IMG_1237It is that time of the year again: a time when many people reflect on the journey of the last year and look forward to the journey of the coming year. There are many statistics and research results out there showing that visualization, goal setting, and refocusing help you reach your goals.

Many elite athletes routinely use visualization techniques as a part of their practice and preparations for competitions to enhance their performance. This is called creative visualization. Creative visualization is the basic technique underlying positive thinking. My dear friend Kimberly Wiefling of Wiefling Consulting always says, “Positive Thinking is a Strategy”. In other words, you can slowly change your mindset by being conscious of your thoughts and thinking positively. Using the same strategy you can visualize the outcomes you want. Of course this does not mean, that every outcome will be exactly as visualized but it helps your mind to spot opportunities you might otherwise miss. It also helps you to deal with failure by looking for the positive in the negative.

As I wrote on Wednesday, the last quarter of this year has been highly stressful for me. I used the power of positive thinking not to fully stress out and strangle some people. Here are some of the techniques I use:

  1. Live in the present moment – You cannot change the past and the future is unknown. I cannot tell you how many times last quarter I thought, “If only we had done xxx…”, but we didn’t and they haven’t invented time travel (yet) so I have to deal with the present.
  2. Look for the positive – You are in control to interpret the current situation as is: somewhere there is a positive interpretation. With all the delays getting the apartment and fully running out of time, the additional time did give us time to go through all our belongings: sort them, give stuff away or throw stuff out.
  3. Visualize a successful outcome – Imagine yourself in the situation: how does it feel, look and smell, what is being said, what actions are taken. It might help you clarify what to do next. It also emphasizes the reasons you are on your current journey and at the very least might improve your mood by feeling the end result.
  4. Be grateful – Remind yourself of all the reasons you have to be grateful. It helps to maintain focus on the situation. Being thankful will often turn initial frustration into something more positive. I always put things in perspective by thinking of the people who really need to fight for their daily livelihood. Any of my problems are minor compared to theirs.

There is research that shows that having a positive attitude can even help lower stress levels and improve your health. I would not say it improved my health in the last quarter but it definitely kept my stress levels in check.

Of course there is always the risk of the pendulum effect: if you become excessively positive, you might be reluctant to listen to alternative viewpoints, which help to provide other perspectives.

Try it for yourself!!  There is no downside… :-)

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