Visualization And How It Can Transform Your Life

Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant, LMHC
Updated May 1, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Kids naturally use creativity and their imaginations as they grow up. Upon reaching adulthood, this may start to come to an end—something experts are beginning to see as premature. Many successful people are crediting the act of visualization as the secret to their success, which may be encouraging for those who miss using their imaginations as they once did as children. Visualization can look different for everyone, including how it’s carried out, when and where you practice it, and how it affects your life. Understanding and using this technique can help transform your life in various ways.

A couple that just got married are standing outside together and are looking up and smiling; there is rice being thrown around them.
Could visualization be the key to reaching your goals?

What is visualization?

Visualization is the process of picturing in your mind the things that you want in and out of your life. During visualization, you focus on attaining them and think about what it would be like if you achieved those goals.

Visualization is usually paired with meditation and mindfulness. This process varies, but it often looks like going to a quiet place, closing your eyes, calming your body, and starting to think about the things that you want to experience in life. During this process, it may help to get as detailed as you possibly can.

Here’s an example: If you want to win an award in the future for contributions at your place of work, you can close your eyes and picture yourself winning the award. You can think about what it would feel like to hear your name called as the winner. You might picture what you would wear and how you would look. You can also imagine the details about who is presenting the award to you, what they are saying about you, and what it feels like to hold the award in your hand.

How to visualize

If you want to start adding the practice of visualization into your life, here are some steps that you can follow.

  1. Find a quiet place to sit. Make sure this is a place where you will not be disturbed.
  2. Close your eyes and take several deep breaths to help yourself relax.
  3. Begin to think about the outcome, object, or situation that you want in your life. Think about it as clearly as possible with every detail that you can imagine. Fully feel the emotions related to what you are visualizing.
  4. Practice doing this at least once a day, but preferably more.

You don't have to spend hours visualizing. It can be something that you do for just 5 or 10 minutes every time you get started. When you have finished visualizing, you might try to hold on to that vision throughout the day. 

What is the science behind visualization?

The science behind visualization relates to the neural patterns of your brain. As you continue to visualize the things that you want in your life, you may create neural patterns in the same way as if you had actually done those activities. This is why, as studies have shown, basketball players may increase the percentage of shots they make by training their brains. The nervous system of your body is stimulated just by your thinking about something, even if you have never taken part in the activity before.

Visualization entails training your mind. In a way, you are practicing experiencing whatever it is that you want in your life. The more you focus on something, the more likely you may be to see it in your life. You've probably heard the idea that you get in life what you expect. If you don't expect much in life, you are likely to achieve just that because your mind has settled and, subconsciously, you are not motivated to go after what it is that you really want.

However, when you spend time actively visualizing what it is you want for yourself, you are creating the motivation within yourself to go after it. The more you visualize it, the more you can see and believe that it is possible in your life. You can also look for more opportunities to make it happen.


How can visualization transform your life?

Visualization can significantly impact your life for the better. The following are a few ways in which you may benefit from visualization.

Improve performance

There are many athletes who participate in visualization to improve their athletic ability, and this strategy can also apply to non-athletes. Visualizing your work performance can help you to deliver higher-quality results and boost your productivity.

One of the reasons that your performance can improve is that you may be more focused on your work. You're training your mind to focus through the visualization process. We all have many daily distractions, including other people and technology. Our brain gets used to having this constant stimulation and activity; however, it also makes it more difficult for us to focus. When you practice visualization, you are getting into the routine of calming your mind, thus training yourself to focus on one thing at a time. You're retraining your brain to focus.

Overcome anxiety

There's a large percentage of people who hate public speaking or experience anxiety while doing it. This includes standing in front of a larger room full of people or giving a presentation in front of a group of co-workers. If you have a presentation coming up, you might overcome your anxiety and nervousness with the practice of visualization. Visualizing giving your speech and having a positive response may help you to remember your speech. It can also allow you to go in with more confidence when you are ready to perform.

Learn what you really want

Life is busy, and if we don't take the time to think about what we want, we may never figure it out. When you spend time visualizing situations and thinking through the details of them, you can get in tune with yourself and begin to understand yourself on a deeper level. You're likely more able to see the things that you want to achieve in life, which can help you to understand on a deeper level why you want those things. Visualizations can allow you to come up with clear goals and really understand what it is that you want. The more detailed you are, the clearer you can be about what that looks like in your life.

Reduce the amount of stress that you experience

When you take time to visualize, you're taking time out of your day, and that can help you to get away from the stress in your life. You are calming yourself from the inside out, which can help to alleviate the pressure of stress. You are learning how to control your thoughts. This can be an important ability if you are constantly living in stressful situations. Visualization may help you to take control of what you are thinking about and how your body is reacting.

By continuing to practice visualization, you may learn to control your body's reaction and calm your mind even in the midst of a difficult situation when you don't have time to step away. These practices can also be used when you are trying to fall asleep.

There are many different ways to talk about visualization, and there are successful people who practice it. If you are experiencing difficulty filling your head with positive things that you want for your life, there could be an underlying concern at play. You can discuss this with a licensed counselor, as visualization is not a cure for everything and may not be enough for some of the challenges you’re facing. 

Could visualization be the key to reaching your goals?

Online counseling with BetterHelp

If you’d like to learn more about visualization along with other kinds of helpful methods, consider speaking with a licensed therapist. If you don’t like the idea of going to a therapy practice, you might try online therapy, which numerous studies have shown to be as effective as in-office therapy. One of the benefits of evidence-based online therapy at BetterHelp is that it’s available anywhere, including from the comfort of your own home. You can participate in sessions via phone call, video chat, or a feature that allows you to send messages back and forth with your therapist. This remote nature also usually makes online therapy more affordable than in-office therapy.

Counselor reviews

“Rhonda is great. She helped me cut through my mental clutter, and use breathing, visualization and sensory mindfulness to mitigate and address some of life's issues.”

“Dr. Gemma is the absolute best! Within a short period of time, she was able to help me see things from a different perspective, allowed me to be vulnerable and transparent (something that hasn't been easy for me) and just overall listened and provided amazing feedback!”


Visualization, among other techniques, can transform your life in a number of ways. If you’ve never used this method before, you may wonder how to get started. Connecting with an online therapist may help you to learn more about visualization and equip you with other helpful techniques as well. Reaching your goals and moving toward the life you imagine may feel simpler with a licensed therapist guiding and supporting you along the way. Take the first step to learning more about visualization and reach out to BetterHelp today.
Visualize your goals in therapy
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