Visualisation, the forming a mental image of the day ahead, is now an important part of my ‘power up’ morning routine. I used to be prone to regular panic attacks, which were driven by a fear of failure, when faced with the uncertainty of the day ahead.
Meetings, presentations, conversations, deadlines were all events to be faced later in the day where I had little or no confidence about the outcome. I became anxious before the workday had even started.
This fear dissipated through using two techniques – preparation and visualisation.
Now with a clear morning routine in place and with my first cup of coffee in hand I run through the day in my head, picturing myself with the people I will be with and working through the outcomes that they and I will want. For every event or situation I imagine the setting, the likely conversation or the presentation together with questions asked and information sought and required. There are often a few possible scenarios so I consider these as well so I am mentally prepared for anything. I also visualise potential outcomes, for example people smiling or shaking hands or alternatively, if it’s a difficult outcome, their emotions and how I manage my response to those.
In this way I can positively frame the day ahead and identify most of the potential obstacles, opportunities and solutions.
This ability to picture and in my own mind predict the future is incredibly calming and instantly builds confidence and a strong sense of control.
This calm and confident feeling usually builds as the day unfolds as predicted. Even if something unexpected happens it is rarely a calamity because it is isolated and not part of a relentless wave of issues and setbacks. This also helps with keeping out negative thoughts.
This visualisation technique is also useful in the long term goal setting process and picturing sailing on a yacht in the Whitsundays or trekking in the Andes is a useful framing exercise to help get beyond the daily grind.
Visualisation doesn’t work for everyone but it works for me in reducing my stress and anxiety and building my confidence and control, 2 of the 4C’s of mental toughness.