5: Imagining What’s Possible

Pretend you have a crystal ball and can time travel to whenever you want in the future. Whether it’s six months, one year, or 10 years from now, what would be possible if a habit that’s currently holding you back was no longer a major player in your life? 

This week, I’m inviting you to imagine and visualize a future where your well-practiced habits are radically changed. Most of us get in a routine of not spending enough time thinking about what could be possible if we made a change. We fear the disappointment of not making it to our desired outcome and our brains are constantly questioning the process, but there’s so much power in intentionally imagining something new, and I’m showing you how. 

Tune in this week as I show you why the skill of imagining what’s possible is so transformational. You’ll discover what happens when you take the time to purposefully connect with your imagination, the ripple effect it’ll have in all areas of your life, and three ways you can begin applying and practicing this work. 

Habits on Purpose with Kristi Angevine | Imagining What's Possible

Pretend you have a crystal ball and can time travel to whenever you want in the future. Whether it’s six months, one year, or 10 years from now, what would be possible if a habit that’s currently holding you back was no longer a major player in your life?

Habits on Purpose with Kristi Angevine | Imagining What's Possible

This week, I’m inviting you to imagine and visualize a future where your well-practiced habits are radically changed. Most of us get in a routine of not spending enough time thinking about what could be possible if we made a change. We fear the disappointment of not making it to our desired outcome and our brains are constantly questioning the process, but there’s so much power in intentionally imagining something new, and I’m showing you how.

Tune in this week as I show you why the skill of imagining what’s possible is so transformational. You’ll discover what happens when you take the time to purposefully connect with your imagination, the ripple effect it’ll have in all areas of your life, and three ways you can begin applying and practicing this work.

If you like what you’re hearing and think others would benefit from listening in, please take a few minutes to rate and review the podcast! To thank you, I’m giving away five Day Designer planners and Audible gift cards to listeners who follow, rate, and review the show. For details on how to win, click here!

What you'll learn from this episode:

  • Why imagining what’s possible when you change a habit is so useful. 
  • The downstream impact of changing two common habits.
  • Why you might find the act of imagining what’s possible challenging. 
  • 3 things that get reinforced when we imagine what’s possible.
  • How to start visualizing and imagining the possibility of your habits being changed.
  • What happens when you take the time to connect with your imagination. 
  • 3 ways you can apply this work. 

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Full Episode Transcript:

I'm Kristi Angevine, and you're listening to episode five. This episode is all about possibilities and the power of using your imagination. Today we'll tap into your imagination and explore what's possible when you change your habits.

Welcome to Habits On Purpose, a podcast for high-achieving women who want to create lifelong habits and feel as good on the inside as they look on paper. You'll get practical strategies for mindset shifts that will help you finally understand the root causes of why you think, feel, and act as you do so you can learn to create habits that give more than they take, and now, here's your host physician and certified life coach Kristi Angevine.

Hello everyone, before we dive into the topic at hand in today's episode. I want to share a little backstory for context. When I was launching this podcast, I spent some time thinking about what I wanted my relationship with social media to be like? It's really important to me to be intentional with my social media use. I see what a great tool it is for connection, and I find some great pleasure in using it, and yet, I also see how it can be a total time suck.

How I'm another data point for advertisers, and how it can easily be a form of numbing and escapism, and where I ultimately landed when I was contemplating this was that even though the last time I had posted live on Instagram was about five years ago. I decided to revive that account, and in doing so, I was actually able to come across a really moving quote that I totally loved. It was a quote from Brig Johnson that said what would happen if we stopped looking outside ourselves to be secure and emphatically decide to root for our damn selves.

Now, if you're not familiar with Brig Johnson, she is a CRNA, a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist turned mindset expert who coaches high achieving black women, and you can find her link in the show notes. Now, I've been thinking about what I wanted episode five to be about, and when I saw that quote, everything just clicked. So, in this episode, we're going to explore the benefit of imagining what's possible for you when you change a habit.

Now, Brig's specific question about stopping the habit of looking outside in order to feel secure and deciding to create the feeling of security from the inside out is so powerful in its own right. But what we're going to do today is take a step back and explore what comes up when you deliberately consider the downstream impact of changing one of your habits. We'll do this by looking at two common habits and then talk about why imaging what's possible when you change a habit is such a useful tool.

