How Your Brain Can Make Your Dreams Come True
Vision boards used to really bug me.
I just didn't see the point.
They seemed like a craft project I might've done in high school or with the youth I used to work with in mental health promotion.
And while I still don't love the idea of cutting out pictures from magazines and gluing them into a collage (mostly because the images in pop culture magazines are so far from how I see myself and my life), I've learned that the act of creating a vision for your future really does help make it come true.
Not through some woo-woo, hokey magic but through human psychology.
It's called priming the brain. When we create a vision (vision, according to google dictionary, is "the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom") for what we want our future to look like, our brain is primed to seek out opportunities that align with that vision. Take car shopping, for example. When you think you've picked out the make and model you want but are still deciding, you start noticing all the same cars everywhere you go, whereas before, you took no notice.
So how can this help you get you what you want? Let's say you want to become a writer. Sure, you could make a vision board OR you could also just spend a few minutes imagining what you want your life as a writer to look like.
What would your dream writing office look like?
What kind of author conferences would you go to?
What would it feel like to hold your first published novel in your hands?
How would it feel to tell loved ones that you're a published author? For me, the images that those questions draw up make my heart sing. And the more time I spend imagining a reality where the answers to those questions come true, the more my brain picks up on things like:
Books at the library on writing,
Anytime someone talks about writing,
Advertisements for writing classes,
Posts in Facebook groups looking for practicing writers.
So in a way, envisioning your future DOES work like magic because by spending a few minutes daydreaming - POOF - your brain will find you all kinds of opportunities you didn't see before.
For some of us, the act of imagining our dreams coming true feels scary, almost as though we'll jinx it and it'll be less likely to come true or that we'll increase our chances of disappointment because if we'd never imagined it in the first place, then we can't be disappointed when it doesn't happen.
But for those of you pragmatists/realists, here is one way to feel more reassured by this process: rather than focusing on the images themselves that you dream up, focus on the feelings they create instead.
While you can't bet on your imagined future coming true, you CAN bet on the feelings that come from imagining that future. You can do things to elicit the same emotions you look forward to in your imagined future, RIGHT NOW.
So who cares about the future dream and whether or not it comes true, hang on to the feelings that came with the dream and ask yourself: What gives me those same feelings in my life now?
What can I do to generate more of those same feelings right now? For me, I can go spend 15 minutes writing anything I feel like. Because writing gives me FLOW (read more about flow in this post), it will get me the same high (or maybe even a better one) as whatever future reality I might be wishing for.
And each time I go write for 15 minutes and get some flow, I ALSO get closer to my dream (because I can't become a writer if I don't write, right?). And the grit you need to make your dream come true comes from perseverance + passion (and our passions are typically the activities that bring us flow).
In addition to vision boards and daydreaming, check out these other ways you can prime your brain to help make your dreams come true:
Write positive messages related to the future you want on post-its around the house. Swap them out regularly to avoid adapting to them (and consequentially ignoring them).
Find real-life success stories of people achieving a similar dream to yours.
Imagine who you will be when your dream comes true. What does that version of yourself want the present you to know? What beliefs does that future self have? Start practicing those thoughts and beliefs now (through something like a morning mantra or meditation).
Involve yourself with people or activities that are in line with what you want.
Journal on it every day.
Show yourself compassion for where you're at in your journey. Love yourself. Be patient.
The best part about these activities is that they generate a ton of positive, optimistic and inspired emotions. And in addition to making you feel good, positive emotions actually generate more productivity and creativity.
So dream all you want, there are only good things to be had from it. Including just maybe, the dream you're hoping for itself.
The only snag you might come across in using this strategy to feel inspired and get closer to your dream is the pressure it can create in your mind to achieve it.
Daydreaming and focusing on what you want to achieve can be so exciting that you might start feeling disappointed when your dreams don't come true at the pace you expected or in the way you had hoped.
If this happens for you, at any point along your journey, I recommend:
1. Staying in your own lane.
Looking to success stories can inspire but they can also intimidate. Make sure the ones you're looking to are also sharing the process of how they got to where they're at. This will help you see that things don't happen overnight or through magic.
Those who achieve success have worked hard for it and have struggled. Focus on their dedication and hard work rather than the outcome they've achieved. This is you practicing a growth mindset (read more on that here).
2. Recognize the journey as a process.
This requires some patience (if you're feeling impatient, read this post) and some realistic acknowledgment that things simply don't happen overnight.
You may be the most educated, the most talented or the most deserving of the outcome you're hoping for but everything happens through a process (think about projects at work that take forever to come to completion).
The sooner you can come to peace with this, the sooner you can enjoy the journey. One good way to do this is to mentally celebrate all the small steps along the way, right in the moment they happen. (Think: "I just reached out to that bigwig! Go me!")
You will never get to repeat the exact steps you're taking today. You'll never get to relive this exact moment now. See if you can't find some joy and excitement in the baby steps you're taking. To the you you were yesterday, these are GIANT steps.
If your brain is excited about the possibility of creating a new reality for yourself but you aren't sure quite how to maek it happen, book a free consultation here.