Planning - Planning
to Manage Distractions
So far, we have looked at a range of tools
that help you to prepare for stressful events.
We have shown you how to reduce
uncertainty and rehearse
properly for the event. We have also
looked at Thought
Awareness, Rational Thinking and Positive
Thinking, so that you can manage the
fears, anxieties and negative thoughts that
you might have about the event.
For small events, this might be all that
is needed to give an excellent performance.
For big events, it is worth preparing a
Performance Plan. This is a pre-prepared
plan that helps you to deal effectively
with any problems or distractions that may
occur, and perform in a positive and focused
frame of mind.
Using the Tool:
To prepare your Performance Plan, begin
by making a list all of the things that
you need to do from starting to prepare
for a performance through to its conclusion.
Start far enough in advance to sort out
any equipment problems. List all of the
physical and mental steps that you need
to take to:
- Prepare and check your equipment, and
repair or replace it where it does not
- Make travel arrangements;
- Pack your equipment and luggage;
- Travel to the site of your performance;
- Set up equipment;
- Wait and prepare for your performance;
- Deliver your performance.
And think through whether there's anything
else you need to do to prepare for the performance.
Next, work through each of these steps:
- Everything that could reasonably go
wrong at each step with equipment and
- Any distractions and negative thinking
that could undermine your confidence or
stop you having a positive, focused frame
of mind at the start of and during your
Work through all of the things that could
go wrong and look at the likelihood of the
problem occurring. Many of the things you
have listed may be extremely unlikely. You
can often strike these out and ignore them
from your planning.
Then look at each of the remaining contingencies.
These will normally fall into three categories:
- Things you can eliminate by appropriate
preparation, including making back-up
arrangements and acquiring appropriate
additional or spare equipment;
- Things you can manage by avoiding unnecessary
- Things you can manage with a pre-prepared
action or with an appropriate stress management
For example, if you are depending on using
a data projector for a presentation, you
can arrange for a back up projector to be
available, purchase a replacement bulb,
and/or print off paper copies of the presentation
in case all else fails.
You can leave earlier than strictly necessary
so that you have time for serious travel
delays. You can also think through appropriate
alternatives if your travel plans are disrupted.
If you are forced to wait before your event
in an uncomfortable or unsuitably distracting
place, prepare the relaxation techniques
you can use to keep a calm, positive frame
of mind. Research all of the information
you will need to take the appropriate actions
quickly, and ensure that you have the appropriate
Also, prepare the positive thinking you
will use to counter fears and negative thoughts
both before the event and during it. Use
anticipation skills we have already
looked at to ensure that you are properly
prepared to manage stress. Then use thought
awareness, rational thinking and positive
thinking techniques to prepare the positive
thoughts that you will use to protect and
build your confidence.
Write your plan down on paper in a form
that is easy to read and easy to refer to.
Keep it with you as you prepare for, and
deliver, your performance. Refer to it whenever
you need it in the time leading up to the
event, and during it.
In his excellent book “Fight
Your Fear and Win”, Don
Greene discusses a useful routine
for recovering from an error in your
performance. This helps you to restore
the focus and self-confidence that
you need to perform well. To use the
routine follow these steps after making
the mistake: Do not criticize
yourself for it. The mistake is
now in the past, and there is nothing
you can do about it.
- Focus on the
present: Worrying about
the past will not help.
- Relax: Breathe
deeply and use appropriate relaxation
techniques to calm down.
- Focus on normal
good performance: If you
try to compensate for the mistake
with an excellent performance, you
will over-stress yourself, and this
will break your flow again…
Build this into your Performance
Plan and use it when you need to within
Your Fear and Win” is full
of similar techniques, and we strongly
recommend it for people interested
in sport and performance psychology.
Tool reproduced with
the permission of Dr Don Greene.
Performance Plans help you to prepare for
an important performance. They bring together
practical contingency planning with mental
preparation to ensure that you are fully
prepared to handle any situations and eventualities
that may realistically occur.
This gives you the confidence that comes
from knowing you are as well prepared for
an event as is practically possible to be.
It helps to ensure that you deliver your
performance in a relaxed, positive and focused
frame of mind, whatever problems or upsets
may have occurred.
article helps you learn to avoid stress
in the future...