The Concept of visualization & how it helps you to find out what you really want in life
Visualization is a powerful tool that can take your goal setting to the next level. It is a common technique in coaching and I found it to be very useful with my Expat clients. In this article, I introduce you to the basic concept and I will show you my favorite exercise for new Expats who are on their journey figuring out what they want to achieve during their time abroad.
The concept of Visualization
We love to visualize a certain outcome so that it feels more real to us. Without a picture of the end result, setting goals is more like wishful thinking. There are some stereotypes about visualization that are actually not true: Visualization is not about daydreaming or chasing a fantasy that will never be true. It also does not need to be spiritual – unless you want it to be. It’s more the opposite: It’s trying to imagine one’s personal goal in great detail and with a lot of realism to feel more attached to it. Especially in business coaching, visualization has a bad reputation as managers only think about the potential spiritual aspect of visualization. However, it is simply a useful tool to define a goal with more context which makes it easier to reach in the end.
Research has shown that there is a strong scientific foundation for how and why visualization works. To simplify the concept behind: When we visualize something and then later act on it, the same area of the brain is activated. Therefore visualizing what reaching our goal would feel and look like supports us in actually getting there.
The biggest challenge is to not visualize something that has already happened and is stored in our memory but something we want to happen in the future. For this to work, we have to train a little bit and in the following to reach that level.
How visualization works
Basically, visualization is the skill to imagine things. For some, this is very easy and for others, it can feel like a blank sheet of paper that is hard to fill.
Through my coaching training, I came across a beginner exercise to train one’s visualization skills. It might seem very basic and simple but it’s a great way to illustrate the dimensions of visualization.
Think about an apple. Now, use all your imagination to imagine that apple in as much detail as possible. What color does the apple have? Are there any spots with a different color? What is the structure? Are there any holes? What is the exact form and size if the apple? Try to imagine the smell of it and the sound you hear when you take a bite. For some of you, these images in your head will come up while you read these lines, for others you will need to take some minutes for yourself to get a visual of this apple in great detail. This small example shows you that visualization is much more than just thinking about an apple and maybe its color, but it goes much deeper and will take all the attention from you for a certain amount of time in order to gain the full picture.
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A visualization exercise for Expats
Most of the clients I am talking to have moved abroad with their whole family and they find themselves in some form of professional transition. They are no longer employed in their former profession but are looking for ways to re-enter the job market or try to find out how they want to spend their time abroad. It is my belief that this is a very crucial phase of every Expat and that we should take our time to assess the options we have before jumping to conclusions. Visualization can be of great start.
In short, one visualization exercise I like to do with my clients:
Imagine we are fast forwarding time to a couple of years in the future. You are back in your home country. After taking some time to settle in and creating a new home you are now sitting in the office of your new potential employer and your potential boss is sitting in front of you. Can you see the room? Try to imagine the chair you are sitting in and the room around you. Now turn your attention to the person interviewing you. The person is reading through your CV and after a couple of seconds he/she is looking you directly into the eyes and ask: So what have you done the last couple of years? At this moment your lips go up and a big smile shows in your face. You can feel that your body is full of excitement and you are looking forward to answering his/her question. You know that you will convince your interview partner with this answer. You know that you will add great value to the company and that your experience you have gained over the last couple of years has been a great addition to your portfolio. Try to feel this situation with all your senses. Feel the excitement in your body. Now imagine what you will reply to your interview partner. What have you done the last couple of years that made you that happy?
This is kind of reversed visualization exercises and don’t worry if you struggling with going through it right away. Normally this is part of a journey together with a coach and we have jumped over a few steps. Also I came straight to the point throwing this big question on “What did you do” on you – a question which will take some time and thought processes to get to its essence. However, I hope that this exercise shows you how visualization can work. The goal is to make a future scenario more tangible and develop a helicopter view to plan your personal path of success.
If you are interested in discussing this or other tools in order to help you finding your professional identity abroad you can always send me a direct message. I am offering a free consultation / discovery session to all new clients in order to introduce the concept of coaching and my approach to you. If you are feeling lonely in the process of transitioning abroad I want to ensure you that you are not the first not the last person dealing with it and finding someone you can talk openly about your struggles is a great relief. The Expat community is a very supporting community and full of great advice. Below you will also find other blog posts that might help you with your journey.
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