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Imagining positive outcomes is super fun, wouldn’t you agree?
Last week you were exploring using your Imagination to help yourself work with a change you wanted to happen.
How did it go?
Did you remember to imagine or were you consumed by your day to day life?
No worries, you will catch yourself imagining more often than not. And those imaginings can turn into reality.
Here is an example of how this can play out. I once worked with a corporate vice president who wanted to expand the potential of her team so they would be better problem solvers and decision makers. She was tired of having every small decision go through her.
I set up a game to build a team charter (an agreed upon set of behaviors) as a way of seeing exactly what happened when her team was faced with a decision. I wanted to intervene on the dynamics that resulted in their inability to find their own solutions.
The room was staged just like a board game, with big colored squares on the floor representing the different steps they normally followed in decision making. Then I added a bunch of blank squares to the game board. If someone landed on one of the random blank squares, they had the power to change anything about the process they were working on. They could change the people, place, roles, handoffs, or any part of the team dynamics they wanted. This became everyone’s favorite square. When they landed on it, they suddenly took charge, confidently making big changes and moving everything around to new places on the board.
After a few hours, we stopped to reflect on what they had experienced. I asked what had made that random square so exciting and powerful?
“It was like a portal to my unconscious and my imagination,” one person explained, “It gave me permission to dream up the impossible and allowed me to be fully responsible for making my own decisions.”
They took the concept of the random square back to their workplace and made it a part of their everyday decision making. As a result, they all felt free to make decisions, trusting their own creativity and problem-solving skills.
A key piece to getting the most out of your imagination is letting it have the freedom to roam with a little guidance from you. Often when we run into a roadblock, we default to our negative bias or stories from the past and let our imagination pull out the old pictures from the past, when we were unsuccessful with a similar challenge. But when you stop and let yourself be curious like you did when learning a new skill as a child, you invariably invite in a positive spin on the possible outcome to the current situation. There’s that Creative Genius You coming through again.
Let’s see how you can use your imagination to reprogram yourself. Start by replaying a situation that you wish you had handled a little better. Something simple, like the problem you have with your dog who always pulls on his leash.
What’s your standard response?
If you’re like me you may yank on the leash, doing your best to physically pull your dog. (For those of you who are not dog owners, this is known as the Yank and Crank Method of dog training: it has been proven time and time again to be highly ineffective.) The harder you pull in one direction, the harder your dog pulls in another, resulting in a tug of war.
Let’s take this method for dog walking and see if we can find a better outcome. If your negative bias has its way, you will replay this power play with your dog over and over. Sometimes you’ll win, sometimes your dog will.
Because your brain is wired to use negative bias as the default mode of responding when you try to make a change, it sees no options but the one in front of you. You tell yourself to pull harder and maybe this time your dog will respond differently. The pattern doesn’t change because there is no random square in the game to generate the possibility for something different to happen!
If you really want things to be different you have to change the way you approach the entire situation by imagining a scenario with a better outcome. Imagine the moment your dog reaches the end of his leash and begins to tug.
What dog trainers tell you to do in this situation is to turn on your heel and walk in a different direction so your dog, unsure of what is happening, has no choice but to follow you.
That’s right, you take the lead and direct the outcome. And your dog, no longer finding you a willing player in the old game, follows along.
Having imagined a different scenario, you are now back out on the street, your dog begins to pull and instead of following the same old script, you play the scene in the way you imagined it in your mind with a new outcome. If you slip and feel yourself going back to your old way of doing something, try to remind yourself of the new possibilities you’ve created by saying something out loud, like “shift” or “change.”
Why I am encouraging you to first imagine a situation and give it a different outcome is because your brain doesn’t know the difference between what you have imagined and what you have actually done. Imagination is a powerful tool for creating the solutions you desire.
Here's this week’s mission should you choose to accept it:
Think of something you currently do that you need to adjust, like the example I gave about dog walking – perhaps it’s something like spending too much time on social media, or negative self-talk.
Choose something simple and write it on a page in your journal.
Then I want you to describe what you do right now so you understand what it’s about.
Once you know what it is about, imagine what it will be like when the behavior is corrected.
How will you be acting?
What will you be doing differently?
Write that future you state down too.
Now practice doing that using your imagination. See it over and over again in your mind. Play the scene with your mind and feel how good it will feel when this shift has occurred. Set an alarm and do this every 3 hours and play the scene the way it will go once this is in place throughout your day and especially right before you fall asleep.
Upon awakening, this is your new normal as far as your brain goes, so when you catch yourself doing the old behavior, say out loud “change” and shift your behavior – put the phone down, or say the positive belief about yourself out loud.
Let me know how it goes by posting in our FB group!
Big love to you and have a great weekend,