When I write, I can dream intentionally.
~Haruki Murakami, in Treisman, 2019
If you want to bring about a change in yourself or your life, you might be surprised to hear that defining goals and shaping a plan might not be your first step! There’s an important step that comes before that one.
That step is writing to create a clear visualization of your future self and life. A detailed, realistic and positive visualization contributes to hope by motivating your determination and commitment. It also spurs the development of an achievable plan and the flexibility to adapt it if necessary.
Affirmative Writing Visualization
Affirmative Writing Visualization allows us to dream of ourselves as we wish to be. We affirm a vision for ourselves and our lives. That vision, when realistic, clearly described, and based on our true selves can help us bring about the changes we want to make.
Our true self emerges from our core values and expresses our strengths and talents.
Core values are those things we hold most dear, that matter most to us, and that serve to guide our life choices. If you’re uncertain what your core values are, try writing 3-5 “I believe _________ “ statements.
Strengths and talents are those innate or well-learned abilities that, when used or shared, are gifts we bring to ourselves and to others. Using these gifts brings us deep joy and satisfaction. Sharing our gifts where they are most needed allows us to make positive contributions that connect us others, our community and the world around us.
To identify your strengths and talents, make a list of the things others turn to you for, or ask friends and colleagues what they see as your strengths and talents.
How Affirmative Visualization Works
…goals involving hope fall somewhere between an impossibility and a sure thing.
~C.R. Snyder, The Psychology of Hope, p. 6
Reaching a desired future doesn’t happen by visualization alone. The power of a clearly visualized, realistic, and attainable future strengthens our capacity to hope, which is needed to sustain our successful efforts.The more clarity we bring to our vision, the more likely that we’ll achieve it.
High hope, defined as a combination of willpower (determination and commitment) and waypower (adaptability in the face of challenges), enables us to reach our realistic and optimistic vision for our lives (Snyder, 1994).
Write An Affirmative Visualization of Your Future
Picture yourself 6-12 months from now, living in the way you most want to live, and being the person you most want to be. What has changed from how things are right now?
Write a paragraph, or if you like, create a narrative telling the story of how you move through your days.
Write in the first person, present tense, saying “I am” rather than “I will.” Use positive, realistic, encouraging language. This writing is for you. No one else is going to see it, unless you decide to share it*, so express yourself openly, honestly and freely. Use these prompts to guide your writing.
• What are you doing, saying, thinking and feeling?
• Where are you living and working?
• What do you do throughout the course of the day?
• Describe your face. How does it reflect your state of mind?
• What is your mood, and how does it influence your self-talk?
• Describe your diet, sleep and your regular or new self-care routines.
• What are you doing now that you didn’t used to do? What are you continuing to do?
• Who are you spending time with? What are your interactions with them like?
Spend up to 20 minutes on this writing. You can spend more time if you like, but it can get tiring. In that case, take a break and return to it when you’re ready.
*I suggest keeping your writing private. Use your best judgment in deciding whether it would be beneficial or harmful to share your writing with others.
More Affirmative Writing, and Five Other Forms of Writing — Join Me for Transform Your Health: Write to Heal.
I invite you to join me for the my first online offering of Transform Your Health: Write to Heal, and discover the power of writing alone while in the supportive company of others. This carefully designed, 6-week progression of writing forms, including Affirmative Writing, supports healing and forward movement from traumatic or disruptive life experiences. I’m purposely keeping the group size small, to allow time for discussion. Reserve your spot now to take advantage of a great, special introductory rate!
Evans, J. & Jooste, K. (2014). Leading others in writing for health: A handbook for professionals. Unpublished.
Snyder, C.R. (1994). The psychology of hope. You can get there from here. New York, NY: The Free Press.
Treisman, D. (2019). The Underground Worlds of Haruki Murakami https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-new-yorker-interview/the-underground-worlds-of-haruki-murakami