By the end, my hope is that I've sold you on how massively powerful your thoughts are, and as always, to keep things really concrete and practical, I'm going to leave you with three ways you can apply this work over the course of the week. So, this entire episode is one big invitation for you to tap into your imagination and consider what might be possible when you change a habit. The cliff notes version is for you to answer for yourself this question, what happens when you change some of your most deeply entrenched mindsets and habits?

Now, before you roll your eyes and think, this is going to be some cheesy, sappy commentary that advises you to sit on your meditation cushion and daydream and manifest your dreams with positive thinking. Or find the silver lining or, god forbid, chant positive affirmations, like Stuart Smalley. Let me assure you that is not what this is about. My take is that the most effective teachings are inspirational but are also practical and grounded in reality.

So, let's jump in. In a previous episode, I used the metaphor of zooming in and panning out on Google Earth to describe the technique of observing your own mind, emotions, and behaviors. Today instead of looking to get that kind of perspective, the focus is going to be on time. We're going for pretending we have a crystal ball that shows us the future. I want you to imagine you could move forward in time to whenever, six months, one year, ten years, whatever duration of time you want to use to imagine, and I want you to think what would be possible if a habit you have today were radically changed?

Let's take two common habits I see in my clients, and I'm also personally very familiar with, second-guessing and harsh self-talk. Let's start with second-guessing. Now, second-guessing, as I mean it here, is the act of repetitively questioning one's self, ruminating on a decision, usually in a very unfavorable or critical way. I don't mean second-guessing as simply brainstorming options and alternatives.

So, consider for a moment, what would be the impact if you stopped ruthlessly second-guessing, and you put all that mental and emotional energy toward something else? What could you achieve if you made quicker decisions or weren't hesitant to mess up along the way to a goal? How would your day-to-day experience be different if you weren't always second-guessing everything you did?

What would change in how you interact with others if you no longer spent so much time mentally picking apart your every move? Imagine the self-trust that might come. Imagine feeling in tune with your intuition and how that might alter your experience at, let's say, your workplace? Imagine how grounded or confident you might feel, and imagine what you'd be modeling for others.

Now, let's take harsh, negative self-talk, imagine this habit is gone or even just greatly reduced. No more believing your brain when it offers you shit like I can't do anything right. What's my problem? I'm an idiot. I'm so lame. I'm not cut out for this. Imagine that the mental news ticker in your mind is free of nitpicking, be it about your appearance, exercise routine, performance at work, or whatever. Or imagine if the nitpicking does arise, you notice it, but you don't automatically believe it.

You know those magazines that have two side-by-side pictures, and you're supposed to look and find the differences between the two pictures, and once you see that out-of-place thing, you just can't unsee it. Imagine that the mental nitpicking is like that. You see it, but you know that it doesn't belong, and you're more like, huh? That's interesting, brain. At one point in time, I believed that commentary without hesitation, but not today.

Imagine what it would be like if your self-talk were kind, warm, friendly, like what you would have for a dear friend or your partner or your kids or your pets, picture the aftermath of something not going as you wanted and having a soft landing spot with compassion from yourself. What kind of bold goals would you go for if you knew that on the other side of the challenges, you'd have your own back? What would be possible in your life with your self-concept, work, relationships, and how would you feel?

Now, perhaps second-guessing or harsh self-talk isn't a prominent habit for you, and if so, I want you to pick a habit that you would love to change. Maybe it's scrolling on your phone, compulsive shopping for vacation homes that you don't need, or, as one of the people in the Facebook groups said, shopping as entertainment? Maybe it's emotional eating, people-pleasing, over-extending, overworking, maybe it's mom guilt seeking external validation, taking responsibility for other people's emotions.

You pick the habit. Imagine it solved. Imagine it's no longer a major player in your life. Think of your life one year from now. With that habit solved, what else would you do with your time? What would you do with your energy? What would change with how you experience work? What might be different at home with your partner or your kids? Think about what would be possible when it comes to how you would be thinking of yourself.

And with that habit solved, what would it be like for you in five years or ten years? And once you have your answers, keep going, and ask yourself what else would be possible? And ask yourself why would these changes be so important? Go to that place in your mind and really visualize that reality and tune in to how you think it would feel. So, as you're doing this, how do you feel right now as you imagine this future possibility? Keep this feeling in mind, and we're going to circle back to it here in just a few moments.

