Being prepared — whether it is for a date, a presentation or the future — will allow you to show off your best assets and help you feel safe.
If you prepare, although you may not remember every trick in the book, you’ve probably read about them at some point, so you already have many of the answers in your head.
No, you can’t constantly be ready for everything that life throws at you. But by getting into the habit of preparing, you create a backlog of emotional building blocks that you’ll be able to use later. Trust me on this one please, there is no wasted effort here. Whatever you are preparing for today, even if you don’t use it tomorrow, you will in the future.
Preparing emotionally is as important as preparing mentally and physically. The best way I have found is to visualize, by imagining in your mind’s eye what it is you are about to do. If it’s taking a test, see yourself passing it. If it’s giving a speech, see the audience nodding their heads and applauding (perhaps even laughing at your jokes).
This technique of positive visualization (sometimes called guided imagery) is used with cancer patients, and I’m sure it will make you feel more prepared. It will also help you succeed at the task in front of you.
Mental preparation requires that you have some familiarity with or have the ability to learn about what you need to do.
They say men never bother to read instructions. While that may have been the case before the technology revolution, it’s not true these days. Life is way too complicated. You have to at least look at the manual before you try and hook up that new video game system.
Common-sense preparation, like making a mental or written checklist before you begin a project, old or new, is only going to make whatever you take on easier. It will also help you think of things you may have missed, and you won’t be wondering what the leftover parts are for.
Making a checklist might be a little over the top if you are just going out for dinner and a movie, but it can be immensely helpful when you are doing something as simple as going to the market. I wouldn’t know what to do without to-do lists. They may be our single greatest aid when it comes to getting things done and staying on track.
If required, taking safety precautions can also be a great preparation technique. When you carefully organize your gear as you get ready to climb the Matterhorn, you mentally practice using it. As you tee up your ball (and look around to make sure you’re not about to pulverize your boss with your Big Bertha driver), you are also preparing yourself to make a great shot.
Preparation is your friend, and it’s not nearly as painful as you thought.
Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., is an award-winning therapist and humanitarian. He is also a columnist, the author of seven books and a blogger for PsychologyToday.com with nearly 27 million readers. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.