Whether it’s for business, a big game, a performance date, exam, or even a poker game, your first question before an important event (if you really want to perform your best) should be, am I prepared?
If the answer is “NO,” then the next question should be, “What do I need to do to prepare?”
Here are eight essential keys of preparation to help ensure you perform your best when it matters. Note: Each helps to ensure that you are confident, relaxed and focused (the key traits of a “zone” or peak performance experience).
#1: Plan. Devise a plan, and know your desired outcome and purpose — what is the WHY behind the goal? What is the end goal, and what does the performance look like? Can you visualize an excellent outcome?
#2: Concentrate: By definition concentration means to collect energy. If you really want to perform as well as you can, gather the requisite information. Find the best articles, posts, books, podcasts, people (coaches), videos, lessons, classes, etc., and lay a foundation of knowledge.
#3: Model: What models and experts are there who have already achieved the desired outcome, or are coming close? What tips, tricks, tools and skills do they have? What is their model for success?
#4: Tools: Beyond the expert him/herself, what tools are being used? Is there an app, software or computing device? Is there a particular piece of clothing that is critical to the performer/performance?
#5: Practice. Practice. Practice: It’s essential to refine the skills and habits necessary for any performance and to rehearse at game-speed and beyond (link) using all 3 levels of practice (path to habituation).
# 6: Be well: Rest and eat well. Preparation goes far beyond the act itself. The performance can only be as good as the performer (mind and body). Are you well rested? Are you eating right? Is your head in a “good” place? Here again, reading and knowledge-gathering help to ensure a positive disposition.
#7: Visualize: Finally, before any performance, run through the performance in your head (visually); try not to rush through this. Is there an opening script that can set things off on a smooth path? Use your visualization to identify strategies and tactics in case things go in a different direction. Can you anticipate what and how you will react – can you see it?
#8: Time: Perhaps the greatest resource of all – and the sooner you can get busy preparing, the better the likelihood of great success.
Bonus, Additional Tips:
Depending on the amount of time you have to prepare, tracking the key behaviors and skills required to develop the supportive habits (free tracking template here) is essential.
Perform a “premortem”: (also mentioned in previous post) Can you see how the performance/event might go sideways? Can you identify 2-3 things that ought to demand extra attention and energy to ensure they go as planned?
Have you reviewed “game film” – any prior performance?
Have you enlisted a coach or a mentor?
Do you have a “game-day” checklist?