personal visioningDecades of research has proven the power of visualization in athletics, health, and personal, team, or organizational effectiveness. We become what we think about.

The following is an exercise I’ve used personally, with my wife, Heather, and many groups. Recently I led a group of high potential leaders through this guided imagery process as part of their focus on work/life balance.

Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. See that big movie screen in the middle of your forehead. Picture yourself in a very familiar home. See yourself walking from room to room, counting the windows in the house. Feel the carpet or floor on your bare feet.

Now imagine that there is a party or family gathering in the house with many of your favorite people. Hear the happy sounds of laughter, voices, maybe music, and the noisy clamor. Feel the energy of the party or festive atmosphere pervading the house. Take a deep breath and smell the delicious aromas of your favorite foods wafting through the house. Imagine you’re taking a bite of that mouth-watering food. Visualize its texture and temperature as you chew. Savor the taste as you swallow.

Now see yourself heading out the front door of the house. Out in the yard or street is a big old-fashioned hot air balloon tethered to the ground. Its gas burners are blasting hot air as the balloon pulls at the ropes to escape into the air. You step into the antique gondola hanging from the balloon. On the floor, you notice a brass counter with the numbers of the current year on it. You reach down and click the counter ahead to the year you’d like to take your time-traveling balloon to. The balloon lifts off rapidly, leaving the house and its setting disappearing rapidly below. The balloon begins to move forward very rapidly. It picks up speed rapidly as colors rush by and the wind whistles through the gondola. Suddenly, the balloon stops. It’s a beautiful summer day. The sun is warmly caressing your shoulders and neck as you look down upon your future workplace. It’s exactly what you’d love it to be.

What do you see? What conversations are you hearing? Who do you see? What’s your role and responsibilities? What leadership are you providing?

Your balloon drifts over your home. It’s ideal. What do you see? Who’s there? What are the positive conversations about?

Now your balloon drifts off and over your favorite recreational setting. Where is that? You look down and see yourself sitting with a loved one or a very close friend. You overhear a reflective and very fulfilling conversation. You’re talking about how the past few years have really come together.

What would the conversation include? You describe how your career, home life, family, social life, community involvement, financial picture, and spiritual life have blossomed. What does this ideal picture look like?

The clearer you picture your ideal future, the stronger you’ll set your magnetic field to pull you there.