Creative Visualization: Turning Fantasy Into Reality

Written by on October 29, 2017 in Self-Awareness, Sense of Purpose

Creative Visualization


I believe in dreams. Our dreams give us hope and energy and the vision we create of what life can be inspires us to rise above our circumstances, overcome hardship and challenge the unknown.

Of course, a vision is basically a fantasy created from our desires, the question is how to turn that fantasy into reality.

For years one school of thought and perennial self-help advice proclaimed the key to turning dreams into reality was to simply visualize them as already complete – in full color and in the most vivid details and emotion possible – then allow yourself to f-e-e-l the energy and you will attract the object your desires to you.

Dreams alone are nothing more than fantasy wishes, and fantasy wishing is just throwing a penny into a fountain. ~Shawn Anderson

I would be living a very different life today had I not doggedly pursued my dream of a better life as I worked three jobs to pull myself out of the financial pit I was left in following divorce, or through multiple surgeries and months of treatments after being diagnosed with an “incurable” eye disease.

And then there was the career change that everyone told me was a foolish dream that turned into a successful twenty-year career.

Still, I am not now, nor will I ever be, a fan of the “manifest your vision with enough energy and all your dreams will become reality” fan club.

While there are enough stories about athletes successfully using visualization to know there’s something to it, I’ve also seen way too many people buy into the notion that if they want something bad enough and put enough passion into their vision, the object of their desire would magically appear.

Most ended up frustrated, disillusioned and blaming what they perceive to be their inability to muster enough energy for their lack of results.

So why does visualization work for some and not for others?

Making Creative Visualization Work for You

In its most basic form, visualization is simply a self-motivation tool for your goal pursuing arsenal. The idea being that when we visualize our desired goal, we begin to “see” the possibility of achieving it.

Through visualization, we catch a glimpse of something we want to have happen, obtain or achieve; and when this happens, theoretically we then become motivated and prepared to pursue our goal.

It’s been well documented that visualization helps athletic performance by improving motivation, coordination, and concentration.

It also aids in relaxation and helps reduce fear and anxiety. In the words of one researcher, “Athletes visualize not only the results but taking the actions to achieve the results, again and again, and this helps them perform with confidence, poise, and perfection.”

Please take note of the difference between the approach described above – visualizing successfully completing each action up to and including the end goal – versus the traditional self-help advice of focusing only on the desired outcome.

So if you’ve had less than inspiring results with visualization it may be you’ve been missing a critical step in the process because research studies have shown there are actually two types of visualization, each of which serves a distinct purpose.

It is the combination of these two processes that result in the higher level of motivation and achievement recorded in athletes.

The Combination Method of Visualization

Process Visualization

This is envisioning the mastering of each of the steps required to achieve a goal rather than focusing on the end result. For example, if you were planning to run a marathon, as part of your preparation for the race you would visualize yourself running well — legs pumping like pistons, arms relaxed, breathing controlled.

In your mind, you would break the course into sections and visualize how you will run each part, thinking about your pace, gait and split time. Imagine what it will feel like when you hit “the wall,” that point in the race where your body wants to stop, and more importantly, what you must do to break through it.

Outcome Visualization

This involves creating a detailed mental image of the desired outcome using all of your senses. Going back to the marathon example, you would visualize yourself crossing the finish line in the time you desire.

Holding that vision as long as possible, imagine what it will feel like to pass under the finishing banner, looking at your watch, the cool air on your overheated body, crossing the finish line, hearing the cheers and seeing the smiling faces of those waiting to greet you as you finish … your family, friends and other runners.

Don’t beat yourself up if you struggle to come up with the mental imagery.

It’s important to keep in mind that we each process information in different ways. Some people are more visual in nature, others auditory, and many of us are the gotta see it, feel it, touch it types, but regardless of what your information processing preference is, it is possible to adapt it to take advantage of the benefits of visualization.

For example, if you are more comfortable learning or processing information in the auditory form, you could create a recording with as much detail as possible of each step to achieving your goal and listen to your recording as a type of meditation to translate the words and sounds into your vision.

In order to make a vision a reality, you must be willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen. ~Wayne Dyer

Dreams Do Not Work Unless You Do

Regardless of what method you use, visualization does not guarantee success. It also does not take the place hard work and practice.

But there is no question that the two methods of visualization, combined with a measure of tenacity and diligent effort, will serve as a powerful catalyst to help you develop a skill, overcome challenges and achieve even your most daring dreams and goals.

Related reading:
Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.
About Marquita Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living click here.


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  1. Ah .. visualization … an innate skill for motivation, calm, insight, and even answers.. wonderful discussion. Dreams and visualization.. part of the fabric of who we are and can be…
    Lesly Federici recently posted…9125 Thousand Days to Reach My DestinationMy Profile

  2. Hi Marquita,
    I believe in dreams too! I did not know about your surgeries and treatments for “an incurable eye disease.” I am a very visual person so I was sad to learn about that. Hope all is well now! Effective visualization that includes your combination of the process of Visualization using Envisioning -mastering of each step and Outcome Visualization – the detailed mental image of the desired outcome makes perfect sense to me. I love the quote from Wayne Dyer Perfect fit for your excellent article.
    Kathryn Maclean recently posted…Pinterest Sign Up NowMy Profile

  3. Elise Cohen Ho

    I love to visualize my goals. I, in fact, do this almost every night before I sleep. IT helps me to wake up ready to conquer the world (ok, my day… I will conquer my day.)
    Elise Cohen Ho recently posted…Welcome to The Eating SeasonMy Profile

  4. Rachel Lavern

    “Dreams Do Not Work Unless You Do” is one of my favorite quotes due the countless number of people I’ve run into who think they will, as you said, magically have something fall into their laps. There is there is not a substitute for hard work–no one had greatness handed to them. And I agree that it also takes practice. Deliberate practice makes perfect.

