Have you ever made plans for the year ahead, only to discover that a few months (or even weeks!) down the line you’ve started moving in a totally different direction than intended? “Begin like you mean to go on” is a mantra most entrepreneurs and business people know, but how do you actually manage to do that in a world that seems to move so quickly, and where we’re all constantly multitasking in order to try and keep up with everyday life?
For the past 3 weeks I’ve been sharing some of my best insights on how to work with goal setting, staying motivated and how to use the internet to develop your dancing, and today I’m sharing 3 practical tips that can help make a big difference when planning your year ahead. Even if you aren’t into goal setting.
I’ve personally spent a lot of time planning and writing plans, only to find them again a year later at the bottom of a pile of paperwork – still just as out of reach! I therefore love practical tips that can help me stay on track and I hope these will be of help to you too.
Now, you may think setting a lot of time aside to write lists is counter productive, as you could have done a lot of work in the meantime, but there’s several reasons why it pays off to plan ahead, and on a regular basis revise those plans…
Some may think this sounds too scary, but think of it as your road map for where you want to end up at the end of the year, or whenever your deadline is. If you’re a dance teacher you may have a big end of year show that you’re working towards, or you may want to increase the amount of students that you have by x%. If you’re a performer you may have a big show that you’re working towards, or aim to increase the amount of gigs that you do on a monthly basis. Write your end goal(s) down as precisely as possible and then look at what measures you have to take when in order to achieve it/them.
Break it down into chunks to make it more manageable. I like to work in quarters, so break my goals into 3-4 big milestones, and if I feel it is needed I create some smaller ones along the way. Once you’ve done this, it should be easy to see exactly what you need to have done when, and most importantly, what steps you need to take to stay on track. This is also where it will become evident whether you actually have the time and resource to achieve what you’ve set out to do. If not, then go back and revise. There is no point in setting up an unmanageable plan that will stress you out 2 weeks down the line.
I’m quite an impatient person and therefore love short deadlines, but alongside my annual goals I’m also working towards a bigger 5 year plan. That way I feel it gives me more motivation, as I can see what a big result I’m actually working towards, and what a big difference even my smaller quarterly milestones make.
If you’re a dancer, you’re likely to be a very visual thinker, but even if you’re not, this trick can really help keep you on track. At the beginning of each year I take a big A3 calendar and start planning out the weeks with my different projects and holidays. I use colourful post-it notes (coordinated by colour because I’m sad and love that kind of thing!) to help give me an easy overview. I always plan in ‘spare time’ too, because things will happen that throws you off course; from a bad stint of the flu to a friend needing your help and support at the last minute. I place this somewhere I see it on a daily basis, but more importantly, I also break down this bigger picture into monthly chunks, which I then use to work from. For example, I create my workshop and class schedule on the back of this, and then break it down into topics, choreographies, playlists, lesson plans etc.
Finally, because I’m such a visual person, I like to use images as subconscious reminders too. It can be a beautiful picture of the place I want to go on holiday with my family, the costume I want to have, a place I want to perform or even just images that create a certain feeling that I’m aiming for, and I use these alongside my annual plan, on my phone and computer, and I even have one by my mirror, so that I see it several times a day, and am reminded of where I want to go and what I’m working towards.
There is no point in planning and creating visual reminders, if you’re not actually doing anything to move yourself closer to your goal. For people like me, who spend way too much time thinking about things instead of doing them, this is the hardest part! I often procrastinate by tidying up, doing laundry, yes even cleaning (and I hate cleaning!). So I take my planning a step further and often write daily reminders, so I don’t lose track of what needs doing. With the invention of the smart phone this means a lot less messy notes around my house, and little reminders on my phone instead, that can be added to and amended when needed. In return, there is less temptation for me to start cleaning and tidying up, because there’s already a lot less mess 😉
Your daily actions will depend on you and your planning. There should of cause always be room in your schedule to do last minute things, such as attending a workshop or seeing a show, but before you drop everything to do so, consider how these will fit into your overall planning. Will the workshop let you work on elements that you know you need? Or are you just attending because everyone else is? Will the show inspire you, or are you just going because it’s on? Pausing to consider the bigger picture like this may also help you save money, so it can keep both you and your bank balance on track.
If one of your goals is to work more on specific technique and take your dancing to the next level, then you should consider my new Advance Your Dance Online Course, which starts in a few weeks time. It’s an interactive and personalised course, but run online, so you save money and time whilst learning when it suits you. It’s based on my live Advance Your Dance courses, which have seem my students progress rapidly and developed their technique, stage presence, improvisation and choreography skills. Now that I’ve worked out how to run this course online without loosing the highly personal approach and quality, it will be run as a 5 week intensive. But there are limited spaces only, and once full, I’m not likely to run this again until next year. Read more and register here.
I hope you’ve found this article useful and that you can keep on track with your goals and planning for the months to come. Please use the comments below to let me know how you’re getting on, or join my Mastermind Facebook group, to share your goals and receive motivation and inspiration to keep you focussed. May your year ahead be filled with lots of beautiful and happy dancing 😉
Did you miss my last post? Read it here: Developing your dance online