Use your Imagination

Think of an apple, a sunset, the face of a loved one; what do you see? For some, the pictures in the mind’s eye will be vivid and clear, whilst others may see blurred impressions or individual features. But now scientists have identified a condition which results in people being unable to visualise mental images.

Called aphantasia, the condition was identified by a team of Exeter University researchers led by Prof Adam Zeman. Commenting on the research, Prof Zeman said the condition is not uncommon, affecting up to 1 in 50 people but that having aphantasia, or its opposite hyperphantasia, makes quite an importance difference to people’s experience of life.

As with many other conditions, the way in which it affects people’s lives will vary. Some may find it life limiting, whilst for others it is just the way they are. And the condition certainly doesn’t mean people lack imagination; it just means that they are unable to form visual images inside their head.  In a way this puts it in the same category as having excellent or virtually non-existent spatial awareness, being good or poor at map reading, having a good ear for music or being tone deaf. In other words, they are conditions which you were born with and there is not a lot that you can do to change them.

But there are other areas in life which we do have the power to change but which can sometimes seem so intrinsic to our lifestyle that we never think of doing so. Take the long work hours scenario for example. Particularly when we own our own business, it is all too easy to become sucked into a mindset which sees throwing hours at the problem as the only solution. When we start out, we do everything simply because we are looking to control costs and we do have some spare time. As the business grows, rather than looking to outsource some of our work we simply shorten our lunch hour or add-on a little time in the morning or evening. Then we add on a bit more time and a bit more until every spare moment is taken up in administration.

It doesn’t have to be like this. Stop for a moment and think about how you envisaged the business to be when you originally set out. Now take some steps to move business reality closer to your imagination. Do you need to rush to answer phones or could you outsource calls, does your diary have to sit on your desk or could it be managed by others, and do you really have to spend every evening in telephoning clients to remind them about their appointments or could this be managed in another way?

Being honest, we all have things about us that we would rather change. Some of them arise directly from our chromosomes and we might as well just get on and do the best we can with the hand we were dealt. But in other areas we can be our own worst enemy and perhaps it’s time to take positive action in pursuit of a more balanced lifestyle.