Encouraging the client to imagine completing the first small step towards achieving their goal can make it much easier for them to start their journey.
The surprising power of mental rehearsal
Mental rehearsal is an important part of improving results. It enables us to increase the likelihood that we’ll carry out an action at the appropriate time, feel better about it, and at the same time improve the effectiveness of that action.
It’s worth remembering that we can improve our ‘physical’ strength by imagining that we’re lifting heavy weights. The same applies to life goals. The art is to rehearse the potentially difficult parts, for example, making difficult decisions, challenging phone calls and meetings that would appear to be difficult.
This is particularly useful when we’re starting something new, doing something important or something which might be difficult.
Two approaches to mental rehearsal
There are basically two different approaches:
- The first is when we’re associated, and we’re rehearsing the states we would like to put ourselves in.
- The second is when we’re disassociated, and we’re looking to improve our strategy or the steps we’re taking.
As an example, if we want to rehearse our states for a meeting we could sit comfortably for a few moments. While we’re sitting we reflect on which states would be useful to be able to access during the meeting, for example being curious, respectful and determined. We could imagine ourselves triggering those states as we walk into the meeting. We then review the meeting in our mind by imagining it as a movie and think through anything we could improve for the actual meeting.
When we’ve finished the exercise we review frame, objectives, agenda and how we interact. If we want to explore significant changes we can replay the exercise using the changes we’ve made.
I’ve found that this exercise sets us up to access both better states and better strategies during the meeting.
When we’re working with clients and we want to ‘test’ our work and see whether the client will take the action we’ve agreed upon, we can ask them to imagine themselves behaving in a useful way with the right people, in an appropriate state.
Then we ask : “How did that go?”
We then ask: “Between 0 (no chance) and 10 (certain chance) are you committed enough to do the activity?”
If the answer is less than a 10, we say : “That’s good, now how could you improve it to a 10?”
- Ask your client to – in any way that is comfortable to them – imagine taking the first step on the journey towards their goal.
- If they’re unable to enjoyably imagine taking the first step, ask them what’s stopping them.
- If they’re able to do this ask them to give a score between 0 and 10 as to how whether they are actually going to do it. If they come up with a score less than a 10 ask them what they would do to improve it.
- I find I get more honest answers with this question than by simply asking if they are going to do it.
This video explains how mental rehearsal can make achieving a goal much easier.
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Full NLP Techniques List
NLP Coaching Section Index
1: NLP Coaching Introduction
2: Success system and model
3: NLP coaching model
4: Beginning frame
5: States and anchors
6: End goals and direction
8: Where are you
9: Getting to there
10: Mental rehearsal
11: End frame
13: CEO and executive coaching follow up