"Imagination is more important than knowledge” — Albert Einstein
Observe a group of young children for any length of time and you will see something happening that’s rare in adult life: imagination. Think about it. When was the last time you actively imagined?
When we grow up, imagination is something left to the creative class. Not busy professionals. Not mothers.
With only a few people allowed to practice being creative without judgment, is it possible we’re letting go of a part of us that defines our humanity?
Carl Jung, the renowned 20th-century psychotherapist, once remarked, “All the works of humans have their origin in creative fantasy.” You need only to peruse the drawings of Leonardo DaVinci’s flying machines to confirm his belief.
Artists and writers don’t own the rights to the imagination. Had Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, industrial designer, and engineer respectively, not come together to dream in a garage in Silicon Valley, this essay may have been written on something entirely different.
Imagination begets reality.
Believe it. It motivates you the same way seeing an advertisement for Fiji compels you to look up flights and maybe even book them. As the creative director of your imagination, however, anything — not just Fiji — is possible.
But if you aren’t making progress on your dreams, then what gives? Maybe you haven’t imagined what it would be like to actually achieve them.
Here’s a tip: Basketball players use an unusual technique off the court to ensure a successful game on the court. They don’t just practice making free throws, they visualize themselves making them.
In other words, they imagine themselves doing it. If this technique sounds strange to you, it’s backed by data. The University of Chicago (the town of baseball great Michael Jordan) conducted a study showing how visualizing free throws is nearly as effective as practicing.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you don’t need to lift a finger to experience success. But it does suggest that imagination is a powerful tool to use — along with preparation and work — to craft your dreams.
This technique isn’t just used by athletes. Parents unintentionally do it with their newborns, singers do it before performances, and many people (myself included) do it as a practice to start their day. You can, too.
Want to tune into your imagination? Try one of these practices!
Before you leave your bed, take a few minutes to imagine the course of your day. Stay open and fluid. Focus more on your feelings versus expectations, e.g., “I feel good as I take my first sip of tea, coffee, water, etc.” Run through the day until you return to bed. Maybe it sounds like this: “As I get into bed and pull the covers over me I feel a sense of peace.” Or, “When I return to bed, I am grateful for all that I have experienced in my day.” Try this for a week and see how your imagination aligns with your reality.
Before closing your eyes. Ask yourself what you would like to be experienced on September 20, 2020. I know. Neither of us has a crystal ball, so have fun with it! Perhaps it’s reviewing a boon of new client contracts, the itinerary for a well-deserved getaway, or the feeling of waking up stress-free and focused on whatever the day has to offer. It’s a Sunday by the way!
While your eyes are closed, imagine how it will feel doing whatever you’ve chosen. What is the weather like outside? Or maybe a particular song comes to mind. What colors do you see? What about smells? Textures? When you open your eyes, grab a pen. If you journal or have a place where you keep notes in a planner, write down everything you imagined. Then, on September 20, read what you wrote and see how close what you imagined is your reality. Are you surprised?