Visualizing Success

In undergrad when I was supposed to be building little stereochemical models using plastic balls and sticks, I read a lot of self-development books instead. Many of them spoke to the power of visualization and its simple three steps:

1) Visualize one’s goals with as much details as possible as if they have already been achieved. Note how it feels, what it looks like and heck, even how it smells if you can swing it.

2) Write down those details then put the paper away and forget about it.

3) Accidentally happen upon that piece of paper some time later and recognize with shock that you managed to realize your heart’s desires without even “trying”.

The secret lies with the subconscious: once you defined what success is in the most primordial way (that is, what it feels like to each of your senses), the subconscious then knows what to work towards and guides your subsequent decisions in a way conducive to the realization of those sensations.

As I’m cleaning out my “treasure trunk” (a Hudson’s Bay Company limited edition metal popcorn tin) in preparation for my upcoming move, I came upon such a list I wrote on Feb 3, 2007, titled “No limitations 5 year goal”.

I guess it was one of my earlier attempts at visualization because most of the list read like a Christmas wish list (“Chanel quilted purse, Burberry trench and Louboutin red-soled shoes”) with no details of the sensations I expect to experience when those “goals” are realized. Consequently, I’m still sadly lacking those wardrobe essentials.

A slightly better one was “Working well-paid Parisian science plant-related research job” (although the grammar was admittedly shitty). Nevertheless, this attempt at visualization was better because I did end up doing research on genetically-modified tobacco plants that summer, albeit in Germany and only for a living stipend. I think I could’ve visualized with more feeling.

However, there was one winner in this list that made my skin tingle and my jaw drop. It was also the longest and the most emotionally-involved visualization: “Live in traditional but in great condition old Parisian apartment with Eiffel Tower view, on same side of the river, in cluster with other such apartments”. Bam! Five years later in 2012, I spent my February (as well as January, March and April) in precisely such a flat on rive gauche. During the five years in between the time I wrote down that goal on lined, three-ring binder paper to when I looked out my window at the Eiffel, life took me down paths I wasn’t even capable of fathoming back in 2007. Yet in spite of it all, the power of visualization still got me to that Parisian rooftop apartment.

So basically what I’m getting to is this, it’s time to get back to dreaming.


In the darkest moments of the night, I woke to the spring storm with a start. Woken by the dream with a man I never thought I would, then unable to return to sleep at the realization of another that never could. I checked my timeline to what I already knew was true. These past months my body has been solemnly marking its milestones of a year ago. It remembers the crowd swirling the French academy foyer on that last rainy day in Paris, it remembers the snow-capped mountains surrounding a cabin in Norway. Whenever I’m worked up I just have to look back on the calendar, as I remember the when, my body remembers the who and the how.


Surprise #1

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For my 26th birthday, I bought myself a condo.

Yeah that’s right, let it sink in.

I knew this place was going to be mine the moment I turned around and saw the church looming out the bedroom window. I have had only two other moments of such clarity in my life so far. These are moments in which one realizes an absolute truth. A statement surfaces in one’s head as involuntarily and as clearly as if one bursted out saying it. This time, it was “This is the view I’m going to wake up to”. I guess this is what people mean when they say, “You just know“. Five realtors, six mortgage brokers (and counting) and one lawyer later, I got exactly what I wanted and in the way I wanted it.

Obviously there are lots of dish but I’ve got to go autograph a whole bunch of papers and spend wads of money so I will get back to you later. To keep you entertained (*cough: jealous), here are select photos of my new place. Note that the decor seen is not mine, it’s from when the property was staged for sale. Obviously, mine will be so much better. Glam shots coming up.

For those not familiar with Ottawa, the church you see is Notre Dame Basilica and the glass building to the left of it is the National Gallery of Canada. In Paris I had the Eiffel Tower and Les Invalides, in Ottawa I have Notre Dame d’Ottawa (you see, I want to ensure you are properly informed to be as jealous as you ought to be).

P.S. I used a pink pen.