Now, I'm compelled to offer you two important caveats here. For some of you, this exercise of imagining what's possible is going to come very easily, but for others of you, focusing on a future that's very positive and this creative act of imagining something new and something good will not be so easy, and that is totally okay. Sometimes when it comes to envisioning a bright future, we reflexively think that we might feel disappointed if we don't get it. And we get in a routine of not spending time thinking about what could be possible if we made a change, or other times we just forget to dream.

This is not uncommon at all. Now, some of you may have heard of the adventures of Jedidiah Jenkins. If you haven't, I'll link his book and the short video I'm going to refer to in the show notes. Basically, right around the time that Jedidiah was about to turn 30, he got scared that his life was going to become one that he did not want. So, he quit his dream job, and he left the town of Florence, Oregon, on his bicycle and rode for 16 months down through the United States, through Central America, through South America, to Patagonia, alone.

The memoir of that adventure is in his book To Shape The Sleeping Self, and there's a video that's called The Thousand-Year Journey, and it's about four minutes long. The reason I mention it is because, in that video, he says this really powerful quote. He says routine is the enemy of time. It makes it fly by, and for some of us, we get into a routine of going to work, making money, making dinner, raising kids, doing laundry, making it to the weekend, starting all over again, and in a routine, we may lose sight of what matters most.

In a routine, we may forget that we can dream. It's almost like there's a hypnotizing routine, and we don't even notice that we've lost sight of what matters. So, all of this is to say for the purposes of what we're talking about in this episode, if this act of imagining what would be possible isn't easy for you, you are not alone. And it's not a sign of anything gone wrong. It's just something for you to be curious about for yourself.

You may, in fact, be better at imaging the worst-case scenarios, and in a future episode, we're going to talk exactly about having a penchant for the pessimistic is actually a strength that you can leverage. For today, if you can imagine the worst, you can also imagine the best, and you can also imagine what could be possible when you change a habit. Think about it, like, do you ever do this?

I can be on a hike, and I can go from imagining tripping over a root or a rock to vividly imagining having some gruesome injury not being able to get ahold of help, possibly causing harm to the other people who are trying to help me, having insane medical bills, my family suffering financial and emotional turmoil, selling all of our possessions because we need to survive. Then, our sweet family unit disintegrates into some dark, sorted affair. And I can imagine that in about 3-5 seconds. I know some of you are nodding because you can relate, and probably others of you are more like my husband and thinking, huh, that sounds like a hard way to live.

But I say this because if you're better at imagining the catastrophes, you already have the skill of imagining what's possible and imagining something that's not currently real. Now you just get to modify that particular skill to include or pivot toward the best-case scenario. Now, the second caveat I want you to be aware of here is don't be surprised if as you do this, you notice your mind offer questions like, but how, or comments like, I've tried, and it's not working, or something like, maybe other people can create that, but not me.

Or, if you like the internal family system's terminology, different parts might show up and offer their point of view. Just like different people offer different points of view at a board meeting. Our minds can come up with all sorts of objections and arguments, and if you notice this, it's totally normal. It's just another opportunity to practice noticing but not attaching to or following every idea just because it pops into your mind. Consider these mental objections to be like guests who come over to your house for a dinner party.

Yes, you could feasibly and theoretically spend all of your time talking to one guest, but this would be the equivalent of engaging with one thought. Or you can just let your guest come in, you can show them to the food, and you can go about your night. So, even if it doesn't come easily to imagine what's possible, even if you have some objections, it is totally okay. The act of imagining what could happen when you stop a well-practiced habit is a skill, and like any skill, it's something that you can practice and strengthen over time.

So, you can even go back and listen to this podcast again and practice going through those question prompts for yourself, and I promise you with repetition, it does become easier. So, let's get back to what could be possible when you make a change in one of your habits. Bring to mind what might be possible if you stopped one of these current habits.

How does it feel to imagine that possibility? Does it feel exciting? Or encouraging? Or inspiring? Or do you feel fiercely aligned or determined? What is it for you? It doesn't have to be one feeling. It could definitely be multiple feelings. This brings us to precisely why this exercise is important and useful for habit change. Taking time to connect with what would be possible does a couple of things.

