Overcome Test Anxiety & Improve Problem Solving with the Walt Disney Strategy

Have you ever felt stuck when trying to solve a problem or navigate through academic challenges? Creativity often serves as the key to unlocking innovative solutions and achieving your goals. In the realm of problem-solving, the Walt Disney Strategy by Robert Dilts stands out as a powerful and versatile technique. It draws inspiration from the creative process that Walt Disney himself employed to turn dreams into reality.


As an academic coach working closely with students, I’ve witnessed the transformative impact of this approach firsthand. Whether implemented in-person or by equipping students with the knowledge to apply it themselves, the results are remarkable. In fact, even the simple act of providing students with the tools to implement this strategy, sometimes with the assistance of their parents or teachers, has proven to be a catalyst for creative problem-solving.


In this blog, not only will you discover the inner workings of this strategy, but you’ll also learn how to apply it for yourself or your student.

Ready to embark on a journey of creative problem-solving? Let’s dive in.


What are Walt Disney’s Three Personalities?

Based on my experience working with students, it’s fascinating to observe how each student can readily identify with at least one of Walt Disney’s personalities. Upon closer examination, it often becomes apparent that many students embody not just one but possibly two or even all three of these personas.

What are these personas, you may wonder?

Walt Disney, a master of creativity, was known for personifying three distinct characters:

  • the Dreamer
  • the Realist
  • the Critic


The Dreamer dared to dream without bounds, envisioning limitless possibilities.

The Realist, on the other hand, meticulously crafted plans, turning dreams into tangible reality.

Meanwhile, the Critic played a pivotal role in evaluating and refining the ideas generated by both the Dreamer and the Realist.


Now, the intriguing question arises: which of these personas do you resonate with? Or perhaps, are you a dynamic blend of all three?



The Walt Disney Planning Process

As a student, you’ll encounter a myriad of challenges, often tied to overwhelming and diverse projects. The learning journey diverges from the linear structure of high school. Let’s explore how it works.

To weave academic magic, embrace the Disney Planning Process, harmonizing all three personalities in a structured approach.

1. Dreamer Phase: Imagining Possibilities

To practically implement the Disney Planning Process, grab a notepad—no filter needed. Start by accessing your inner Dreamer. Envision your goals without judgment. Take a break, change your physical position, and immerse yourself in a mindset free from constraints.


Academic Pro Tip: Why change physical position? 🤔

Changing your physical position serves as a practical technique to shift your mindset. It helps break away from the routine and encourages a fresh perspective. This physical change can stimulate new ideas, enhance creativity, and promote a more open and imaginative thinking process. It’s a simple yet effective way to break free from mental constraints and invite a renewed sense of inspiration and creativity into your problem-solving or planning process.

2. Realist Phase: Planning and Execution

When transitioning to the Realist, you should actively engage in meticulous planning. Break down academic goals into actionable steps, prioritize tasks based on importance and deadlines, and critically evaluate each element to ensure alignment with the overall academic strategy. Actively seek practical ways to turn imaginative ideas into concrete plans during this phase.


3. Critic Phase: Constructive Evaluation

As you step into the Critic phase, take on the role of a thoughtful evaluator. Assess your plan with a discerning eye, recognizing both its strengths and weaknesses. This critical evaluation is not about pointing out flaws but rather identifying areas for improvement. Transform your critiques into constructive questions aimed at the Dreamer within you.

Ask yourself how the plan can be refined, what potential challenges may arise, and what alternative approaches could enhance its effectiveness. This constructive dialogue with your inner Dreamer will further enrich your overall strategy, fostering continuous improvement and adaptability.



Interactive Exercise: Confronting Test Anxiety

I’ve observed significant success using the Walt Disney strategy, particularly in easing test anxiety. This versatile approach extends to various anxieties, though, making it extremely valuable to people of all kinds of ages.


Transitioning to a common challenge, let’s apply this strategy to test anxiety for now. Here it goes:


1. Dreamer: Visualizing Success

Imagine overcoming test anxiety without judgment. Picture yourself succeeding. Break the state by thinking of your favorite animal.

2. Realist: Planning Step by Step

Transition to the Realist. Outline the steps needed to conquer test anxiety. Break the state by thinking about the color of your front door.

