visualizationWe introduce our career coaching clients to the concept of “Dreaming First” early in our relationship. This is the initiation into their career change before they start making a plan for their career transitions.

When it’s actually time to lay the groundwork for achieving a goal, we usually start with a plan for making it happen that includes practical steps along the way, but things invariably work out even better when they begin with a vision of exactly how they want things to progress before going on to the more concrete practical side.

Why dream first? Why turn to the fanciful side of your brain when everyone keeps telling you that a practical plan is the key to success? Because it works. While a practical plan is one of the strongest keys to success, the best-laid plans always start with the dream—a dream that you can trim and shape later to fit your real-life situation.

One way to dream BIG is to use the technique of visualization. Successful people have used this technique for a very long time. Professional athletes do it; opera singers do it; and just about anyone seriously looking to enhance performance does it. Australian psychologist Alan Richardson performed an experiment published in Research Quarterly which found that athletes who visualized every day for 20 days, enhanced their performance by 23 percent. Richardson reported that the most effective visualization occurs when the visualizer both feels and sees what he is doing.

You can do the same thing: envision how you want your career transition to unfold, visualize the pieces you want to have in place to make it happen and “see” all the players you need to support you along the way. When you develop your vision first, you will not only become clearer about what you want to happen, you will also be more likely to make it happen in the way you’ve envisioned it, and there- fore be successful.

Dreaming First is especially important because jumping into the practical side of your career transition too soon can squash your creative thinking. If you dream first and allow yourself to think out of the box, you may start to imagine multiple ways you could succeed.

Hallie Crawford is a certified career coach and founder of HallieCrawford.com. Her team of coaches helps people find their dream job and make it a reality. She is regularly featured as an expert in the media including the Wall Street Journal, CNN, and US News & World Report. Visit her website at www.HallieCrawford.com for more information about her teams career coaching services and to sign up for a complimentary consultation.