How to Prepare For a Big Moment at Work
Though it might not always feel like it, the pressure we feel at work may be a positive thing because it pushes us to perform. Whether you’re gearing up for an interview, presentation, or big meeting, preparation is key to performing well under pressure.
Written by:Jackie Barker
Though it might not always feel like it, the pressure we feel at work may be a positive thing because it pushes us to perform. Now, that doesn’t mean we should walk blindly into a pressing situation and expect to do well. Whether you’re gearing up for an interview, presentation, or big meeting, preparation is the key to performing well under pressure.
To prepare effectively, it’s about working smarter, not harder. There are three important things to focus on: setting the right kinds of goals, visualizing good and bad scenarios, and staying both calm and motivated.
Set Process and Outcome Goals
Any big moment is crucial, but how you prepare for it is just as pivotal. Some people believe it’s the journey that matters, not the outcome. At Meddlers, we believe it’s about the journey and destination. Don’t lose sight of either!
Try to set a healthy balance of process goals and outcome goals with the knowledge that both are important. But what exactly are the process and outcome goals? Simply put, process goals are the steps you need to take (and fulfill) to ultimately achieve an outcome goal.
Examples of process goals: Learn all you can on a subject, share your passion for a project, stay focused and productive.
Examples of outcome goals: Land the promotion, secure X amount of funding, secure a signed contract.
You may think these goals are implicit – obviously, you want to do well. But in the process of considering and reflecting on your goals, you encode them into your long-term memory and can access them more readily.
Visualize the Good and Bad
It takes more than a positive attitude to find success. That said, visualizing the desired results can be a great form of motivation. Imagine that feeling of accomplishment and allow yourself to experience all the positive emotions associated with it. But don’t stop there.
Just as important, you should take the time to visualize the negative possibilities – the potential challenges that stand in your way. As neuroscientist Daniel Levitin says, “We all are going to fail now and then. The idea is to think ahead to what those failures might be.” It’s not about perseverating, but preparing yourself to handle an issue.
Vividly imagine every scenario, good and bad, and feel the emotion that’s attached. In this way, you can better regulate your emotional response to conflict. Studies indicate that this kind of mental rehearsal leads to better performance. In an article for Forbes, writer Mark Murphy claims, “By repeatedly facing threatening situations under calm and controlled emotional conditions, we learn to respond in desired ways, free of threat.”
Writing things down is another good way to store them in your memory. According to Murphy, “Vividly describing your goals in written form is strongly associated with goal success, and people who very vividly describe or picture their goals are anywhere from 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to successfully accomplish their goals than people who don’t.”
Stay Calm. Stay Motivated.
During a stressful situation, your brain releases cortisol, which inhibits your ability to think logically. To prevent this, you must maintain a calm and rational mind. But don’t confuse calmness for apathy. Motivation and passion are essential if you want to perform at your peak. Remember, it’s not a contradiction – to be both calm and motivated. You can be cool, calm, collected, and care deeply.
Tactics to stay calm:
- Inhale slowly for five seconds, hold it, then exhale slowly for five. Repeat this exercise at least five times. Don’t worry if your timing isn’t exactly right. The point is to make you more mindful of your breathing.
- Take ownership of your emotions. Recognize that the situation didn’t create your nervousness – you did, meaning you have the power to change those same emotions.
- Relabel your emotions. If you take “stage fright” and label it as “excitement,” you increase your confidence, and in turn, improve your performance.
Tactics to stay passionate and motivated:
- Set clear goals (process goals). Checking things off a list keeps you engaged and gives you momentum. Sometimes the simple act of moving forward is most difficult.
- Celebrate big and small accomplishments. As you check things off your list, give yourself credit, whether that be in the form of a reward or positive self-talk.
Prep with Meddlers
When you effectively prepare for life’s big moments and manage your emotions, you and your team are more likely to experience success. At Meddlers, we believe the right team in the right roles with a clear plan will go a long way. Contact us today to talk about your goals!