Long Live the Daydream

Daydreams aren’t just for poets and bored school children. These days, you could call your daydream a visualization technique and be on the cutting edge of performance enhancement practices. Daydreams are a technique for slowing down the pace in order to accomplish more, and a way for you to recognize when you have achieved a goal.

In an article by adviser Marla Tabaka in, she notes that visualization is so powerful because “as you see and feel images that portray your desired outcome, the cognitive dissonance in your brain increases. But this is a good thing. The increased discomfort sends a message to your brain that you are not giving up on this goal. The brain wants to create balance so it will change directions to figure out ways to make your success happen.”

Becoming clear about your goals requires some discipline of considering answers to the following questions:

  • What will change, or be the outcome, of achieving my goal?
  • How/what will I feel when I achieve this goal? What will I feel more of? What will I feel less of?
  • What will be different in my life/career when I achieve this goal?

Here are a few steps to help turn your daydream in to a reality:

Step One: Be Specific About Your Goal
Nebulous goals about being happy or wealthier, or in better shape, or getting a promotion really are daydreams.  It’s difficult to build reality around something so vague. If you‘ve always wanted to achieve the role of vice president, for example, you might visualize becoming an executive, and observe how those in those positions behave.  Get clear about what it takes to become an executive. Find a mentor who can help you assess what you need to learn. Hire a coach who can help you develop your capacity and capabilities to move toward that goal. DON’T let doubts and fear hold you back from thinking BIG. DO start with something within the realm of possibility. An achievable starting point will help spur you to action.

Step Two: Get the Details
To truly visualize achieving your goal, you’ll need to add details to your mental picture.  The more you know, the more vivid your daydream can be. Do some research and take a “friend in the business” out to lunch, so that your details are nonfiction ones. Build your own personal database of the details, including taking on stretch assignments, reading and actively seeking feedback and guidance from those who have expertise and experience in the areas where you want to lead.  Build your personal network.

Step Three: Imagine Achieving Your Goal
Now that you’ve got the details, it’s time to rev up your mental movie screen. Imagine yourself in the present, and then imagine yourself taking all the steps needed to achieve your goals.  “I’m enrolling in an MBA program; I’m sitting at my computer typing out a stand-out resume; I’m taking on challenging assignments while supporting my team in achieving their goals; I’m sitting down with the CEO at my dream job and blowing her socks off; I’m looking out the window of my new office.” Repeat, repeat and repeat this daydream, and find real-life ways of reinforcing the gap between the dream and reality by being open to feedback and good hard looks in the mirror.

Before you know it, you’ll need to get a new daydream.