Visualizing your goals has long been a way to positively set your mind towards challenges and set yourself up for success. But not everyone (including some scientists) believe that a glass-half-full mindset is a way to achieving your dreams.

What Is Visualization?

Visualization is imagining yourself living the goals and dreams you’ve set, vividly in your own mind. So if you want a new job, you imagine yourself acing the interview, and what it would be like to work at the new place, your coworkers, and how happy you’d be. Visualizing yourself in the situation is a way to make it real, at least in your mind.

Some people even use visualization to overcome anxiety and fear of the unknown, because by walking their mind through the events that haven’t happened, they can reassure themselves of the outcome, and even gain confidence in the knowledge that things will work out okay.

How Do People Use Visualization?

Athletes use visualization to see themselves winning, or scoring a goal. Some creatives use it to practice their art, as some studies have shown that you can reinforce or even improve your skills just through mental practice. Others use it simply to reinforce what is important to them and what they want to achieve.

Yet even though many swear by the positive results of visualization, just as many (including scientists) say that visualization is a waste of time and energy (literally).

Does Visualization Work?

The jury is still out on that one. There have been studies that show that visualization is simply daydreaming with purpose, and it not only wastes your time but actually makes you less reactive and less likely to chase your goal – you spend all of your energy on visualizing it, and none of your energy on making your dreams come true.

The only benefit these studies found were that the participants (the dreamers) were more relaxed, which can help to boost creativity. And just because you aren’t actively chasing your goals when you visualize them, doesn’t mean it can’t help to build your confidence and lessen your anxiety around the future.

So keep visualizing the big goals you want to achieve, but just remember to save a little energy for making them a reality.