Want To Make Fewer Mistakes? Visualize!

On Wednesday, I wrote about the need to embrace mistakes and even cultivate them in order to strengthen the brain and expand our abilities. As I heard from some of you, none of us really wants to make mistakes though. Isn’t there a shortcut to learning that enables us to avoid making mistakes?

As a matter of fact, there is. While we can’t avoid mistakes all together, we can cut down on the number we make in our lives by taking the time to visualize a successful outcome before we begin any endeavor.

Research indicates that mentally rehearsing any action repeatedly builds the same new or stronger neural networks or pathways in the brain that physically practicing does. So we can become an expert at something before we physically do it! One study showed that when a group of individuals observed, mentally learned, and then practiced only in their head a one-handed, five-finger sequence played on the piano, they recorded the same level of brain activity and change as the group that had physically practiced the sequence on the piano for two hours every day for five days!

I first learned of this research in Dr. Joe Dispenza’s book, Evolve Your Brain. Dispenza went on to point out that “with the proper mental effort, the brain does not know the difference between mental or physical effort.” Successful athletes have known this for years and use the process of mental rehearsal or visualization to excel at their chosen sport. However, the rest of us (and I bet even those athletes in other areas of their lives) forget to use this available-to-all talent prior to taking on a new activity.

With the popularity of the movie and book, The Secret, many now understand the power of visualizing what we want and may do it for big ticket items or dreams, but may forget to use it for developing skills or achieving success for day-to-day experiences. I’m certainly guilty of this, and I teach workshops on this subject!

In the case of minimizing mistakes and developing master-level skills, we first need to know what master-level performance is. Do you have a role-model for what you aspire to be an expert at? If not, take time to observe someone who’s the best at what you want to do.

Next, carve out some time to visualize yourself as a master at what you want. Practice successfully exhibiting your chosen skill repeatedly, then test out your new expertise.

I’ve got some visualization practice to do this weekend. How about you?

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