Testing and future pacing are the means in NLP by which we verify that the changes we make today will project forward with us into our future and thus ensure that useful and context appropriate resources are available to us when we need them.
When we've used NLP to do some change work either on ourselves or with other people it's good practice to verify the effectiveness and longevity of our work. We do this in the following two ways:-
Put simply, we test the work we've done to ensure that we get the results that we expected.
In the swish pattern example we would test by thinking about the problem state/behaviour or, if we are working with someone else, by asking them to think about the problem state / behaviour.
If the person who had done the swish found that thinking about the problem state / behaviour caused them to rapidly and automatically switch to thinking about the desired state / behaviour then we could usefully accept that the result of our test was positive and that the swish had yielded the desired outcome.
If we test and find that we don't get the expected results we could repeat the process (in this case by repeating the swish pattern) and test again.
If after repeating the process a number of times we still don't get the desired results what should we do? The answer is simple - if what you are doing isn't working, do something else.
If you are certain that you've set a well formed outcome and you have enough sensory acuity to know from the feedback you receive that you are not getting the desired results, then ANYTHING ELSE has a better chance of succeeding than what you've been doing so far. Apply the five principles for success and utilise your behavioural flexibility to find some other way of getting your desired result.
Your choices here may include doing the same NLP technique differently, switching to a different NLP technique or something else. Remember the law of requisite variety?
2. Future pacing
Successful testing enables us to immediately test and verify that the NLP technique we've used has produced the desired result(s).
A successful test does not necessarily mean that the desired result(s) will carry forward and continue to appear in our behaviour automatically in appropriate contexts in our future. This is where future pacing enters the equation.
Future pacing could be usefully compared to rehearsal for the unconscious mind.
Future pacing the earlier swish pattern is as simple as asking the person to imagine a particular time and context at some time in their future where their natural response would have been the old state / behaviour.
Get them to fully associate into that future scenario, visually, kinesthetically, auditorily - 'As you step forward to that future time now, step into your body, see what you would see, hear the sounds around you and feel the feelings of really being there'.
Once they are associated into the future experience test that their response to it is the desired state / behaviour from the swish pattern.
Have them repeat this process two or three times, each time stepping into some different future time where their desired outcome is to have the desired state / behaviour replace the old problem state / behaviour.
If you get the desired results the future pace is complete - simple as that!
The future pacing process should help to ensure that the seeds of achievement you plant today continue to bear fruit into the future.