6 Guidelines for Creative Visualization

BY Mike Dooley        January 2, 2015

Here are the six visualizing guidelines that I personally follow when I visualize that allow me to get into the details. They’re not rules. You can come up with your own and develop your own patterns and habits. For me, these are what work and I've got some rationale behind each that I’ll share, but I don't want you to think that these are rules. I'm always making exceptions to them and so can you. This exercise is simply based upon our thoughts becoming things, which is really the only “rule” there is.

1. Visualize once a day.
Once a day is all that’s necessary. Of course, you can think happy thoughts on your way to work, or falling asleep at night, and you might even visualize a second or third time every now and then, but overall let this be an exercise that you do one time each day and then let it go.

I’ve met too many people who’ve never visualized before in their life, yet suddenly they read or hear about visualizing, get very excited, and then want to do it forty-seven times a day! If you go overboard, thinking that if once is good a hundred times must be better, chances are you're going to start comparing your champagne and caviar dreamed-of-life with where you now are and become overwhelmed with the disparity and the distance that it seems that you have to travel. You may even become discouraged to the point of quitting visualization altogether. Moreover, you're constantly and perpetually living in some future world and you’re going to miss out on who you already are and all you already have. Don't do that to yourself. Do it once a day and let it go.

2. Visualize no longer than five to ten minutes at a time.
If you try to visualize longer, no matter who you are, you’re going to start day-dreaming…probably about sex! Or something else equally distracting. And then you're going to get mad at yourself. You’ll label yourself, thinking you must have adult ADD. You’ll then draw the false conclusion that visualizing doesn't work for you. It does work for you and it’s easy, just cut it off at no more than five or ten minutes. I visualize every morning before work for just four minutes.

3. Imagine every conceivable detail.
Playfully create imaginative, elaborate scenes in your mind’s eye that depict your changed life. Imagine the sights, sounds, colors, textures, and aromas. Make the image in your mind as real and vivid as possible. Of course, I’m not talking about attaching to those details. Just use them to get excited about all the amazing changes that will soon be happening in your life. This how the details are valuable—priceless, even.

4. Feel the emotion.
Feel what you'd expect to feel, experiencing the life you dream of experiencing. Feel the joy, the confidence, the satisfaction. No matter how silly it seems in that dark and quiet room when you're shouting “whoo-hoo-hoo-hoo,” do it! How badly do you want what you want? Chances are you want it bad enough to feel a little silly, to get a little “stupid” in the dark quiet privacy of your own home when you're visualizing.

Emotion is truly the turbo-charger of change; it’s as if our emotions supercharge the thoughts associated with them and that extra charge gives them power over your other competing (or sometimes contradictory) thoughts, drawing circumstances into your path that facilitate your big dream’s manifestation. I tell anybody who wants to bring about major life changes that they should begin with a visualization program; however, I tell anyone who wants to bring about major life changes quickly to visualize with emotion.

I’m actually told by many audience members that they aren’t able to imagine details. They tell me their mind doesn’t go there and they even wonder what it is everyone else is seeing. If this is you, perhaps you’re even at an advantage because the most important thing anyone can put in their mental imagery are not the physical details, but the emotional ones. Drop all of the physical details, and just feel the joy, which truly cuts to the chase, bypassing all cursed hows, giving the Universe maximum latitude to work out the details that will bring that smile to your face, the way you put it out there when you visualized.

5. Put yourself in the picture.
You’ve got to be there, in the picture, if you want your manifestation to include you. For example, let’s just say one of the details you’re visualizing is a new car. Right before you close your eyes, look at the back of your hands. Your hands are different than anybody else's: your fingers, finger nails, the hairs, wrinkles, and even the rings you wear are unique. Visualize your hands in your mind’s eye wrapping around the steering wheel of whatever it is that you most want to be driving.

This was confirmed beyond doubt by someone who wrote me saying, “Mike, I'm having trouble visualizing. I want that new Volkswagen Beetle, retro-design, sapphire blue!” And of course I replied to her that this is not asking the Universe for too much; you know, there are a lot of those out there, you can have it, visualizing shouldn't be hard. "Mike, you don't understand. I was recently involved in a traffic accident…” Unh-oh, I thought. “I was rear-ended…by a sapphire blue, retro-design Volkswagen Beetle." Ah-ha! "And, Mike, that's just the half it…this morning…” (I could almost hear her crying between the words) “I watched my neighbor drive to work in her brand new, sapphire blue, retro-design Volkswagen Beetle!"

The moral of this story? Put yourself in the picture. And for that matter, while we’re at it, include happy, smiling pictures of yourself on your vision board and scrap book! Feel your toes in the sand at the beach, or feel your hand in the palm of another as you walk together on a moonlit night. Smell the aromas of the scene you’re imagining, perhaps the salt in the air or the smoke from the fireplace. And of course, again, feel the joy. Emotions are powerful for yet another reason, as they automatically put you in the picture.

6. Dwell from the end results—or beyond.
This is just one more way to say what I’ve already said many times: do not mess with the cursed hows. When visualizing go to the finished, completed picture—your dream already come true. Do not visualize how it will come true! The cursed hows are the banes of our primitive existence. Yet we've all been told since we could crawl that we should mess with the hows, that we’re irresponsible and reckless if we don’t. The truth of the matter, however, is that messing with the hows is what slows us down, tying the hands of the Universe and leading us to think that we must carry the weight of the world upon our shoulders.

Incidentally, should you be wondering how it’s possible to take action while not messing with the cursed hows, that is addressed specifically in chapter four. For now, we’re talking about visualizing, and when you do this don’t even think about thinking about anything else.


This article was excerpted from my New York Times Bestselling Book, Infinite Possibilities: The Art of Living Your Dreams.

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Mike Dooley

Mike Dooley is a former PriceWaterhouseCoopers international tax consultant, turned entrepreneur, who's founded a philosophical Adventurers Club on the internet that's now home to over 600,000 members from over 182 countries. His inspirational books emphasizing spiritual accountability have been published in 25 languages and he was one of the featured teachers in the international phenomenon, The Secret. Today Mike is best known for his free Notes from the Universe e-mailings and his New York Times bestsellers Infinite Possibilities: The Art of Living Your Dreams and Leveraging the Universe: 7 Steps to Engaging Life's Magic. Mike lives what he teaches, traveling internationally speaking on life, dreams, and happiness.

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