“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” ― Albert Einstein
Self-knowledge is important. But self-imagination is far more compelling and powerful. Actually, being highly imaginative is how you become self-aware.
You never actually have an objective perspective of yourself. Instead of trying to be objective, you should seek to be imaginative.
Even your memory is imagined and not objective. Yet, as children, we are trained to not be imaginative, which stops us from developing powerful memories and powerful futures. As Tony Buzan said, “Children are trained to think linearly instead of imaginatively; they are taught to read slowly and carefully and are discouraged from daydreaming. They are trained to reduce the use and capacity of their brain.”
The more imaginative you can be about yourself, about what you learn, and about your future, the more creative control you have over these things.
Your brain functions best when you use your imagination; when you combine both your left and right brains; when you engage all of your senses; when you exaggerate things and are playful.
In his TED talk, Stuart Brown said, “Play leads to brain plasticity, adaptability, and creativity … Nothing fires up the brain like play.” Similarly, Greg McKeown said in Essentialism, “Very successful people see play as essential for creativity.”
The more creative you are, the more successful you can become. The more imaginative you are, the better your brain will operate.
When you allow yourself to be more imaginative about yourself, you will be blown away by how much faster you can learn. You’ll be blown away by how flexible and your identity and capabilities are. You’ll realize that your brain and memory have a seemingly infinite capacity and that you’re living far beneath your potential.
For starters, here’s a quick 10-minute exercise that will begin your process of re-creating your life, surroundings, skills, and world.
Step 1: Mind-map your yourself (5 minutes)
“Through using our memory to its fullest we can unlock the vast reservoir of human potential that isn’t currently being used.” — Tony Buzan
Mind mapping is a skill used by many of the world’s best learners. Rather than taking notes or jotting down your ideas in a linear fashion using only words, mind mapping taps into all of the senses of both the right and left brains.
Basically, with a mind map, you take out a blank piece of paper and draw a circle in the middle and put your name. Then draw lines going out from the circle and write down whatever categories of your life you want to have, such as health, money, relationships, achievements, spirituality.
When creating a mind map of yourself, write down all of your dreams, ambitions, and characteristics.
Hold nothing back.
Also, rather than simply using words, it’s far more powerful to use images. Your brain stores colorful and even moving images much easier than static words.
The more imaginative you can be, the more powerful and memorable your mind map will be.
Your identity is imagined. Your future identity is also imagined. So you might as well take creative control over the imagination-process. You might as well become brilliant at the imagination process. This will make your memory far more flexible and powerful, empowering you to more fully embrace new experiences and transform those experiences into growth.
Here’s how you can fold time. When you create a mind map of your future self in a highly imaginative and visual way, you create memories of your future self.
The more emotional the memory the better, as emotion creates the context and feeling of the memory.
Zig Ziglar is famous for saying, “You have to “Be” the right kind of person first, then you must “Do” the right things before you can expect to “Have” the things in life that really matter. Dad keeps it pretty simple — Be, Do, Have.”
When you mind-map your future self in a highly imaginative way, you fold time and bring your future self into the present. This will allow you into a new role and identity that can immediately act congruently with your goals.
For example, you may put on your mind map that you will be a millionaire. However, the regular behaviors involved in being a millionaire likely conflict with your current identity and behaviors. Therefore, you need to pull your future self into the present and begin being and acting as that person now.
Again, the more imaginative, visual, and emotionally-stimulating this written-process, the more engrained it will be into your memory. And your memory in large part shapes your identity and future.
Step 2: Write your own obituary (5 Minutes)
“While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die.” — Leonardo da Vinci
Once you’ve mind mapped your future self, the next step is to write your own obituary. You can take 5 minutes or 50 minutes on this.
Either way, it is powerful to write out your obituary from the vantage point of you already being dead.
What would you like that obituary to say?
Again, be very imaginative.
The shocking part about life is how much it can bend itself to fit your mind, feelings, and imaginings.
A very smart question when considering your own obituary comes from billionaire, Peter Theil, who asked, “How can you achieve your 10 year plan in the next 6 months?”
Why does this question matter? Because it cuts through the noise like a hot knife cuts through butter.
You absolutely can achieve most of your wildest dreams in the next 6–12 months. You simply need to start living to die instead of dying to live. This is what Robin Sharma calls having a “death-bed” mentality. It means you never take another day for granted again. It means you bring extreme and powerful enthusiasm to everything you do.
Enthusiasm is contagious. It gives energy and life. When you wake up and bring enthusiasm to what you’re doing, your mind begins sparking with creative ideas and insights. Your doubts and fears begin to wash away. Productivity becomes automatic.
What will your obituary say?
Write it down and then put it on your wall right next to your visually stimulating mind map. This is how you create a transformational trigger that immediately causes a deep sense of remembering. In your day-to-day life, it’s easy to fall back into cycles. It’s easy to forget what you really want and what you stand for.
However, if you have a transformational trigger which immediately reminds you of the future you, then it can zap you into that role and identity in the here and now. Thus, not only will your emotionally-charged trigger remind you, but it will also transform and reshape you.
A lifetime state of play
According to Strategic Coach founder, Dan Sullivan, life can and should be organized such that you live in a continual state of play.
How do you do this?
- You never stop learning. Your brain needs all of the information it can get — however, garbage in, garbage out. Your life is a product of your standards and your brain is the product of the quality of information you put in.
- You deepen your human relationships. Nothing is more important for the human brain than love. You could get all of the nutrition, oxygen, and information you need — but without love, your brain will hardly be able to process anything. However, when you have love, all inputs are amplified and expanded.
- You always make your future bigger than your past.
- You remove everything from your life that is keeping you stuck.
- You allow yourself to imagine something more compelling and exciting.
- You focus on “who” instead of “how.”
- You allow yourself to want what you really want, and never operate from a state of “should” or “have to” again.
When you give yourself permission to seek what you truly want, you immediately have far more energy, excitement, and enthusiasm about what you’re doing.
If something doesn’t excite you, then you’re not being imaginative enough about the game and how it’s being set up. Your future should be extremely juicy and compelling. It should even potentially scare you a little bit because it’s so amazing.
Charles Haanel, considered to be the father of modern self-improvement said,“Remember that no matter what the difficulty is, no matter where it is, no matter who is affected, you have no patient but yourself; you have nothing to do but convince yourself of the truth which you desire to see manifest.”
Where will you be in 6 months from now?
How close can you get to achieving your 10-year plan in the next 6 months?
How imaginative will you be?
Are you willing to be bold?
Are you willing to be direct?
Are you willing to do what will actually work, rather than being emotionally-attached to the outcome and to your ego?
Are you willing to create a life that allows you a continual state of play and awe?
How much bigger is your future going to be than your past?
What will your obituary say?
Will you fold-time and begin living your future today?
Ready to upgrade?
I’ve created a cheat sheet for putting yourself into a PEAK-STATE, immediately. You follow this daily, your life will change very quickly.
This column first appeared on Medium.