Guest Post: The Power of Visualization

6 08 2009

Your Friday inspiration & guest blog post by Samantha Chui (with a little note from me at the end!).

Find What You Love, and Do It!

I’m sure you hear this all the time, that’s probably because it’s true. Find what you love, and do it!

Now that certainly isn’t the tune that my parents were singing as I was growing up. Coming from a fairly traditional Asian household, the motto was, “Find something financially secure and socially acceptable, and do it! Now, eat your rice!” Like many others, I bought into this and now as a 26yr old-busy-yuppie-financially secure-somewhat socially acceptable-software engineer, I am thinking again about what I want to do with my life. Is there something more that I could be doing?

When Randy Pausch gave his Last Lecture at Carnegie Mellon in 2007, his audience was blown away by the beauty of his message. Titled “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” his hour-long presentation told the ways he achieved his dreams and then through his work as a professor how he enabled the dreams of others. If you haven’t seen his lecture, for godsake stop reading this and watch it below! Diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer, Randy spent the last months of his life undergoing treatment and pondering what message to leave his children with. The lecture he gave at his university to former students and colleagues was the culmination of all those thoughts, and by sharing it he left a larger legacy than any letter he could have given to his children in private.

Randy’s dreams were to:

  • Be in zero gravity
  • Play in the NFL
  • Author an article in the World Book encyclopedia
  • Be Captain Kirk
  • Win stuffed animals
  • Be a Disney Imagineer

And he achieved them all! (or at least variations on them…being Captain Kirk is hard.)

That got me thinking. What are my dreams? And can I really do them?

One weekend, I sat down and wrote all my dreams on post-it notes and stuck them to my wall. Anyone’s who’s been to my apartment is familiar with this peculiar fixture. Over the past year or so I’ve been crossing items off and adding new ones. Because even though Randy talks about childhood dreams, my dreams are always changing. And hell yeah, I’m serious about doing them. (My mom’s been trying to dissuade me by giving me books about disasters on Mt. Everest. Which of course only makes me want to go more!)


Let’s look at that list above.

Buy goldfish. Fish are more fun with friends! I bought a fishtank and 5 goldfish, and set it up in my cubicle at work. Turns out, people love fish! We’ve had some mishaps (rest-in-peace carl 1, 2, and 3), but now that fishtank is a community tank, and a literal watering hole.

Go to grad school. Not quite grad school, but I completed my certificate in project and program management through UCSC extension, paid for by my company!

Get braces. I’ve wanted them forever and raved about them to anyone who would care to listen. Now I feel like I’ve started a movement. C’mon, what are the chances of having 3 out of 20 employees getting braces at the same time?

Climb Mount Everest. Amazingly, I’m not the only one who is into insane hikes. Half Dome completed (8,836ft) three times, tons more to go: Everest (29,029ft)

Each person has different dreams that they set out for themselves and no matter how many people deter you or how many other things get in the way, staying positive, visualizing your goals, and keeping them in constant view really helps you achieve those dreams.

So find what you love, post it up, and go do it!

Stefanie’s commentary:

It’s hard to spend time living your dreams when you are burdened with heaviness of being unemployed.  I get that.  But what’s really amazing about Samantha’s story is her positive attitude.  When I first saw Samantha’s wall of post-its, I thought, “Wow, what a powerful tool for keeping your goals present and visible at all times.”  It almost creates a sense of accountability to yourself.  What was more amazing is when I looked at her wall, she had already done half of the things she had set out to do earlier in the year.  (I made her take off a bunch of them!  She didn’t even realize that she had set those goals out for herself back then!)

There’s definitely something to be said about the power of visualization.  Before a gymnastics meet, you might see a gymnast close her eyes and just breathe.  What she’s also doing is visualizing her routines, her every step and her ability to adapt to things that might happen.  She does all this before she even takes her first step onto the floor and it keeps her focused when she enters the task.  And guess what?  She nails it.  Why?  Because she already saw herself doing it.

My point is: Interviews, resumes, finding a job  can be extremely overwhelming, but rather than lose your head, close your eyes, take a deep breath and visualize the things you have practiced and the things you know so well.  Visualize your goals, keep them present and visible, and, before you know it, you’ll be knockin off post-its like Sami!