Olympic athletes spend an enormous amount of time training for their events.
But, according to Ellen Rogin and Lisa Kueng, authors of Picture Your Prosperity: Smart Money Moves to Turn Your Vision into Reality, it’s not just the physical training that leads to success.
It’s the mental training, too.
It turns out that the athletes who picture themselves crossing the finish line first are more likely to do it.
Rogin and Kueng refer to this technique as “visualization,” and they say its effectiveness has been proven by Russian scientists who conducted a study comparing the training schedules of four groups of Olympic athletes.
Each group used a different combination of physical and mental training:
- Group one: 100 percent physical training
- Group two: 75 percent physical training, 25 percent mental training
- Group three: 50 percent physical training, 50 percent mental training
- Group four: 25 percent physical training, 75 percent mental training
The scientists found that the fourth group performed the best during the Olympics.
“This has been such an important finding that the U.S. Olympic Committee now has increased the number of full-time psychologists on staff from just one to six over the last 20 years,” Rogin and Kueng say.
What makes visualization such a powerful technique for success?
Rogin and Kueng cite research by Srinivasan Pillay, a Harvard M.D. and author of Your Brain and Business: The Neuroscience of Great Leaders, to explain how visualization works.
“We stimulate the same brain regions when we visualize an action as we do when we actually perform that same action,” Pillay says.
Rogin and Kueng describe this as a sort of conditioning for your brain. They suggest first establishing a goal, then visualizing achieving that goal in detail, and focusing on it over the long term.
“These simple techniques help your brain know what to look out for,” the authors say. “Without the conditioning, critical information that can help you achieve your goals might remain background noise.”
This was originally published on Business Insider.