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Put yourself in a wealthy mindset Add to ...

Developing the right mindset is mandatory for building wealth. Jack Canfield, creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, says the most important step we can take in pursuing riches is to make the decision that we want to be rich.

After making this decision, he suggests we close our eyes every day just before we get up and every night when we go to bed and visualize the rich lifestyle we want to lead. This technique is said to program our unconscious mind to find solutions to our financial problems and allow us to better see resources, people, and events that will help us reach our goal. While we all want to achieve our personal definition of the word rich, how many of us take the next step to visualize what this looks like for us? Great athletes, famous actors, and successful entrepreneurs use visualization to achieve the results they want because it works.

Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx and the youngest self-made female billionaire in the world, according to a recent issue of Forbes Magazine, says she is very big into visualization. In Jean Chatzky’s personal finance book, The Difference, Ms. Blakely says, “I believe you can take mental snapshots of your future and what success looks like to you. If you mentally see yourself in a scenario, you’ll start to make decisions in your life that get you there.”

Prior to starting her company, Ms. Blakely was selling fax machines door to door, but says she saw herself as the successful owner of Spanx and continued to visualize success. She also relentlessly pursued her dream giving all of her time and energy to make it happen, because the power of visualization alone is not enough. You can decide you want to be rich and visualize your new and improved lifestyle, but without taking specific and thoughtful action you won’t see results.

Napoleon Hill’s classic Think and Grow Rich, first published in 1937, lays out a step-by-step approach to pairing visualization with action that millions have set out to follow. First, fix in your mind the exact amount of money you desire and be clear about when you expect to receive this amount. Jim Carrey famously tried this technique in 1990 when he wrote himself a mock cheque for $10-million for “acting services rendered” and post-dated it for 1995. He gave himself five years to become one of the most successful working actors. Mr. Hill also advises you determine exactly what you intend to give in return for the money you desire. What action steps will you take to reach your desired goal? Then, ready or not, begin.

A visual blueprint to match your goals is a powerful motivation. Pinterest.com is a beautiful and effective place to organize the visual representations of your goals. A physical board works just as well. These representations of our aspirations help to prevent detours along our financial track, according to Farnoosh Torabi, author of Psych Yourself Rich. It also reminds us of what we are working toward. “Thinking about saving when you don’t really know what you’re saving for can seem pointless and uninspiring,” she says. If we are clear on our goals, we are clear on what we should be visualizing.

Wishing alone will not bring riches. Building real wealth involves more then just closing our eyes and imagining. It takes commitment, motivation, and most importantly action, but visualization is clearly an important part of the process. If it’s an integral technique for the success of Olympic athletes, famous movie stars, and self-made billionaire entrepreneurs, it should be an integral wealth building technique for us as well.

Angela Self is one of the founders of the Smart Cookies money group. Read her weekly column on managing debt and saving money at the Globe's personal finance site.

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