A new year often means lots of resolutions – and a few weeks later shattered dreams and exhausted people. I for one love new beginnings, and the new year is a great symbolic time of year to review past efforts and set up some new goals or milestones for yourself.
Goal setting for dancers isn’t necessary different to any other way of setting goals, but it’s the area where I’ve got the most experience and success, hence the title of this article…
I started writing my ‘dance related’ goals down back in 2009, when I finished my bellydance teacher training. After 2 years I’d achieved what I thought was quite big dreams, and the pure joy and excitement it brought me when I reviewed my goals and could tick them off my list, inspired me to continue to write down and review my personal and dance related goals on a regular basis. I’m still using the process outlined below and to date it has helped me achieve most of my goals and I hope it will help and inspire you too!
So how do you set goals and most importantly, how do you make sure that you achieve them?
Nearly everything in your life today is the way it is because you chose it. Your work, your hobbies (of which dancing may be one), your friends, your possessions, your memories, and to some degree also your health and personal fitness. All are a culmination of choices you’ve made, both consciously and unconsciously. If you dream of being happier, wiser, a technically better dancer or having a flat stomach, then remember that you can be or have all this, but it helps to set some goals to make these desires a reality. Without goals circumstances and other people are more likely to influence our lives.
Determining your goals is the first and often hardest bit, especially if you want to work on big life changing goals. That’s why it can be useful to just focus on a few aspects of your life to start with, and depending on how much dance fills your life, this might be a great place to start.
Ask yourself what you’d change if time and money wasn’t an option. You can do this for various areas of your life, or you can focus on dancing. In general, try not to change too many things at once, but work on the areas that really bug you the most, or where you feel least satisfied.
Envy can be a powerful way to determinde what you’d like to do or have. If you feel jealous, it’s your unconscious talking to you. Perhaps you envy people who appear to perform with joy and no nerves at haflas and other events? Maybe you wish you were part of a big stage production? Or maybe you find yourself envying dancers who have clear technique and good isolation, because it really shows of the moves? Ask yourself, what you’d do if you couldn’t fail? Then write down 2-3 things or areas of your life that you’d like to change.
You will need to know exactly what you want in order to get it. If you are to vague or afraid to ask for a specific outcome, then that’s also what you’ll get. Be clear and write it down in one sentence. For example: “I will perform an improvised solo at a local hafla and feel great doing it” or “I want to perform as part of a big successful dance production in London.”
Always make sure that your goals are positive. “I will start attending a yogo class alongside my dance class every week” is better than “I will stop being such a couch potato and become a strong dancer”.
For inspiration on how to train more effectively check out my article here.
Goals need to be SMART: specific (see previous point), Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. So ask yourself what success looks like to you. Enjoying to perform is hard to measure, but you will know if you’ve signed up for a show and how you’ll approach the performance. How much time you invest into the preparation will help determind whether you enjoy it or not. If you’re suffering from stagefright, then you may want to work with a coach like me beforehand to help overcome it.
Read my article on stage fright here.
For some setting big goals help them get out of bed in the morning and work hard. For other mere mortals, including myself, it’s more productive to set achievable goals that you can then build on to move forwards. I’m only 5 foot with a short torso, so I know that I will never look like Sadie when I dance, so I won’t aim to look or dance like her. I’m also way too lazy to work on a six pack. I know it’s there underneath my skin somewhere, and I can feel it when I dance, but I ‘ll never have it on show. So some moves will look less defined on me compared to others. The time and effort I had to put in to achieve a six pack is simply more than I’m willing to. Although it is achievable, I prioritise my time and efforts differently. Instead I’ve put a lot of time and effort into overcoming a non-dance related shoulder injury that I’ve had. It’s brought me a lot of joy to have the flow and full mobility of my shoulder left, even though it’s taken me over a year to get there.
Your goals must be under your control and something you can influence by your actions. You can’t determind whether someone will ask you to perform at their show, but you can contact them and ask if you could get a part. And as mentioned above, although you can shape up and strengthen your physic, you can’t change the structure of your body.
Setting your goals to high and you’re likely to fail, setting them to small and you won’t be inspired to achieve them. Experiment by constantly upgrading your goals, and progress should inspire you to accelerate your achievements towards even bigger goals.
Everything is possible, but without a deadline nothing is likely to happen. Again, be realistic and look at the progress to achieving your goals. If you’ve only just started dancing, then you aren’t likely to be a professional dancer within a year or even two. How much time have you got to realistically work towards and achieve your deadline? Will you need to manage your time differently or will you need to give yourself more time to get there? If so, can you set some milestones along the way to keep you on track and inspired?
Since becoming a mother I’ve certainly had to review my timeframes, and juggle things around. I’ve also discovered that I need to prioritise differently and outsource a lot more things, but I’m planning this in to achieve my goals.
Once you’ve set your goals (dance related or not) it’s time to start the journey towards them.
Happy goal setting and dancing!
Did you miss my last post? Read it here: How to advance your 3 step turns