    Tiger Woods admits to using visualization; however, his dad got him started in golf when he was 18 months old and he practiced intensively and devotes several hours a day to conditioning and practice.
    Rachel Lavern recently posted…How Do You Spend Your Days?My Profile

  5. Hi Marquita,

    Fantastic read I must say! I’ve often been called a day dreamer who lives in a fantasy world. Visualizations is something I am very big on and often spend time doing so on many different things.

    My own internal visualizations on theories and various ideas are very important to me. With them I’m able to understand very complex topics.

    Your article has given me yet another way looking at this. I often follow my thoughts to a conclusion, but hadn’t considered thinking about the outcomes.

    Action on a dream has lead me to try many different things. Not being persistent and sticking at it had been an issue. I’ve since addressed and with reading your article I know I’m on the right track!

    Thank you for a great read!

  6. Hi Marquita,
    This is a great post, full of truth.
    In a world of matter, visualization alone can NEVER create desired result, ACTION must be used to back it up.
    Thanks for sharing.

  7. Izuzu Nworgu

    Dreams do not work unless you do -That’s fantastic and so true.

    I love this article.

    Our dreams are factors that keep us going because they give us hope and they give us the energy to continue even when challenges and tough times appear before us.
    But these dreams will not come true if we just sit back and do nothing. Visualization, hardwork (not just working hard but working smart) and perseverance can bring these dreams to reality.

    Thank you for writing this☺

    Izuzu Nworgu recently posted…My Most Embarrassing Public Speaking ExperienceMy Profile

  8. Mark

    Thanks for sharing such practical advice M!

    And also, thanks so much, for including, the much needed reality check.

    Meaning, sadly, far too many wishful thinkers, including some aspiring entrepreneurs, are somehow totally convinced, simply creating a visual picture of their desires, will magically cause it to happen!LOL!

    Good luck with that!

    You’ve definitely made it abundantly clear there more certainly will, be some elbow grease involved! and the sooner this undeniable fact is accepted, the better off we’ll be!LOL!

    Thanks for not sugar coating reality!LOl!

  9. Phoenicia

    This is a deep post Marquita.

    I have no problems in visualising, in fact I probably do too much of it!

    You really do need to visualise your dreams in order to go on to pursue them. You need to “see” yourself doing well in order to believe you will do well.

    Great illustration with regards to athletes. Their inner strength is just as important as their outer strength.
    Phoenicia recently posted…Five tips to stay focused!My Profile

  10. Donna Merrill

    Hi Marquita,

    It’s great that you put an athlete’s example in this post. Some people do think creative visualization is magical thinking. But it’s not!

    I have done so in the past and once you “see” yourself accomplishing something though visualization, you work towards it. It is a great feeling!

    Lately I’m having trouble visualizing….probably not creating the time to do so. The last time I did this successfully was with a MP3 to focus and it worked so well. I do need some “guidance” sometimes.

    Donna Merrill recently posted…How To Be A Genuine Blogger Who People LoveMy Profile

  11. Edward Thorpe

    Hi Marquita,

    I’m too literal to use the so called visualization & feeling your success theory deal.

    On the other hand, mentally practicing the action steps needed for
    successful outcome seems like a natural.

    It’s rumored that Michael Jordan would often go on court before a game and complete a mental walk through of his role in each play of an upcoming game. Interesting post, thank you,
    Edward Thorpe recently posted…4 Tips On How To Keep Your Skin Young and FreshMy Profile

  12. Interesting post. I tend not to visualize the future as I’m too busy living in the now.
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…great chocolate shops in MontrealMy Profile

    • Yep, well there’s a reason I equated visualization to fantasy because for many people who consider themselves to be “realists” that’s how they view the process. Still, I think it’s safe to say that most athletes live in the now since it’s critical to their careers, and yet many rely extensively on visualization to help them reach the top of their game. I admit I tend to be a bit of a realist myself, but I believe having the ability to imagine something better is how we grow and in some cases achieve the impossible. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with us! 🙂

  13. Chery Schmidt

    Hello Marty! Your explanation of the combination method of visualization was right on cue! First Step! To process each of the steps along the way, rather than focusing on the end result like everyone else is teaching! And then to follow through with visualizing the outcome just makes a whole lot more sense! Right? I Love It! You My Friend have Such A GREAT Way With Words!

    Thank YOU!
    Chery :))
    Chery Schmidt recently posted…Do You Have A Game Plan For Succeeding Online?My Profile

  14. Well said again. Do you get tired of hearing that from me, oh she who hits the nail smack on the head?

    I think I accidentally have used both approaches. When I first had to teach a 6-hour in-house workshop, I wrote out all the things I expected a facilitator to be able to do. Then I recorded myself teaching, practiced in front of a mirror, read and re-read the material for 60 hours. So both visualization and head down doing the work.

    Dreams are great starting places, just not where I want to finish.
    RoseMary Griffith recently posted…Book Review: The Late ShowMy Profile

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