A recent study tells us that imagining something instead of simply practicing it leads to more success, and Visualization + Imagination = Success is the magic equation. Could that really be all it takes to create a successful outcome? And that visualization could be just as powerful as practice? Professional athletes, who have been using visualization exercises to help reinforce their muscle memory for years, are already sold on the idea of visualization as a key to success. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all could solve everyday problems faster, or score higher on an important test, and have greater confidence when working towards peak performances?
Success Begins in Our Brains
We can improve the outcomes of the simplest tasks by using our imagination to visualize the imagined outcome, according to recent research published in Psychological Science by Woodman and colleagues (2015). Their results indicate that success begins in our brains even without the investment of time spent in training. And so now we have additional evidence for how visualization affects successful performance. Everybody who remembers the famous free throws that Michael Jordan completed with his eyes closed, is reminded of how visualization actually works. He was a person who practiced imagery, or visualization – and he clearly had it right. The bottom line is combining physical actions with mental visualizations deepens the impact of both.
Imagination May be More Important than Practice
Both sports and the performing arts uniquely have to do with muscle memory and hand-eye coordination. And what this new research suggests is that imagination may be more important than practice, and generally as an attribute of success for people in every walk of life. This is because visualization is not meant to just improve motor performance, but it is also used to promote sharper focus and visual processing. This means that success begins in our brains, with all its’ mysterious processing and imaginings, before it actually manifests itself in performance. One can be successful by repetitive practice and other material methods, but ultimate success (success that comes faster and more accurately) begins when a person imagines the act first, according to this study – where imagination is superior to practice.
Source: Woodman, GF; Reinhart, RMG; McClenahan, LJ. Visualizing Trumps Vision in Training Attention. Psychological Science, 2015.