Visualization vs. Visioning: The Difference

04/26/2015 11:41 pm ET | Updated Jun 26, 2015

Every great idea begins in the mind and then manifests into form. Before the first airplane was built, there was a vision for it. Before the light bulb was invented there was a vision for it.

There's no doubt that having a vision is cornerstone to any business, project, or goal you want to achieve.

However, there's a difference between visioning and visualization. Both are helpful and serve different purposes.

The difference: Visualization is a process where you're controlling the vision/image you see. For example, you decide to take 10 minutes out of your morning and visualize the new home you want to move into that you viewed last week.

Or you visualize yourself turning the key in the lock in your brand new office/studio that you just scoped out or hope to find.

Visualization starts on the outside (we have a clear and solid picture of what we want) and then through focusing on that image we visualize what it would be like to have what we desire. In other words -- visualization works from the outside-in.

Visioning on the other hand is a different process: it's a process of working from the inside-out:

Instead of having a picture in your mind of what you want to see manifest in your life, you get internally still and quiet so that you are able to see the vision that comes to you.

This kind of visioning is an internal intuitive process where instead of manufacturing a vision, you allow the vision to come to you.

This is a powerful practice -- often a greater vision than we could have imagined will come to us showing us the way to our soul-inspired work, and the best path forward in our work and life

How do you go about this process?

Get really quiet: Find a quiet place where you can sit uninterrupted for 15 minutes.

Begin with a few deep breaths to help clear your mind. Continue to focus on your natural breath as you practice meditation for at least five minutes. This helps to clear your mind from self-imposed visualizations/thoughts/ideas

Begin to ask questions that will invoke a vision. Open questions are best such as:

"Universe, what do you want me to know?"

"What do I need to be shown to make my next move?"

"What project can I start on that will benefit me and others?"

"What project is for my greatest good and for the greatest good of all?"

"What do I need to know right now?"

"What do I need to see right now?"

As you ask each question (or just choose one depending on how much time you have) spend a few minutes back in a meditative state where you sit with the question. Pay attention to the impressions/visions/thoughts/ideas that come up.

Have a pen and paper handy so that you can take notes of any insights that arise.

Once you feel complete/had a vision or visions/ideas come through, look over your notes and see if there is a clear next step forward.

If you received a multitude of different visions -- take a deeper look and see if there is an overarching theme that is showing you your next move forward.

Here's an example:

Sara did the above exercise and when she sat with the questions she would see images of palm trees, then dolphins, roaring waves, a sailboat. All the images seemed slightly scattered at first and there was no clear call to action. She wasn't one of those people who heard a message or had a clear thought "Start your bakery business." Instead she saw a bunch of images that she couldn't quite make sense of.

Once she took some time to write it down, reflect, and look for a common theme, it was very clear what her next move would be: She'd had a deep passion to work on an ocean conservation project that would help protect endangered species. She knew that her next move was to get in contact with a non profit that helped ocean creatures.

As you can see from that example -- by taking the time to practice visioning, you may not get a clear call to action:

But by taking the time to reflect on what did come up during your visioning exercise, you'll make sense of it by acknowledging the common themes that came up for you.

Visioning is a powerful exercise. Unlike visualization that has you impose your idea of what's best, visioning is an internal process:

Get quiet enough on the inside to hear the intelligence and messages waiting for you.

This is quite akin to the power of meditation, and visioning certainly uses the power of meditation to help you receive the visions that will take you forward on your soul-inspired creative work.

And remember: this is not a one-time practice. This is an ongoing practice that helps us stay on track (especially when we feel uncertain or are starting something new). Visioning is a wonderful tool to help us gain clarity and see how to move forward in our business, projects and life.

Tova Payne is a writer and consultant merging spirituality with entrepreneurship -- helping people take conscious action to create work from the soul. For more tips on taking conscious action to start and finish your dream projects and a meditation audio for clarity click here. For more about Tova visit