Visualisation or mental rehearsal is a technique used widely in sports. Yet, its scientifically confirmed benefits can also be applied to the performing arts too. Actors can definitely use it to help visualise their acting goals. We might call it ‘dreaming’ and by itself dreams don’t help, they remain just that - hopes, wishes or dreams.
Visualising the future doesn’t work by itself. Seeing yourself up there on the stage with that golden statuette in your hand will not help by itself. Researchers have found that it actually makes most people stop fighting so hard for their goal. So for some people visualisation is demotivating.
To make visualisation work, I would suggest a couple of things:
Visualise what you want to achieve in the future in as much detail as possible.
See yourself achieving what you want to achieve, that performance, that award.
Now imagine life without it. Imagine what it means not to achieve your goals. Imagine what people say, imagine how you feel without it. That’s stoking the fire in you. That’s putting more motivation into you.
Now use the same imagination you used to visualise the outcome to imagine what will stop you. Pick a few things. Imagine the obstacles. Not getting a good agent for instance. Imagine that. Stuck putting yourself up for low paid, low level student films forever.
Next imagine yourself overcoming those obstacles, what did you do to get that good agent? Imagine your solutions. See them. See yourself taking the action required to get them. Try lots of different things, let your imagination run wild.
Open your eyes.
Now you’ve imagined not only the pleasure of the achievement of your goal, but also the pain of not achieving it, the potential obstacles that might get in your way and some of the strategies you might employ to overcome those obstacles. The power of your imagination has been put to work, not only to idly revel in your imaginary achievement, but to deal with the matter at hand in a practical way.
Want to know the TWELVE main reasons why actors don’t achieve their dreams?
I’ve written a short eBook called The Twelve Obstacles that will help you recognise those things that are stopping you achieving your acting goals - and give valuable advice on how to overcome them. It’s FREE TO DOWNLOAD HERE.
To You, The Best
Mark Westbrook is the Senior Acting Coach at Acting Coach Scotland and a specialist in applying performance psychology tools and techniques for actors.