Many years ago I used to do some tutoring and frequently would help students with study skills including preparing for tests. I often told students who lacked confidence in their ability to do well on a test to change their thought of “I’m going to fail” to something like “I’m going to do well”.
I was reminded of that recently from something that Mel Robbins said in one of the videos that she posted as part of her free Mindset Reset course that she’s running. In the video she talks about how to use visualization of positive experiences to help keep you from worrying excessively about negative things that “might” happen in the future. One example I’ve heard her talk about repeatedly is how she used visualization to deal with her fear of flying. Instead of obsessing over the potential for something to go wrong, she pictures herself safely at her destination.
I know that I’ve given myself undo stress over thoughts about how vacations, meetings, even cooking a meal for my family could go wrong. In the end, things mostly go right and there was no reason to worry.
A healthy dose of thinking about what could go wrong may help you prepare for a situation, such as a presentation to a potential client or booking a trip with multiple connecting flights, but obsessing over how badly things might go, only causes unnecessary stress on your mind and body. Also, once you’re feeling that stress, it’s very easy to start worrying about other things that may not have caused you concern under other circumstances. It can create a vicious cycle. I know this from personal experience. Robbins’s video helped remind me of the lesson that I tried to impart on those students many years ago and I’m using it not only for short term situations (“am I going to make it to the bus without slipping on the ice”) as well as more long-term plans.
When I made commitments to myself and set some goals for 2019, I did it in the form of a vision for how I’d like the year to look when I review it in December. I wrote up a document using the past tense to describe how I want 2019 to unfold. It includes things like:
• I finished writing a complete draft of a novel
• I completed the coaching certification program that I enrolled in in late 2018
• I gave a kick-ass keynote in BC in April (it’s my first keynote and I’m super excited)
There are also items related to my health and fitness, family, friends, this site, and more about my work at the university. While I read through the document when I’m planning my weeks, it wasn’t until I saw Robbins’s video that it occurred to me that I need to be visualizing my vision for 2019. I’m starting to do this every morning. It takes all of 30 seconds to picture myself being introduced for my keynote, picture myself enjoying a run on the treadmill (which I actually do several mornings a week), and even seeing myself signing copies of my novel at a bookstore. I picture this and then I make sure that I’m making the time to do take action toward reaching my vision. It’s far easier to put in the effort when you can see yourself being successful at the task.