Richard Wiseman's "59 Seconds" is an excellent book that I thoroughly recommend. Interesting, amusing, authoritative, useful and easy to read - it fulfils pretty much all of my requirements for great non-fiction.

Over the years, I've used a lot of the methods and approaches discussed in it, and as a practitioner it's really handy to have a book that references so much of the research that supports their veracity, especially for the benefit of clients who like/need external verification that something works.

The best bits though, are some of Richard's simple processes and techniques, that can be used in "59 seconds or less" to make a real and rapid difference for people. I've tried some of them out on myself and others, and can confidently report that they are very effective, not least because they are straightforward and quick to use. One of my favourites is that in praising your children, praising effort, rather than achievement, is much more beneficial over time and supports them in being far more resilient. My six year old daughter is now part of my own research programme on this one!

There is one area though in which I have a question for Richard (or anyone else that can tell me, please).

In the chapter on Motivation, he talks about visualisation, although "fantasising" is the (slightly loaded?) term he uses, and tells us that "a large body of research now suggests .... the technique is, at best, ineffective." Now, I completely agree that fantasising (as in, "If I can just imagine what I want hard enough then I'll get it") isn't very reliable in producing results - otherwise I would already have won the lottery several times! As my friend Jamie Smart says "If The Secret's so great, where's my Ferrari?"

I also entirely agree with Richard's point that having a clear plan and following it is what causes success in almost any endeavour.

What I'd like to know is, has any formal research been done into the use of visualisation in combination with a well structured plan? This is something I use a lot myself and with my clients to very good effect. Creating, clear structured plans and then using visualisation focussed on the steps in the plan produces markedly improved results in my opinion. Apart from anything else, it is extremely useful in helping to identify some of the obstacles that may appear on the way.

There is also a huge amount of (at least, anecdotal) evidence of visualisation being used extensively and effectively by the world's top sports people. Co-creator of NLP Richard Bandler for instance, tells of working with a sprinter whose performance was dramatically improved simply by altering his pre-race visualisation to include seeing himself breaking the finish tape first. (btw, I suspect Tiger Woods might make a distinction between visualising and fantasising!)  😉

I'm very interested in collecting information about this area, so please comment with your experiences of using visualisation in combination with structured plans and/or details of any formal research that you know of that has been carried out.

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