3. Critic: Constructive Evaluation

Shift to the Critic. Critique the plan objectively. Break the state by recalling your last meal. This serves as a psychological interruption, introducing a momentary distraction.


Academic Pro Tip: Why think of your last meal? 🤔

This break helps individuals disengage from the previous mindset, creating a mental reset before entering the Critic phase. To facilitate this shift, break the state by recalling an unrelated detail, such as the last meal or even something else, like the color of the door in the house you grew up in.

How to use the Walt Disney Method  

Cycle through each state, addressing questions and refining the plan. By acknowledging and embracing the Dreamer, Realist, and Critic within, students can act as their own coaches, overcoming academic challenges with creativity and strategic planning.

How to help my Child or Student using the Walt Disney Strategy?

As a parent or coach, actively support and guide your student through the steps. Overcoming test anxiety requires navigating between personalities multiple times until effectively addressing the issue. This dynamic process emphasizes the iterative nature of the strategy, showcasing the need for several rounds of engagement with the Dreamer, Realist, and Critic to reach a solution.



My Experience with the Walt Disney Method in Academic Coaching

Navigating the transition from high school to higher education with the Walt Disney Method has revealed both triumphs and challenges in my academic coaching journey. Students seamlessly shift between the Dreamer, Realist, and Critic roles. The Dreamer phase sparks creativity sans judgment, while the Realist phase resonates with meticulous planners.

However, challenges surface as students grapple with balancing these roles. Some struggle to transition from imaginative dreaming to practical planning, and resistance may arise during the Critic phase, where constructive evaluation appears daunting. Addressing these challenges entails fostering smooth role transitions and emphasizing the constructive nature of criticism. Despite hurdles, the method proves transformative, empowering students to act as their own coaches, enhancing adaptability and academic success.


Why is Walt Disney always a Win?

Despite the challenges, implementing the Walt Disney Method has proven highly beneficial in empowering students to act as their own coaches. By navigating through the three roles and refining their ideas collaboratively, students develop a holistic approach to problem-solving, enhancing their academic success and adaptability.


Walt Disney Strategy for Creativity and Academic Excellence

The Walt Disney Strategy, with its dynamic blend of creativity and practicality, emerges as a powerful guide for students navigating the intricacies of academic transitions. My role as an academic coach underscores the transformative impact, fostering creativity, resilience, and a proactive mindset in students embarking on their higher education journey.


Ready for more guidance in applying the Walt Disney Method?

Building on the success of this strategy in nurturing creativity and problem-solving, I’d like to introduce the innovative online course tailored to guide students through a comprehensive academic journey.

This course unfolds a spectrum of learning strategies employed in academic coaching globally, preparing students for higher education anywhere.

Enrolling in this online course offers students flexibility, granting access to valuable insights and strategies anytime, anywhere. Beyond the Walt Disney Method, the course explores critical facets of academic development, encompassing

  • time and organization management
  • motivational strategies & teens‘ mental health, and
  • effective test preparation.

These universal strategies are applicable to students worldwide, ensuring robust preparedness for the challenges of higher education.


Why is this important for you?

Taking a holistic approach, the course extends beyond academic skills, weaving in elements of positive outlook and mental health. Its goal is to shape well-rounded individuals prepared to thrive in the diverse landscapes of colleges and universities.

Join me on this transformative academic journey, where empowerment and excellence intertwine seamlessly.


Watch my video explaining Walt Disney and other advanced strategies to beat test anxiety:


Hope that helped! 😊 These and other academic study tricks you will find in my easy-to-access online courses for schools and students!  

Alexandra Allover


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More support for students

If you are looking for more academic support, I can offer you access to the academic coaching course for students and teachers. Check out this offer for schools if you want to find out how to apply proven learning strategies, techniques to boost motivation and valuable test preparation skills.


Support for parents: Teens’ mental health 

If you are looking for support regarding your child‘s mental health and want to improve your relationship with them, I want to suggest one of my free resources: the DIY Coaching Kit

By learning more about proven coaching strategies of the parent-child dynamics and the psychology behind it, you‘ll be able to act like a life coach for your own child without them even knowing 😉