Which works better, the carrot or the stick? In Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy Revised and Updated, David Burns writes that clubbing yourself doesn't work as well as a fat, fresh carrot:
"Suppose for example, you want to quit smoking. You may be reminding
yourself about cancer and all the dangers of smoking. These fear tactics make you so nervous that you immediately reach for another cigarette; they don't work. "
Burns shares a three step method for visualizing success that actually does work.
Summary of Steps
To visualize success effectively, take the following actions:
- Step 1. List the advantages of taking the positive action.
- Step 2. Fantasize you are in your favorite spot.
- Step 3. Go through your list of benefits.
Step 1. List the advantages of taking the positive action.
Prepare a list of all the positive consequences that you would enjoy if you take the action. Write down as many as you can and prioritize them. List the most important first.
Step 2. Fantasize you are in your favorite spot.
Each night, before sleep, fantasize that you're in your favorite spot. This could be walking on a mountain trail, lying on a beach ... etc. Focus on every enjoyable detail and let your body go.
Step 3. Go through your list of benefits.
Once your body is relaxed, go through your list of benefits one by one. State each benefit as if you already have it. For example, you might say, "Now that I have greater self-discipline, I can take on other challenges."
I like the fact that Burns is shares a technique he's successfully used on himself and with many of his patients. I know that mental conditioning is a common practice among athletes and peak performers. I'm also a believer that if you can see something in your mind's eye, you have a better chance of achieving it. If you can't visualize success, then chances are you won't achieve it (a self-fulfilling prophecy.)