#HabitFormation: How I Taught Myself to Make Visualization a Daily Ritual

Why Tiffany Kumar, SVP of 2101 Songs Publishing, spends five minutes each morning visualizing her optimal day ahead.

We all have those habits we struggle to make a part of our daily routine—exercising before work, journaling in the morning, flossing every night, keeping an organized to-do list. As a part of our #HabitFormation campaign, we are talking to individuals who have mastered an aspirational habit, in hopes that taking a deep dive into how they made the behavior pattern a regular part of their routine may just help us make it a part of our own. 

Do you consider yourself to be a habitual person? Does establishing habits come easily for you or take a lot of work?

I naturally like to feel free. I’m not usually drawn to repetitiveness or habits, because it means I have to be “on.” I would rather be relaxed and go about my day. It wasn’t until I realized the positive effect on my stress and happiness due to my new habit that I implemented it daily. Some habits make me feel even more relaxed.

What made you decide that you wanted to make visualization a daily habit?

I had an upcoming meeting I was nervous about and someone suggested I visualize the day ahead. It evolved into two parts for me. I visualized waking up the next morning feeling energized and ready. I answer each question in the meeting with grace and fluidity. The second part is adding specifics like time to my visualization. I visualize drinking green tea at 8:30 a.m. and going for a 20-minute run. I will then be back and showered in time to review notes at 9:30 a.m. The meeting will last for 45 minutes and they will ask for a follow-up meeting to take place in a month.

I was confident and no longer anxious about this meeting. This positive result led me to making visualization a daily habit.

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How did you first go about implementing it into your routine? Did you start slowly, or go all in and revamp your everyday routine off the bat?

I saw the effect this habit made on my piece of mind and my productivity. It motivated me to implement the habit of visualization into my daily routine. Detailing the time of every activity made me realize I have more hours in the day. I even visualize the weekends.

The people that say they don’t have time to workout or they are extremely stressed out will benefit the most from visualizing the day ahead. Studies have shown that it is easier to wake up in the morning when you have something to look forward to like Christmas morning. How can we make every morning feel as good as Christmas morning? If you pay attention to the rewards of your new habit it’s easier to continue.

Once you decided to commit, how long did it take you to establish this habit as something that came naturally on a daily basis?

It took a few weeks to commit to this habit on a daily basis. Sometimes, I will visualize more in depth and for a longer time, but sometimes it’s a simple 2-5 minute moment to envision enjoying the day ahead. I add a few notes to my calendar with detailed time stamps of when I will wake up, answer emails, call my parents, read and workout. My calendar used to only be comprised of appointments and meetings, but the detail that I now include actually makes me feel like I have more time.

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How has this habit positively affected your daily life? 

When I visualize my day I realize I have more time to accomplish tasks. It’s satisfying to cross off tasks on my to-do list. I also enjoy my daily activities more knowing that I have scheduled time to get everything done. I can concentrate on one thing at a time and put the next task out of my mind. The most dramatic change to my life has come with the release of anxiety. If I visualize happiness and enjoyment in an activity then it positively affects that activity when I am doing it the next day.

What “bad” habits got in the way or made it harder to establish this “good” habit?

Feeling positive and energized about the day ahead can be difficult when you know you have a ton of work to do or you are nervous. I have felt too busy or overwhelmed with the day ahead to visualize, but I find that this is when I need to do it most.

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What “tricks” made it easier to incorporate this habit into your daily routine while you were still working on resetting your mindset and making it something that became second nature?

Even tasks as simple as morning yoga, brainstorming ideas for work, or mailing a package go into my calendar now. It feels great to check these things off as you do them. This makes keeping the habit easier. Many days I even add the 5 minutes I need for visualization into my calendar. I find it works best for me to do it before I go to sleep.

Do you find it easier or harder to maintain this habit during the week versus the weekend when schedules tend to be more relaxed and flexible? 

Weekends can go by so fast. When I visualize my Saturday morning, I feel at ease about sleeping in and catching up on TV shows. I know that I have allocated time for this and I can truly enjoy it.

Are there still days where you get caught up in a busy schedule and skip this habit? If so, how do you handle it? Does it have an impact on the rest of your daily routine?

Some mornings I will see an urgent email or will get a call that messes up my schedule. There are always factors that can throw off my day, or nights where I fall asleep before visualizing the next day. This doesn’t happen before days I have an important meeting or very busy schedule. I have realized that I especially need visualization before days like that.

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What other habits are you currently working on adding to your daily routine?

For some reason, I find more motivation to go for a run than sit still and mediate or do yoga. I will go three days in a row with yoga and then it will be weeks before I go back to it. I feel positive effects on my whole body and mind with yoga and plan to make this a daily habit.

Did you learn anything from making this habit that you find helpful when implementing other new habits, or that other people way find helpful when trying to implement a habit of their own?

Identifying the positive effects of my new habit is helpful when I’m trying to implement it into my daily routine. I show myself that the positive outweighs trying to remember to do it or the time it takes to do it.

While attending NYU, Tiffany Starr Kumar began her career in music when she met Kanye West. She joined his small team while he was recording The College Dropout album. Tiffany went on to become a songwriter and started networking with fellow New York City writers and producers. Discovering that her passion is to build the careers of new writers, Tiffany took a creative executive role working her way to Vice President at Primary Wave Music Publishing. As a company founded on iconic catalogs, Tiffany was responsible for signing and grooming new writers and producers. Some titles she brought to their repertoire include Eminem ft Rihanna “Monster,” Chris Brown “Loyal,” Tinashe “2 On,” and Rihanna “Needed Me.” Tiffany went on to run creative for 2101 Songs, which was owned by multi-Grammy Award winning producer RedOne. RedOne has produced hits for Lady Gaga, Enrique, and Jlo.

 

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