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Behavioural change top tip: visualise how you want to be

April 6, 2010

I’ve recently been working with highly academic/scientific delegates to develop their capability in creative thinking and facilitation.  This has been a really interesting journey, which has reminded me  about how knowing about something doesn’t necessarily mean we can do it.     I can think about many things I am knowledgable about and can talk about what to do and how to do it. However the challenge is to actually do it.  Clients often report ‘I feel uncomfortable’, ‘it’s not my natural style’, ‘I’m concerned as to what others might think if I change the way I do things’ and I also experience these thoughts and feelings.  These are normal anxieties when we come to changing how we do things.

So when you start out changing how you do or think about something, it is normal to feel that it is ‘uncomfortable’ or ‘un-natural’.  However the more we practice, (and we do need to practice, practice, practice!)  the new behaviour the sooner it will become automatic and you will feel more comfortable and with time it will feel like your natural style. 

There are tools and techniques available that help us to practice and learn new behaviours. One powerful technique is to practice visualising yourself doing the new behaviour how you would like to do it, and to keep refining and practising your visualisation.  This can be done from both the video/observer perspective of watching yourself and/or through being in your own body, and experiencing what you are seeing, thinking, feeling, hearing and doing.  Remember also to include visualising the impact you are having on others around you.  Done well this will really help you improve how you do things when it comes to real life, whether that is a  business, sport, performing arts or personal life situation.


  • Aled Davies says:

    An aspect of what you’re describing is the diference between an espoused theory and theroy in-use, I think. I came across this when trying to change my approach to facilitating groups; I would say one thing and advocate a particular practice, yet do the other when under pressure without even being conciously aware of it. Visualising my reaction to these future events helped me try out different approaches in my mind before playing them out in reality.



    • thanks for the input. Yes, when under pressure we tend to revert to type – what is automatic and comfortable for us, and yet not always the most effective! Using ‘what if’ scenarios of future events and visualising how you will successfullly deal with them is a really powerful tool to helping create behavioural change.
      all the best


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