First, it makes what could be a vague notion very specific. It basically puts meat on the bones, so to speak. Listen to how this sounds. It'd be nice to stop second-guessing. I hope one day that I can do it. I can't wait until things are better. These statements are really comments surrounding habit change, but they're kind of generic, and they sound wistful and maybe even a little bit wimpy.

Versus, think about these statements. When I quit second-guessing, I'll trust myself. I'll have energy for what actually matters. I'll show my daughter that listening to an inner narrative that sounds like a bully is not the only option. I'll know who I am. I'll know what I stand for, and I won't be so timid about expressing it. I'll be 100% clear on my non-negotiables. Do you see how that specificity is so different from the more generic comments and thus so powerful?

Now, the next reason this exercise is so useful has to do with the clarity of your goal and your values. Some of you know that one of my hobbies is mountain biking, and I had the utmost pleasure of meeting and frankly trying to keep up with the late Grace Ragland. Grace passed away in early 2020, and she was a phenomenal woman. Those of you who knew her, you know what a kind and hardworking person she was and what a total badass she was when it came to biking.

For those of you who don't know her, basically, this woman was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis near the age of 18, and ultimately, she just kept mountain biking, later in life than most. She went on to be a National Advocate for the fight against MS. In her 50s, she did some amazing ultra-endurance racing like the Leadville 100 and the Tour Divide, which, if you're not familiar with, is a 2,750-mile ride from Canada to Mexica. She did it right before she was diagnosed with stage four Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

So, anyway, one of her phrases or her mottos that she lived by that anyone who had met her had heard her say often was, “keep your eye on the prize.” For Grace, “keep your eye on the prize” was something that helped her push through difficulty. It helped her balance training, get rest, keep pushing in a race even when or especially when it was hard. It helped her keep showing up even if things weren't going as well as she wanted.

Now, keep your eye on the prize does not mean later on when you get the prize, all's going to be well, but in the meantime, things are going to suck. It means when you're crystal clear about where you want to go and why it's so much easier to keep your priorities and values in the forefront of your mind. It's so much easier to do the ordinary daily work of habit change, and let's be honest, rewiring old programmed ways of thinking is often quite tedious.

There are going to be some days that unpacking habits and building the mental muscles of establishing new ones is really fun. Maybe you're filled with the determination that comes from thinking; I do hard things. I'm in. This is what it looks like and feels like to be 40 years old and learn something new. Or you feel committed when your mindset is; I'm doing this no matter what, I'm going to figure this out; it's okay if it's not easy every day.

Then, there are the other days where it's not so fun. Where it's really easy to want to quit, or it's alluring to tell yourself, it'll never work out, so why bother? And it's here in these days that knowing exactly what you want in no uncertain terms and why you want it is so critical. If you lose sight of what you want and why it matters, it's so much easier to stop when it gets hard or boring, or your process slows.

So, keeping your eye on the prize as Grace would say, having close in your mind what is possible when you change a habit, and this is like having a best friend who texts you that exact message that you need when you're just in an awful headspace, but instead of the encouraging messages coming from the outside, you create the space for that message to come within you.

Now, the last reason this exercise is so powerful is it permits you to feel how you think you're going to feel when that imagined reality is your current reality. So, let me repeat that so you can really let that sink in. This exercise of imagining what would be possible when you change a habit is powerful because it allows you to feel right now the way you think you'll feel later on when your imagined possibility is actually your reality.

When you imagine what's possible, it's akin to the guided imagery or mental rehearsal that athletes do. Your mind and body experience the imagined reality like it's here now like it's happening in this present moment. Brains are sophisticated yet sometimes quite gullible, and we can capitalize on this gullibility. In some ways, we don't really know the difference between an imagined future and a real one.

So, when you spend time imagining what could be possible when you change one of your habits, it's a little like casting a spell. You invoke certain feelings in the absence of or prior to being in the actual circumstances that you're imagining. And when you do, you can kind of reverse engineer things and figure out what you need to think to feel that way. When you invoke those feelings now, you can wonder, how might you show up? What might you do? What actions might you take when it comes to changing your habits?

And when you put all of this together, imagining what's possible reinforces three main things. Number one, it reinforces the idea that our thinking creates our feelings. When I think about what's possible and feel committed, determined, or encouraged, it's not because I'm in those circumstances. Those circumstances haven't even happened yet, but it's because of what I'm thinking. Secondly, it reinforces that we can think anything we want. As one of my teachers says, there are no belief police, and thirdly we can decide to believe something new.

