Symbols Beyond Words: Visualize What You Want To Become In The Future
A few years ago we were planning to move to a house with garden with my family. Back then we lived in a nice flat in the city with all its advantages. We all wanted bigger space, direct garden connection, fresh air, but still we loved our cosy flat a lot as well. So, we were moving slowly and ambiguously in this house-buying project. Till the day when my husband came home from work in the afternoon and stuck a flipchart paper on the wall of the living room with the printed picture of the house we spotted.
And with a lot of clean and empty space on it.
He said: “Here is our new house. In the next few weeks we can draw anything we want to create, do, change, experience and make happen in this new home. When you come around and have an idea, grab a pen and draw it.”
I don’t have to say that by the end of the week the flipchart paper was full. Full of ‘things’ we desired to make happen in our new home: reading in a hammock, having rabbits in the backyard, planting lavender, cutting grass (!), organizing pyjama party in tents, inviting friends for barbecue, work from home sitting on the terrace…
At that point something changed in our spirit. We could hardly wait till summer to move. And I’m gladly announcing: we made all our visions happen!
Think in a nonverbal way
Despite the fact that we all know the power lying in visualization, we do not leverage its potential enough. We are often reluctant to use visualization saying ‘I’m not really artistic… I’m not good at drawing’.
And we tend to forget that visualization is not about drawing. It is more about imagination, structure and creation. It helps to think in a nonverbal way.
You think visually when you use a mind map to capture and connect your ideas. In Lego Serious Play you use bricks to build and visualize your strategy, values and goals of your company. It’s a value adding part of Design Thinking methodology as well.
All these techniques are for accelerating innovation, organizational development and process improvement. All in all, visualization has the potential to be applied in many forms as we can use it in various and distinct contexts.
In this article I decided to highlight the advantages of visualization through the example of Symblify™, an app where visualization is a key element of the user experience and the value-adding workflow process as well.
Get in the habit of doing visualization
Visualization can be a part of our everyday life. It is applicable not only in business meetings or presentations. It is able to move us forward when solving problems in the personal fields of our lives as well.
Visualization has a role to play in developing and expressing our ideas, in making others understanding our messages, and even in understanding our own situations, preferences and opportunities better.
There are so many situations in life visualization can be beneficial to us. In order to understand how, let’s see the 10 magic features of visualization!
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#1 Develops organically
You can start visualization anytime, even when you do not know exactly all the details. You don’t need to have a fully prepared presentation in your head to begin drafting your ideas in a visual way.
Visualization works at two levels: it illustrates your content, while at the same time it moves your thinking forward. It develops organically as you start to unfold and lay down the pieces of your concept. It is flexible, so you don’t have to know the whole content when you start to visualize it.
In Symblify™ you only need a good question that you want to get clear about in order to start a session where you can visualize your thoughts. You don’t need to know the answers and solutions in the beginning, they will emerge as you use the symbol cards to describe your situation.
#2 Unlocks the power of your right brain
Visualization allows us to access different parts of our brain that we might not use when we usually solve a problem in an analytical and logical way. You might have experienced that you often face complex situations where you need a different kind of problem solving. One that has to bring in more than just logic.
When we visualize something, our right brain is activated in fields where creativity and intuition root.
Besides, the images and symbols you use in visualization also calls the part of your brain where feelings live. As a result of using this method you gain a much deeper understanding and a more unique insight of the visualized situation.
In Symblify™ there are hundreds of capturing symbols available to get in touch with your right brain. You may have experienced that sometimes it is hard to find the exact and right words for a situation. By using these unique symbols in Symblify you can easily express those mixed feelings or complex thoughts related to your topic.
#3 Shows context, big picture & structure
Visualizing your thoughts, ideas and plans allows you to see them together, in relation with each other. That gives you the chance to understand their context and to analyze their interconnectedness.
Besides, “seeing” your ideas helps you to discover how you can merge some of them, separate others or form groups from the similar ones.
This structuring process may lead you to see your situation less complex or easier to understand.
In Symblify™ after you have chosen the symbols that best describes you or your topic, you have the opportunity to structure the symbols in a shape that expresses the connections between the elements of the topic. As you see all the important parts together in a plain screen, it becomes almost obvious to understand the big picture, discover the patterns and highlight the main relationships between the parts.
