I'm due to speak in roughly 15 minutes. I notice that I left my jacket in the room where they told us it was safe to leave our stuff. I kinda want my purse too - I'm a little addicted to lip balm. So, with not many minutes to go, and only the vaguest idea where the "safe room to stash your stuff" is, I set out. It's a university campus, and all of the buildings look the same. I am not sure I can even find the right building OR the one I am meant to speak in. Somehow, I open a door and things look familiar. I rush to grab my jacket and my bag, smearing lip balm on my lips as I trot out to find my way back to the auditorium. "Why did I do this? Why did I leave my stuff here, when I know I am like one of those grandmas who wouldn't go anywhere without their handbag on their lap?" I check my watch. They are likely calling my name and wondering where I am. Oh great, the organizer who can't get here on time! I see someone sitting in their car and I beg them to drive me to the auditorium. He does. He seems nice. I jump out of the car and sprint inside just in time to hear that they've put the conference equivalent of a "commercial break" on in order to grant me time. I wake up.
Yep, that was a dream. Sorry I had to do that to you! In the moment, I thought it was really happening. I recall feeling shocked that I wasn't more prepared, AND that I got into a car with a stranger. Being unprepared combined with running late will make you do crazy things. And, had I gone up on that stage, my face and voice would likely have told the audience that I wasn't having a super great day.
How can we change these things? Is there a way to do everything in our power to make sure that we are prepped and feeling confident for our day? Below I've got a couple of ideas that may help.
1) Know your stuff - if you are interviewing for a job, practice answering interview questions with your friend or partner. If it's a presentation or you are asking for a raise, practice out loud multiple times. Record yourself on your phone and listen back. Engaging different parts of your brain helps with memorization too. If you know your sales pitch like the back of your hand, you're not as likely to be thrown off balance if the unexpected happens. And it always does.
2) Prep your gear the night before - Before a big event, or a family road trip or even seeing a client, I like to pack my car the night before (most of my client days, hubs does it for me). I double-check that I have everything I need and go ahead and put it into the car. Choose your clothing, pack your lunch, set up the coffeemaker, pack your Go Bag - whatever it takes. That way, the next morning is calmer and more peaceful.
3) Meditate or Pray - when it's a big day (or even a normal day), take time in the morning to breathe, check where your thoughts are, and pray or meditate. I sometimes use a gratitude journal (The Five Minute Journal, available in the Apple store is incredible). It helps to take my focus off of myself and all those little things that don't matter and put it onto something more worthwhile.
4) Take some time to Play - I get into trouble if I take myself too seriously. I need time to rest and relax and play. It could be talking with a member of my family or a friend. Or having a delicious, healthy meal - anything that is fun and enjoyable. I find that if I take my mind off of my big day coming up and engage in something else, my brain has space to keep working in the background on the "big day stuff".
Even though my above example was only a dream (thank God!), we all still have big days to prepare for. It's equally as important to have your gear packed up and ready to go as it is to get your head into the right space. I'm rooting for you and wishing you the absolute best in the coming months. Let me know in the comments if this has helped you deal with your big days.