Elance Blog

How to Use Visualization to Achieve Your Freelance Goals

Whether your end goal is to make the switch from full-time to freelance, increasing the number of clients you're working with, or anything in between, visualizing your success is oftentimes one of the best first steps to take. But what's the best way to visualize? Ed Gandia, co-founder of the International Freelancers Day (Miss it? Check out the free replays here), shares his tips on visualizing your goals for maximum success.

If you’ve read any literature on success over the last decade or two, you probably already know the importance of visualization in goal attainment. Visualizing yourself as already having accomplished your goal is critical to attaining what you want.

This has always made sense to me. But I’ve often found it difficult to visualize my goals, especially those that seem far-fetched.

That is until recently, when I discovered a simple strategy that changed the way I practice visualization.

Whether you’re considering a full-time freelance career or you’re already freelancing and looking for ways to grow your income significantly, this new approach will help you reach your goal much faster.

Outcome Visualization

Here’s the deal. Traditional forms of visualization require you to focus on the outcome you desire. So if you moonlight as a freelancer and want to grow your business to a point where you can quit your day job, you should visualize what it would be like to be a full-time freelancer.

You might picture yourself working out of your comfortable home office, sipping your morning coffee at your desk and working on enjoyable, lucrative projects throughout the week... while your colleagues continue to deal with a horrible commute, childish office politics and the constant fear of being laid off.

But here’s the trouble with this approach: Depending on how far along you are on the path to freelance freedom, this mental picture may not “feel” realistic.

Maybe you’re just now starting to look for part-time freelance work. Or maybe you’ve landed some work on the side but the journey to doing this on a full-time basis seems so long and treacherous, you have deep-seated doubts as to whether it will ever happen.

Believe me, I’ve been there — many times, in fact. It’s hard to develop the belief and faith necessary to make visualization work. And repeating visualization exercises every day, while helpful, may not always yield the gradual wins you need to stay motivated.

A New Approach: Process Visualization

So that’s why I got very excited when I recently came across a different approach to visualization — one that may very well help you get over that hump, whatever it may be. This approach is called “process visualization.”

In the book Career Renegade (which I highly recommend, by the way), Jonathan Fields cites a number of eye-opening studies that demonstrate the power of process visualization.

In one of these studies, 84 college students were divided into 3 groups. The first group was asked to spend 5 minutes each day visualizing the actions and steps needed to complete a specific project (the process). The second group was asked to visualize having successfully completed the project (the outcome). The third group was the control group, so it did neither.

Here’s what happened. The students who visualized themselves as having successfully completed the project were significantly more likely than the control group to complete it on time.

But the students who visualized the steps needed to complete the project were even more likely than the other two groups to (a) finish on time and (b) consider the assignment easy to accomplish.

How to Apply It

Based on Fields’ suggestions, here’s how I recommend you use this knowledge to help you achieve your goals.

If one of your goals currently seems insurmountable (maybe it’s a big goal, such as leaving your full-time job for a full-time freelance career) and you’re just now getting started, begin with process visualization and forget about “outcome” exercises for now.

Visualize yourself working on the key steps needed to get to your big goal. Picture yourself taking the necessary courses, working on writing the copy for your website, refining your niche and key messages, going after fun and rewarding projects, following up with prospects, and so on.

Once you’ve started working on these activities and completed some key milestones, it’s time to add outcome visualization to the mix. That means doing things such as meditating, creating a vision board and practicing other daily visualization exercises.

Now, for those of you who are already well on your way to your goal, Fields suggests that you practice both outcome AND process visualization. The combination of these approaches will go a long way toward cultivating the mindset needed to achieve all your worthwhile goals.

Visualization is arguably more important today than ever before. The negative energy coming from the news media, many of our colleagues, and even friends and family can be stifling. That’s why you need to combat this negativity by adding process visualization to your daily routine.

Do you have a story about how you’ve used this approach to realize your goals and dreams? If so, I’d love to hear from you in the comments area below!

About the Author:
Ed Gandia is co-founder of International Freelancers Day, the biggest-ever free online conference for solo professionals, which was held last month. Through October 31, you can access all of the 24 presentation replays absolutely free by visiting www.InternationalFreelancersDay.com/replays/


Using a dream board or a vision map definitely works! I was living in London for years which was great but wanted to come back home to the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. One of my pictures on my board was of Mount Maunganui, a lovely part of the bay, an inspiring mountain and a really popular surf beach. There were other images on there, such as family and yoga etc and low and behold I am now here!
The weird thing is I now work in the Mount which still freaks me out to go for a quick 2 minute drive to walk along the beach in my lunch hour! When I see my kids play in the surf squeeling with delight I am so thankful for holding onto my dream, knowing one day they will probably travel and end up in London but then I will have a place to stay when I travel (not sure they know that yet!)
I have been dreaming of leaving my day job to go full time freelance writer so it looks as if I needed reminding just how important a vision board is, now pass the cardboard and the magazines - it's time to get to work ...