What is Future Pacing?
Future pacing is one of the most powerful and useful NLP techniques. We ask our clients to imagine themselves in a situation in the future where they are able to easily access a state or a series of states, and/or a strategy that will enable them to achieve the very best result both for themselves and anyone they’re working with.
Future Pacing Applications
Note: When we’re associated, we’re rehearsing as ourselves and are fully aware of and influenced by our feelings. When we’re dissociated, we’re rehearsing as an observer, and our freedom from our feelings, and we can fully access our logical thinking.
There are many uses of future pacing:
- Testing our work. At the end of a coaching session, if the client can easily imagine completing a specific behaviour at a specific time in the future and feels good while doing it, they are highly likely to both do the action and do it well at the appropriate time.
- To improve our (or our client’s) mental state at a specific time in the future. Mentally rehearsing the states we (or the client) want to access in the future and anchoring those states to that time and place will significantly improve both how we feel and the impression we create.
- We can coach ourselves (and/or our clients) to improve how we perform in any situation; in this case, we imagine that we’re watching ourselves from the position of an observer and thinking about what we could do to improve what we do. We can anchor this change by replaying the movie from an associated perspective.
- In situations where we haven’t done something before, we may be naturally slightly nervous. Playing through what we want to happen several times will give us the experience of whatever it is, which in turn will significantly improve our comfort and confidence when we come to carry out the activity.
Examples of Using Future Pacing
Planning a business meeting
To prepare for future pacing of a business meeting, it can be helpful to answer these questions first:
- Who will be at the meeting? What state(s) are they likely to be in at the beginning of the meeting?
- What state(s) would I like them to be in at the end of the meeting?
- What’s something small I would like them to do at the end of the meeting? (Small does not mean unimportant, it may be small and essential, such as signing a contract)
- What’s the very best way I can end the meeting in these three situations: 1) all have gone well, 2) I haven’t got a view on how it’s gone, and 3) it’s gone wrong? (This may sound counterproductive, but rehearsing what we’ll do however the meeting goes is exceptionally empowering.)
- What are the critical milestones in guiding the meeting from the start to a successful outcome?
Planning for an athletics race
To prepare for an athletics race, it can be helpful to ask these questions first:
- What state(s) will be best for me at the start of the race?
- To achieve the time I want, what time do I need at the 25% point, 50% point, 75% point and to finish the race?
- What strategy do I follow if, at these critical points, I am (a) winning, (b) just winning, (c) in the top 3? (d) middle of the field, (e) last? What do I say to myself in each situation? What tone of voice do I use? What pace? What do I see? What do I feel?
- What do I do at the end of the race? If I’ve (a) Beaten my expectation? (b) done as planned? (c) Not done as well as planned? What will I say to myself? How do I want to feel? What will I focus upon?
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