Practice, Prepare, Perform—Then What?

After a big performance or competition, performers can feel a little let down because what they have been striving for is completed.   Rather than move right on to the next goal, why not stop and assess?  After a major recital, competition, or audition is an excellent time for performers to check in with how they are doing.  If you’re thinking, I thought that’s what the performance or competition tells me, you’re partly right.  However, serious performers need to take time to reflect on their performing—time to assess whether the strategies they are currently using are allowing them the most growth or do they need to adjust or address various issues or challenges for future growth.   Post-performance is prime learning, refining, and growing time.

When reflecting on your performing, be sure to address the key mental skills that enable you to perform freely, easily, and expressively.  These include attitude, goal setting, motivation, commitment, focus, self-talk, imagery, emotional control, courage, trust, and acceptance.  To jump-start your assessment, start by answering the following questions about your recent performance, competition, or audition:

  1. What was my mindset in preparing for and performing?  Am I focused on learning and improving or am I focused more on winning and proving myself or impressing others?  check out:   What Motivates You Scale
  2. Am I in the habit of setting goals that are focused on my growth as a performer or goals that focus on the outcome of my performances?  Performance Anxiety and Supreme Goals
  3. Am I really committed to sacrificing and doing whatever it takes to reach my goals?  check out:  Focus On What You Can Control
  4. Do I maintain focus on what is within my control—my effort, effective practice and preparation strategies, good planning, and seeking help when I need it—or does my focus drift to uncontrollables such as what others are thinking, how I compare to others, and whether I am impressing others?  check out:  Focus for Peak Performing 
  5. Do I regularly encourage and affirm myself when I am practicing and preparing for a performance or do I let my doubts take over my thinking?   check out:  The ABCs of Self-Talk  and Your Self-Talk—Friend or Foe?
  6. Have I been using imagery or mental rehearsal—vividly visualizing (intensely seeing, hearing, feeling in real time) my practice and performing prior to my performances to help keep me calm or to increase my intensity? check out:  Mental Rehearsal Can Work for You, Pt. 1 and Mental Rehearsal Can Work for You, Pt. 2
  7. When I start to feel anxious or fearful, do I embrace this feeling as excitement and readiness to perform or do I let it overtake me and cause me to doubt myself and my skills?
  8. Do I consciously direct my will to overcome doubt and fear?  check out:  Take Control of Your Confidence
  9. Do I usually rely on my preparation and shut off the practicing, critical voice while I am performing?  check out:  What About Your Inner Game?
  10. Am I able to accept my performances without regard to “right” or “wrong” and afterwards determine what went well and what I need to attend to in order to improve?

The answers to these post-performance questions will give you a world of information and feedback that you need about yourself and your performing in order to take stock and determine the important next steps in your journey.  When performers compete or audition, it can so often be all about the destination—the outcome.  When we remind ourselves that our performing is a lifelong journey, we can keep these performances in perspective.


Want to learn more about how to develop your own unique pre-performance routine and the most effective mindset?  Then, check out The Relaxed Musician Program:  Mental Preparation for Confident Performances, A 14-Day Plan   Download Day 1 workbook and audio to see how the program can work for you.  With purchase, you will receive 2 great bonuses—Your Pre-Performance Checklist and the e-book, Letting Go of the Need to be Perfect!


Print Friendly


  1. Dear Dr. Allan

    After my acceptance in a master degree,I feel that I am in a wrong direction again, Due to the competitive environment in the University so I must be conscious about the bad result that I will face again. Really I don`t like to experience that kind of fear and trouble that I had before.Something interesting is that I tired hard to overcome performance obstacles and I was successful But now I think I am going to a wrong direction again! I must work on it strongly and seriously to solve this problem for ever . I am sure I can if I want !!

    • Dr. Diana Allan says:

      Dear Simin,

      Feeling fearful—especially when it negatively affects our performances—is not only disappointing and tiring, but it takes all the joy out of our performing as well. I am interested to hear how you were able to successfully “overcome your performance obstacles” and what has changed in the meantime. Remember, that some of the obstacles we experience such as anxiety, fear, need to perform perfectly, worrying about what others are thinking are obstacles that are based on limiting beliefs that didn’t pop up overnight and will take consistent, continuous effort to overcome. Work on building effective mental performance strategies—reminding yourself of the reasons you can strongly believe in yourself and your abilities, practice focusing on your process, practice turning off your critical voice, and practice trusting your preparation by letting go of the need to consciously control being correct—on a daily basis and see if you start to feel improvement in your performing “muscles.” Keep in touch!


  2. Thanks for your response,

    I told you before about my-self that I study psychology for two years to solve my problem. I sent you an abstract about my research and my questioner and you gave me your opinion. the title of my research was:
    *The effective factors on a successful performance*

    I overcome performance obstacles by repetition the logical thinking and by watching performers in a different situation and their reaction to other people. and also by speaking with other students about the similar experience in performance condition. I just repeat and repeat all you teach in your article because I exactly experienced what you say about wrong belief and all things you talk about. It was my occupation so I tried to solve it, and I was successful in one of my important entrance exam and if you remember I sent you an email and I reported it with a lot of pleasure!
    I am familiar with you more than one years ,I am following your article and they are so helpful.

Leave a Reply to simin Cancel reply