Did you read Why Vision is a Critical Tool in Self-Advocacy? There, we highlighted the importance of vision in planning and succeeding in self-advocacy:

Before we can accomplish anything, we need to have a vision of where we want to go. For people facing stigmatized challenges vision can also build the confidence needed to reject stigma and build a stronger, healthier, and self-determined identify.

So, how can a person actually use visualization as a self-advocacy strategy?

The most successful athletes know that mental preparation is a key to sports success. They use imagery exercise  to

Build motivation

Ease anxiety

Work through challenges

Practice skills

Enhance performance

Next week, I will teach a continuing education session to around 100 attorneys. It will be a new experience for me. The topic is substance use and the legal profession. My goals are to teach and inform, but also to advocate. The more attorneys know and understand addiction and recovery, the better their chances of taking care of themselves and supporting others who need help.

My presentation is prepared. I know the information by heart. Remember, I want to teach and motivate. That means it can’t be boring. I need to knock it out of the park!

So, how can I use visioning to prepare for that new teaching and advocacy experience? I have learned from sports psychology that visioning works best if it is detailed and has a positive focus.

Here is some visioning I will use to prepare for my talk:

Find a quiet and comfortable time to do the visioning exercise.

  • Envision myself eating healthy food and sleeping well the night before so that I feel my best.
  • Imagine how I will prepare my clothing, work-bag, and business cards, so that I feel confident.
  • Envision myself calmly setting up the technical aspects of the talk (computer and microphone) and asking for help when I need it.
  • Feel myself take deep breaths before I start and then introduce myself in a cheerful and respectful way.
  • Be confident that the information I am providing is important and worth their time.
  • Remember not to rush through the information, but to give the audience time to absorb what I am saying.
  • Hear someone ask me a question that I do not know the answer to. Imagine myself calmly stating that it is an interesting question and that I will find the answer and contact them to provide it.
  • See the audience looking interested, clapping, and coming up to speak to me when my presentation ends.
  • After the presentation, writing down notes about what went well and what I might like to improve next time.
  • Feeling satisfied with a job well done.

Just thinking about doing this imagery exercise makes me feel more confident already. The next thing I need to do is actually use this visioning exercise in the days before my talk! As they say in sports, it’s all in the follow through.

How could visioning help you reach your goals?

Find out more about Sport Imagery Training from the Association for Applied Sport Psychology.

Check out MentalHelp.net for Visualization and Guided Imagery Techniques for Stress Reduction.