article first appeared on Medium.