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20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem--page 17
by Monica A. Frank, Ph.D.

Step 17. Mentally Rehearse.

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Once you have developed specific goals through visualizing success and how to achieve it, the next step is to rehearse those goals. This is the step that many people miss. They believe that just having a goal and a plan is good enough. But often, it is not.

For example, have you ever known someone who has good intentions but no follow through? Let's say they are always late for work and although they intend to get up earlier and get to work on time they are unable to do so. For many people this is a problem of lack of mental rehearsal. In other words, they tell themselves the night before, “I'm going to get to work on time” and set the alarm earlier. But that's where it stops. Achieving the goal of getting to work on time is more likely if they practice in their mind getting up to the alarm and planning their time. People who are on time aren't just magically punctual. Instead, they have considered the tasks they need to accomplish, the time it takes, and when to start each task: “These are the things I need to do in the morning: I need to shower by X time and eat breakfast by X time and return emails by X time and leave the house by X time.” It's also about being realistic. If the person knows that it takes a half hour to awaken to the alarm, then saying "I will jump out of bed when the alarm rings" is not realistic but setting the alarm a half hour earlier might be more effective.

Certainly, someone may not mentally rehearse every thing they do throughout the day particularly those goals that are routine. However, when something is new to their routine or it is difficult for them or it is very important to them, then mental rehearsal is something successful people do. For instance, if you have ever watched the downhill skiers or the gymnasts in the Olympics, you may have noticed that prior to their event many of them are off to themselves with their eyes closed. They are not just relaxing. They are mentally rehearsing the run or the routine. These are people who are very successful and skilled at their sport, yet they visualize every movement they will make.

Mental rehearsal can often be the difference between those who achieve success and those who don't for almost any type of goal. For instance, if you need to confront a person about a problem situation and you anticipate conflict, mentally rehearse how you can do it. What will you say? How can you respond to things the other person might say? What tone of voice and word choice is best? Once you come up with possibilities, practice in your head over and over until you can respond without hesitation. Or, with this type of goal you can even practice in front of a mirror observing your non-verbal skills such as making eye contact and facial expressions.

To summarize, don't stop with intention and a plan. Instead, mentally rehearse each step of your plan. As you may realize, when you follow these steps of visualizing success and mental rehearsal there is no room for negative thoughts. Your focus is on HOW to achieve your goal which diverts your attention from thoughts of failure.

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