#4 Gives new perspectives
After you restructured your ideas, thoughts, actions in a big picture by visualization it allows you to see things from a different perspective. Your imagination opens up and you start to think about possibilities that you haven’t seen before.
In Symblify™ guiding questions helps you to discover a new perspective in the picture you created from your chosen symbols. This new perspective directly leads you to new solutions that were unseen before without that context or without that change in perspective.
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#5 Provides platform to practice
When people imagine something the same areas are getting activated in their brain as if they were actually doing it. When we tell stories about our past experiences (e.g. a great success or a sad event) we relive them. Similarly, if we talk about what we are going to do in the future, we literally practice those actions in our head.
This practice is more powerful when we imagine the process of that action step by step. Visualization helps us to imagine that future, making it easier to talk about its details and practicing the specific steps.
In Symblify™ as you imagine the ideal solutions to your topic and visualize them by symbols, they come alive in your mind and you can get used to that image. By describing it in details, you can practice how you are going to act in that future situation you created.
#6 Creates creative tension
When we imagine the future solutions to a situation we can strengthen this image by visualization.
Visualization makes our inner pictures tangible and easy to shape.
As we see this image of the ’bright future’, a creative tension rises in us. It calls us to get closer to that image. This positive tension (sometimes in the form of excitement, desire or curiosity) increases the motivation that drives us to take measures and actions to reach that desired state.
In Symblify™ you imagine that your issue has been solved. You visualize it in a different structure with even new symbols. And as you do it something changes in your spirit. You start to feel confident and comfortable with that situation and get ready to do something to achieve it.
#7 Provides a creative process
Many of us have the desire to have a creative job, or at least have some parts of our jobs that needs our creativity. We can use visualization in almost any stages of our projects, when we talk about our results, our problems to solve, when we teach somebody to deliver processes, when we gather information, when we tell a story…
So, by visualization we can feel that we really created or built something in a spontaneous way, something unique, and something useful for others or for ourselves.
In Symblify™ you are in charge to build your story from the best-fitting symbols and create your own solution. There are no standard pieces of advice to follow. As one Symblify user said: it is like creating the comics of your whole situation.
#8 Easy to understand
Visualization makes it easier to understand fluffy concepts or complicated problems. We clarify the connections and untangle some misunderstanding as we create a structure from the elements in question (described in #3). When you make a visualization about something you have to be clear and direct, as pictures, lines, forms and colors are more tangible than words.
Therefore the chance that somebody does not understand our explanation decreases.
In Symblify™ when you are ready, at the end of your session you get a visual memo of how you restructured your topic. When you share it with others and explain your thoughts, feelings and conclusions along the symbols, they will easily understand what is important for you in that issue and in that solution.
#9 Easy to remember
When we do visualization we often use metaphors or create unique pictures, illustrations of the situations. These pictures and metaphors help us to remember the whole situation in details even after a long time. For example, when you described your team as an old windmill, you will remember who was the broken blade and who was the weathercock at the rooftop.
You can pack a whole system in a single picture and when you recall that picture, you recall all the details of that complex system as well.
In Symblify™ the symbols we use to visualize what is inside are very captivating. You will remember even after months what the ‘owl’, the ‘bus’, and the ‘factory’ stood for in that big picture representing your issue.
#10 Offers platform for co-creation
Visualization is flexible, so it is open for expansion at any time. Besides, usually the result of visualization is easy to understand and easy to remember. Therefore, it offers a great platform for people to co-create. Others can quickly connect to our concepts and ideas as they see them in a context, and these adds-ons from others can effectively move forward the process of thinking and creating together.
In Symblify™ there are opportunities to share your visions with others, or even create your visions together. The user friendly platform, the clear process and the impressive symbols make it easy to invite others into the visualization process.
Challenge for the week
Visualization can be the part of our personal or business life. You don’t have to be a skilled drawer or visualization expert to start applying it. Use symbols beyond words bravely, visualize what you want to become in the future and feel the creative tension as you get ready and motivated to live up to this image.
Now the floor is yours: How do you leverage your imagination? Visualize your situation, change perspective & create your solutions with Symblify™! Then, you can’t wait to make them happen. Download Symblify™ from the App Store today!
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