Reach your goals by creating memories of the future.


You have probably heard of athletes who make mental images of how they perform on their top level during an important competition, win that particular gold medal or see their dream score beside their own name on the board. They do this to make their body and mind add an extra power to their normal training to reach the goals. But is it magic or how can it work?

It’s all about chemistry in the brain. All your memories or past experiences are thoughts connected to emotions. Let’s say that you gave a short speech in school and some of your class mates were laughing or even saying something mean. This made you feel very humiliated, angry, sad or frightened. So the memory of giving a speech is then chemically connected to a negative emotion in your brain. You might never again want to stand up in front of an audience. Fifteen years later your boss asks you to give a presentation of the project you are working on next month. You are suddenly attacked by a strong negative emotion and you almost panic. You might have forgotten that day in school fifteen years ago, but your mind and body has not. These bad connections happen every day and in fact they are the foundation of how we perceive and react to our daily life.

But you can use this to your advantage. You can actually choose to create new connections, which suite you better. Since we think about 50.000 thoughts every day, and most of them are negative, it might not be an easy task to change them all into positive thoughts, but you can start with the ones that are stopping your form reaching your goals or feel happy about certain situations. The trick is to fool your brain to believe that your created memory of a future situation is actually something that already happened. That way the brain – and your body and mind – knows that you can perform that good, because you have already done it!

The key here is that when you are in a very relaxed mood, in trance or dreaming, your brain can not tell the reality and the imagination apart. When you dream you have no control of the thoughts, but in deep relaxation you can be very focused and creative!

So you want to be able to hold that speech next month? You don’t want to panic and you don’t want to make a fool of yourself. Since “not” is lost by the brain (how can you imagine something that is not?), you have to turn your goal into something positive. Let’s say you want to feel calm and focused before and during the speech and confident and happy after it’s done. Now you are going to imagine this moment like a piece of a film about our life. You are going to look at this part of the film showing your future memory as if it was happening now. What do you see and hear in this film that proves to you that you are calm and focused and doing good? Maybe you first see a part of the film showing you looking at the audience, seeing friendly, happy faces. A college might ask you how you are and you hear yourself answering that you are actually feeling very calm and excited. Now comes the most important thing! You have to connect this scene to a good feeling. So you let yourself feel how calm and happy you are. Is that feeling in your stomach or in your chest? Take time to notice. Enjoy the moment! Now you might forward the movie and take a look at the part after the speech is done. You see how the audience is applauding. You hear your boss say that this was a very good presentation and you feel an enormous joy in your body. You are so proud that you managed to stay that calm, focused and that the presentation turned out so good.

Unfortunately you don’t change that old feeling from the memory in school that quick! Research says that your brain needs about 21 days to change a connection or a habit. But you have one month to go! So every evening and every morning, when you are lying in bed, you do your best to relax and put yourself in a positive mode and then you close your eyes and look at your film! Don’t forget the positive feeling in your body.

Does it work? Well, that’s how I met my husband, dared to make a speech and finally found a training that I liked – all in one month! That was 20 years ago and my old notebook by my bed is filled with notes on what I see, hear and feel for three new goals every month. Most of them fulfilled.

2 thoughts on “Reach your goals by creating memories of the future.

  1. Jörgen Thein 31 May, 2016 / 16:09

    When I was practicing golf many years ago my golf pro asked me “do you feel, hear or see your perfect shot?”. This specific question has helped me during my life since I always visually see the wanted situation in from of me. It can be establish a new company as I did in Turkey. That time I visualized the first order, the new warehouse and my future colleagues. The final result? Very good! To visualize the wanted future situation is a very strong metaphor for me and I feel total confident in my visualization of the future targets.


  2. Izabela 1 June, 2016 / 14:35

    Positive outcome reminded me of my feeling as parent on playground when my son is hanging from the top of the metal bar – at first moment I feel stressed and just think of all possible negative scenarios and then one day I decided to change attitude, visualize and encourage my thoughts to see positive outcome and that my son is pretty capable to handle himself…off course the outcome also was positive. I can say that I find visualizations very useful and what I’m applying in my everyday life , but what I find most difficult is how to keep this internal motivation to accept change and that you are now on path to reach your goals?


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