If you watched the Olympics like I did, you may be wondering what tricks you can learn from successful athletes to achieve extraordinary results.

Outside of thousands of hours of practice, there is one common trait amongst gold medalists that you can use in your business to achieve amazing outcomes. And you don't even need to hit the gym to do it.

Visualization is the practice of repeatedly imagining what you want to achieve in order to create it and attract it.

It's the method used by 23-time gold medalist Michael Phelps, phenom Katie Ledecky, and business titans like Oprah Winfrey and Sarah Blakely. It's fun (almost like daydreaming), easy, free and can be done by anyone at any stage of success or failure.

"One of the things that has been good for me I think, besides training, has been my sort of mental preparation," Phelps said of the technique.

World-record holder Ledecky has said: "I have my goals and I visualize things to help me achieve those goals ... I know what my stroke should feel like at different parts of the race, and I can just kind of picture that in my mind."

Oprah (who credits visualization with landing her celebrated role in "The Color Purple.") and other people who talk about the technique often recommend the use of a vision board, which is a group of images you create and look at to be able to visualize a certain outcome.

I have been using visualization to help me achieve my goals since I was a little girl. My latest vision board (which is a scrapbook) was created two years ago when my business was facing near impossible odds of survival.

I visualized profits, success and satisfaction - I even cut out the cover of Inc. magazine and pasted my face on it. At the time it seemed almost inconceivable that any of it would happen, and yet a short 18 months later that's exactly where I found myself.

People use vision boards for different purposes--everything from business goals, to imagining the life they want to lead, or achieving a better level of fitness.

If you don't already use visualization to drive success in your business, here are five simple steps to get started.

1. Get clear on what you want

Before you start visualizing, it's important to be clear about what it is you're looking to achieve. In business, profit, growth, recognition, a great new product, and happy employees are great places to start.

2. Keep it general

While athletes get very specific about the landing they want to stick or the race they want to run, life and business goals can be less specific. For example, I prefer visualizing profit and growth over a specific revenue number.

3. Use images

Having images to look at really helps your mind latch onto what it is you're trying to achieve. Maybe it's a photo of the perfect weekend cottage you'd like to have one day, or the image of an MBA from a great school.

4. Visualize often

Glance at your vision board multiple times a week, if not daily. Make it part of your morning routine. Glancing at your vision board or closing your eyes for 3 minutes and visualizing your goals is a great, positive way to start the day--or end it.

5. Don't trade it in for hard work

Visualization won't replace working effectively. Like Olympians, you still need to put in hours to achieve results. But visualization can act as subconscious programming, bringing opportunities to your attention that you may miss otherwise.

For me, visualization is an indispensable daily technique for achieving success. It hasn't won me any Olympic gold medals, but it helped me drive great results and bounce back from tough times. Not bad for a scrapbook.