For centuries, athletes have used goal setting to help fuel motivation and higher performance, but goal setting does not apply solely to them. With the current level of technological distraction, it is difficult for your brain to know what to focus on. Because our brains prioritise goal-relevant information 1, goal setting helps you focus and allocate your time and resources, leading to increased performance. 2
Visual Goal Setting – a powerful tool
Mental imagery can have a very powerful effect on behaviour. In a 2014 study at the Center for Integrative and Cognitive Neuroscience, researchers found that participants who visualized a task before completing it performed better than those who had actually done a practice run 3. There is also evidence that imagining an image or scene activates the same areas in the brain as when actually viewing it. 4 This means that visualising your goals can be a powerful way to work on changing your behaviours and taking concrete steps forward in your life.
Goal setting can significantly improve your level of achievement 5, but goal setting often fails as a result of a lack of action. How many times have you set goals, day dreamed about them, and then forgotten about the tasks in front of you? It’s an extremely common problem and one that has lead people to lose faith in goal setting. Visual goal setting combats this problem by creating goal reminders. After a visual goal setting session, participants place the visualisations of their goals somewhere they will see it every day. Not only that, but by writing action steps on their drawing, they are consistently motivating themselves to take the necessary actions to achieve their goals. This kind of planning promotes goal striving 6, and will increase the chances of achieving your goals.
Don’t take my word for it, why not test your own response to visual goal setting?
Here’s what others have said after using visual goal setting:
I’m a career coach with a client who has spent these last months in analysis paralysis and avoiding actually applying for a job. Today, — our second meeting — I wanted to get her out of her head and out of her fear. I introduced her to the mapping process — and she left inspired and smiling. It was a great tool to help her visualize a successful future and to see how taking a bold step (applying for a job) is the key to her success. – Marsha
I love to visualize my thoughts! It is somewhat unusual for a German Engineer but it is extremely helpful to connect both parts of the brain. It opens up so many more creative ideas, solutions and opportunities. Thank you for showing me how to draw them out even further. – Thomas
I’m in the midst of a big move in my career. It’s the move that I’ve wanted for two years. I put parts of it on my visual map. That drawing made me see that this big move is even bigger and better than I what I first thought. Now I know exactly what I need to do to move forward. Thank you for introducing me to visual goal setting! – Tan
I have brought many dreams to fruition using envisioning. But, drawing took that dream tool to a whole new level and I feel like my world and I have changed since I did it. I came home and in pencil, sketched the life I’m living now and where I will be. The confirmation came immediately with one of the things I wanted happening the next day! – Stacy
- Al-Aidroos; Said & Turk-Browne, “Top-down attention switches coupling between low-level and high-level areas of human visual cortex” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America vol. 109 no. 36 (2012): 14675-14680. ↩
- Snyder et al. “The role of hope in cognitive behavior therapies.” Cognitive Therapy and Research, vol. 24, (2000): 747-762 ↩
- Reinhart, McClenahan & Woodman, “Visualizing Trumps Vision in Training Attention” Psychological Science vol. 26 no. 7 (2015): 1114-1122. ↩
- Grill-Spector, Henson & Martin, “Repetition and the brain: Neural models of stimulus-specific effects.” Trends in Cognitive Sciences , vol. 10 no. 1 (2006):14-23 . ↩
- Moeller, Theiler & Wu, “Goal Setting and Student Achievement: A Longitudinal Study” The Modern Language Journal vol. 96 no. 2 (2012): 153-169. ↩
- Gollwitzer & Oettingen ”Planning promotes goal striving” In Handbook of self-regulation: Research, theory, and applications. ed. Vohs & Baumeister (New York: Guilford, 2011), pp. 162-185 ↩