Created Monday, June 20th, 2022,
Planning and visualization comprises tasks that were not previously combined in the prior system, but here are combined because they involve activities that should be joined. Initially the planning here mentioned involved tasks that were collected for performance during the day, and these were recorded and reminded using the paper Personal Form. The visualization involved the imagining of the course of the day and certain events to be avoided, or to be created. This relates to planning because in planning there is the addition of certain acts, and potentially the removal of unwanted acts. Combining tasks lists with visualization in advance of the course of events later increases the chance of successfully completing plans.
When I first started the visualization section it was due to recognition of unwanted habits which had combined negative effects on 1) Health, 2) Body weight, 3) Planned nutrition, 4) Planned Events, and 5) Decreased Livelihood via Decreased Money. Additionally there was the strengthening of habits which would predictably lead to repetition of the same unwanted behaviors, which have the above negative connetion points and others besides. At the time I was overweight so my relationship was of lower quality too.
For example, suppose I wanted to refrain from eating some particular fast food at some place I overly frequnted. Some in ordinary life, without understanding of psychology, will simply reprimand and repeat that one should not engage in that behavior. Howver, clearly if habitual there are issues of compulsion, inability to remember or appreciate other goals, automaticity in behavior, perhaps reduced energy for decision at the time performed, and so on.
Visualization supports in providing a method that increases the probability of change of habitual behavior, because it allows for thinking through the actions desired at a time when there is still abundant energy, but before the expected behavior, so there is the limitation that the visualization does not itself change the behavior that comes later. Visualization, however, is intended to be a vivid visual recreation of events, and creation of desired events, in the mind, such that when the time comes, the visualized behavior is that which is performed. Emphasis is not on removeal of an act, but on which act is desired. So if I wanted to avoid having a particular fast food, what I would visualize doing is something alternative which is what I would prefer to be doing. So instead of driving home one particular route that passes by that fast food location, I would visualize the pathway home from work, and how I would feel, and the desirability of seeing anohter route home, and of seeing what I would see on that path that would be desireable, and seeing myself take the course with stops and sights that are very different, all of the way home. The result, sometimes is quite successful. Having already visualized the pathway, I would drive home feeling like I already took that path, and perhaps even that this occasion was not even the first occasion of going that way. It’s a first attempt at creating a habitual behavior without having already engaged in that behavior. Taking this other pathway, the fast food place is totally avoided. Compulsions attached to triggers and automaticities are avoided because that location and its cues and spatial characteristics, and branding remdinders, and conditioned feelings are no longer there at all.
In this section of the personal form today, I may place certain tasks from my backlog of tasks that have special priority. I think now of my tasks as a very large set of tasks that were not already completed, rather than thinking of them as tasks that must be done during the day at the time they are recorded. However, that is in part due to my being semi-retired, and my not having any strong need to complete anything any particular day. Shifting my calendar to cycles and shifts, I would recommend that others think of their to-do list as a backlog too, becasue the completion of tasks is not especially well related to single days, but more related to getting things done over a longer period of time. In work environments there is a methodology called “agile methodology” which takes this same perspective. Work carries over through the entire year, and iterations on development is preferred over hard milestones, even though occasionally milestones are also desirable and cannot be removed. Nevertheless, healthy completion of tasks from a backlog with the idea that cyclical completions occur over longer spans than days is really useful for training to complete longer term projects too. Instead of trying to complete something finally and fast, there is the better feeling of progress that really has no end or a more distant end. Fitness to achieve a certain look is less desirable than creating smaller goals involving habits that carry over the lifespan. After having completed my career I accout my success in part to this perspective, and benefit from it more considering that I simply have a large number of tasks to do, and can do some of them now, but will have plenty to do later. Having plenty to do later is nice because then one has not run out of things to do, which may help some who get bored or those who forget what they could be doing.
After selecting a task from my backlog and recording it on my form, which allows me to remind myself later of what I will do, like shop at the grocery store to get specific needed items, I will visualize my course such that I totally complete the task, in a positive way (meaning if I’m avoiding something, again, I replace that with what I will be doing, rather than dwell on that thing to be avoided). For example, suppose my list at the grocery store does not include a specific food. I will trace through the grocery store focused on what I will get, and I will avoid those portions of the store that might include the food I don’t want or triggers to get that food. I learned a while back one method which supports this, which is to shop the produce and outer portion of the store but not the inner portions of the store, which include ailes with more expensive processed foods. So if I visualize my path through the store it will likely be the local store, going through produce, maybe to the healthier section with vegetarian items, and the frozen section, picking up those items on the list, as if no other items existed.
This type of visualization in advance would be performed by me normally in the mornings. The first thing I would do before working would be to take out the form and go through each section. The first section would be the tasks, and a later section would be visualization, although now they would be combined. I am developing this further so I may switch to a more mnemonic approach, but initially, getting back into it again, I will utilize the personal form once again. At this point I will choose those tasks most important to me, and I would visualize the pathway taken later in the accomplishment of those tasks. This takes time to do, so one cannot do it for each and everything that one wants to do, unless one finds a way to repeat visualizations later. That could be possible, but I have not achieved this. Instead I had limited energy and I would do it at once when focused on that section of the form.
There is more to the visualization in that the visualization also includes other workflows of interest that accomplish important daily tasks in a short time. For example, there is the morning routine which is designed to allow for doing almost everything mundane that one needs to do in a day in the morning all in one chunk of time. The idea here is that by the time the morning is over, all that is required to be done is already done, except those things that might be work or education related. Now I would consider that such a routine would create a full day of time for doing things I would prefer to do over mundane things. However the mundane things included not only chores and simple necessary tasks, but also tasks that are essential for well-being, like getting some exercise, ensuring clean clothes, some meditation to have some calm, and eating a healthy quick meal. Visualization also includes this thinking through the mnemonics and of carrying out each step, and for the memorization of those steps, and for carrying those out routinely. My morning and evening routines have been totally abandoned since I’ve been doing the personal form, in part because my habits already included much that I wanted to include. I.e. I became the thing I wanted to become and my habits were good enough to avoid having to go through the effort of visualizing and recording on the personal form and doing the various rituals. This is the objective of the training: to not really need the form but to be the type of person that does all without much effort or thought because all is habitual. Like the person who could not go to the gym versus the person who enjoys the gym and can hardly conceive of not going routinely.
However, after a period of time, some key parts of life can start to regress, and some categories of behavior can be omitted and excessively avoided. In my life I am feeling a need for returning to the form to get back into a better state, particularly now that I work much less and seem to have time free with some greater level of aimlessness. I also engage in behaviors that are not as necessary, like working on the computer when that is really to fill time rather than to do something perhaps much different that is very healthful and desirable and new. So I am returning to visualization myself and to using this form, to rehabituate and habituate anew, beneficial behaviors. But only until I reach a point when it is no longer necessary, and in that case I will again stop, but will have this again to return to, in case I will need it again.
[Written in 31 minutes with no spelling corrections or edits]
I am a semi-retired social architect and consultant, with professional/academic experience in the fields of computer science, psychology, philosophy, and more recently, economics.
Articles on this site are eclectic, and draw from content prepared between 1980 and 2022. Topics include ethics, art, fitness, finances, health, psychology, and vegetarianism. The common theme connecting all articles is moral philosophy, even if that is not immediately apparent. Any of my articles that touch on "the good and virtuous life" will be published here. These articles interrelate with my upcoming theory of ethics, two decades in preparation.
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