Imagine the warm sun on your face, the sound of waves gently crashing on the sand, the water just touching your feet as the tide comes in and out as you lounge in your new beach chair, the ocean breeze bringing that refreshing smell only it can.
Decisions are made this way. No, not you sitting in such a serene place thinking and deciding on where you will have lunch. I’m talking about the imagination part of the exercise above.
Each of us makes a decision to do or not do something twice. First, we have to imagine ourselves doing or not doing that thing we are contemplating. Most of us make this decision on pure emotion when we should be using our intellect and reason.
Benjamin Franklin and St. Ignatius of Loyola had good exercises for making important decisions. I went over their decision making processes in a video you can watch HERE.
For a decision to actually come, you must first imagine yourself doing it. For those of us with over-active imaginations, we can’t stop thinking about it. This can be both a good and bad thing. If we get stuck in imagination mode, we might never take action. We might get stuck in information overload: paralysis by analysis.
For those who don’t take the time to imagine at least some of the possible outcomes of their decision, we might miss an important point and implement a bad decision.
I think it was Socrates who mentioned that virtue is in the middle ground with almost everything. This holds true for decision making.
I tend to be the fire, ready, aim guy. My wife is a good balance for me since she tends to be the more pragmatic type. I usually regret when I don’t consult her on an important decision.
Here are two points I want you to take away now that you know how decisions are really made:
- There are some activities that you have been doing that are telling you “I can’t see myself doing that.” If an activity is keeping you from starting or taking your therapy practice to the next level, you need to START “seeing yourself doing that.” For me, it used to be public speaking. I knew that I could make an impact on my business if I could create a short presentation for daycares to help them understand how to address behaviors of kids, especially those with autism. Here’s a tip: take that thing you can’t imagine yourself doing and start imagining yourself doing it. Also, imagine yourself doing it well. Roll that over in your imagination. This is not a one-and-done exercise. Do it everyday.
- There are people right now thinking “I could never see myself going to that therapist (you) because of…” You need to be addressing their “because of…” Help them imagine themselves receiving therapy from you. Explain and demonstrate to them how that will feel. Remember when I said people make decisions based on feelings more than they do reason? You could say to them something like, “Imagine what it will feel like when your grandkids come over and you are able to pick them up and play ball with them.” Or, you could say, “Imagine how your children will feel when they go to school and they have the confidence to answer a question the teacher asks in class.” You can think of all kinds of “imagine if” scenarios. Also, use your clients’ words. Do you ask your clients why they came to see you? What they want to work on and accomplish? I have those questions on my intake paperwork. The phrases your clients use to those questions are marketing gold!
I have one last thought on helping potential clients with their decision making. Use testimonials of past clients.
Pose a few questions to a past client, such as:
- “How did you feel about therapy when you first came to see us?”
- “How did that feeling change or increase after therapy?”
- “What did you imagine therapy was going to be like before you came to see us?”
- “How was therapy different from what you imagined?”
Our imagination is a powerful tool for good or bad. If you can’t see in your mind’s eye yourself doing something, then you’re not going to do it. The same is true for your potential clients.
It’s your job to paint the picture and tell the story that will make you and them say, “I could totally see myself doing that!”
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