We can decide to learn how to believe something new. Just like we can imagine what's possible, we can decide to think and believe different thoughts that will help us create changes in our habits. Because 99% of our habits happen because we're repetitively thinking something, which makes us repetitively feel something, and then we act from those repetative thoughts and feelings.

So, if we can imagine a future that's different and imagine what alternative things we'd be thinking in that future, we can start making those changes today. So, to bring it full circle and use Brig Johnson's brilliant quote as an example, what would happen if you stopped looking outside to be secure and emphatically decided to root for your damn self? What would change? What would be possible?

What would the you of that new future do? How would that possibility feel? What would you stop believing? What would you need to think in order to show up the way you want to show up? What core values are prioritized when you stop looking outside of yourself for security? Systematically considering this is a powerful way to change your habits.

So, let's recap, imagining what's possible helps you get clear on what you want. It also keeps your core values in the forefront of your mind and, as Grace Ragland would say, your eyes on the prize. This clarity is really important because it helps you do the work involved in making a change. It helps do the work that sometimes just not so fun, and it lays the groundwork for getting clearer on what you need to think and feel to show up how you want to.

So, the bottom line is you have so much agency, starting with your thoughts and what you think matters. It matters a lot. And you can leverage the power of being able to direct your mind on purpose, starting with the exercise of imagining what would be possible if a habit you currently have changes. So, let's get to the concrete parts; how do you apply this in real life?

So, for starters, just spend some time imagining. You can do this mentally, write it out, type it out, or if you're the artistic type and want to use your favorite medium to do this, spend some time imagining what things would be like? What might happen? What would change if the habit you have right now that you want to change was radically changed in the future? Then, after you do that, my challenge to you is to take your imagined possibility and do one of these three things.

Number one, if you love visualization, take some time this week to visualize that future get really vivid images. Focus on how it feels emotionally. Bring to mind all the different senses, tactile, visual, olfactory, auditory, bring all of those components of this future vision to your mind, and really sit in the mental space of what it's like when. The second thing you can try is if you're feeling more cerebral and you prefer writing, take your possibility that you've imagined and put it to words.

You can make it really long and detailed, or you can distill it into just one succinct robust one-liner. Like, for example, when I change this habit, it will be the end of hustling. Or once I make this change, I will have zero fucks to give, or I'll be leaving my kids a legacy that I'm so proud of. I'll be modeling what's possible. You write it in a way that resonates for you.

Then, revisit what you wrote multiple times this week. And when you read it, consider what feeling it evokes, and sit in that feeling for a while. The third option is find something ridiculously easy that you can do that will be in service of what's possible when you change a habit, and then go do it. Perhaps, you experiment with listening to your intuition and acting on it immediately, or maybe you spend one hour learning about something you need to learn in order to make go make a change.

Or you might just set a reminder on your phone, and when it goes off, you check in with how you feel emotionally, or you ask yourself, what am I thinking right now? Whatever you pick, make it your own. Now, this is not some busy work or a hollow exercise that's done in a vacuum. It is not a soft skill. It is some of the most practical work you can do. Intentionally working on imagining something that's not yet in existence and then working to make it real this is the epidemy of creativity and ingenuity.

To think on purpose is a disruptive, rebellious act. It goes against the norm of a mindless, repetitive routine where we don't question things. Where we run the risk of having regrets on our deathbed. When you imagine what's possible when you change a habit, when you clarify your core values, you reinforce the connection between how you think, what you feel, and how you behave. When you do that, you create an entirely new experience of living, and this new experience can have a ripple effect on your relationships; how you show up at work, in your community, in the world.

So, spend some time with this exercise and let me know how does it resonate with you? What did you discover? I really want to know, and you can come find me in the Facebook community, where we discuss all the topics from the podcast. It's called, Habits On Purpose, and despite never imagining that I would one day say this, you can also find me on Instagram, @kristi.angevine. That's Kristi.Angevine and I hope you have a beautiful rest of your week, and I will see you in the next episode.

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Thanks for listening to Habits on Purpose. If you want more information on Kristi Angevine or the resources from the podcast, visit habitsonpurpose.com. Tune in next week for another episode.

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