Learning Strategies Blog

Tap Your Imagination for Greater Success

by Paul Scheele

When you were eight years old, what did you imagine you would become?

A veterinarian, musician, or astronaut? Maybe all three?

Do you still engage your creative imagination to achieve your goals today? It may be a good indicator of how sharp your memory is.

According to a recent Harvard University study, your ability to create imaginative scenarios is directly linked to your ability to remember details from the past.

Your episodic memory, which recalls your personal accounts of the past, is also responsible for projecting yourself into the future. In order to imagine future scenarios, the researchers explain, you must be able to extract details from the past and repurpose them into your imaginary future.

Psychologists and authors of the study Donna Rose Addis, Alana Wong, and Daniel Schacter conducted autobiographical interviews on younger and older participants about past and future scenarios. Their findings showed, compared to the young adult participants, older adults had significantly lower use of episodic details in describing past memories as well as imagined future events.

If your creativity feels dull, strengthen your episodic memory with these tips my business partner Pete Bissonette used to keep his imagination flowing while writing his novel, Breakfast Tea & Bourbon:

  1. Use Google to stimulate creativity. “Sometimes while working on my book, a phrase or idea would come into mind. I’d google it, quickly scan a page, and let it trigger the ingenuity I needed to keep the writing flowing,” says Pete.
  2. If you have our Future Mapping course, create charts to generate a writing flow. When Pete was stuck in any part of the storyline, he created a Future Mapping chart to find unexpected, yet perfect, paths forward. “It got me out of holes and kept the writing fun,” Pete says.

    Drawing Future Mapping charts is an innovative way to consciously connect with your other-than-conscious mind and the rich imagination, creativity, and resourcefulness within you.

  3. “Ink it while you think it.” Pete followed the advice of Sam Horn, author of our Write Well, Write Fast, Write Now program to always be prepared to write or record your ideas. For example, Pete would send himself an email any time he had an idea that could work into his novel. This way bursts of creativity were captured and saved for when he was writing.
  4. Have fun with it! You’re going to get the best results if you let your mind come out and play. If you’re having trouble turning off your analytical left brain, let your mind travel back to your favorite childhood stories. Where does your imagination go? Note what you see, hear, or feel, and see where your mind takes you from there.

What else could send you into a childlike state where your creativity soars? Perhaps the adventure of following the clues Pete has woven through the story in Breakfast Tea & Bourbon, leading you to a real-life treasure hidden somewhere in the United States worth $50,000!

That’s right. Pete hid $50,000 and wrote clues into his novel to help you find the treasure.

And, your consolation prize may just be an improved memory.