Establishing Dance Goals
Ballroom Dancing, just like any other art, takes persistence and dedication. In order to be at your personal best, you have to consistently challenge yourself to become a better person and dancer. One of the best ways to do so is to establish S.M.A.R.T.E.R. short, medium, and long-term goals for yourself. But where do you start?
Your goal needs to be clear, unambiguous, and concrete. Start asking yourself questions about what you want and how you plan on getting there. It’s not specific enough to say, “I want to be a good dancer,” because even the top professionals want to improve. What does being good mean to you? List out as many specific attributes of good dancing and dancers that you can think of. Personality on the dancefloor, technical ability, floor craft, simply going and participating in your first competitions are great places to start.
Your goal needs to be tangible and measurable! Many people who set dance goals say that they “want to feel confident and comfortable on the dance floor.” How is that measurable? Unfortunately, while our emotions are a huge part of our dance journey, when setting a goal it is best to leave our emotions out of the final goal decision because they are not objectively obtainable. You should be able to achieve your dance goal regardless of whether you felt amazing or felt terrible! Instead of saying, I want to feel good on the dance floor, challenge yourself to dance your entire routine without stopping. It turns your focus away from how you felt to what you’ve actually accomplished. After all, sometimes you can make the goal and still not feel good about it, and sometimes you can fail and feel wonderful.
Set goals just out of your reach so that they are not too easy or too hard. This is your opportunity to set short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals. Your long-term goal should be your ideal so that you are always able to make the connection to what you really want. However, your short and medium-term goals should always be just challenging enough that you must work at it. Oftentimes, goals are too easy and don’t motivate us, and sometimes they are too difficult and discourage us.
Let’s say that you want to win Blackpool as your long-term goal. You might be taking your first lesson, but who wouldn’t want to win it? What do you need to do today, in a month, a year, and ten years to achieve that goal? These are the specific steps you need to take to help yourself improve. Your long-term goal (and yes, I’m saying goal instead of a dream!) is to inspire you beyond what you currently think is capable. However, your short-term goals are to ground you in the present moment so that you can learn the skills and attitudes needed to grow.
Choose a goal, both long-term and short-term, that has meaning. Your goal should inspire you every day when you wake up to be the best that you can be. In order to do this, it needs to have purpose and meaning for yourself. Determine how dance fits into your world, and identify some things you can learn on your dance journey.
Since oftentimes we don’t even know what makes dance important, ask your instructor for advice. They have seen and helped many people on their own journeys and would love to partner on a new adventure with you.
Your goal needs to have a specific target date that you hold yourself accountable towards. Usually this part of your goal-making process involves the question, “When?” Determine what will be done six months, a year, or even ten years from now.
The goal you set should be respectful of your partner and your own emotions. Especially in the ballroom world, we get too wrapped up in what needs to be done that we forget to be sensitive to our partner’s needs or our own. Make sure that when you set your goal, you are on the same page as people around you so that they can support you.
Being emotionally aware also means that you can anticipate and accept some of the ups and downs you will encounter in setting that goal. For example, if you choose something exceptionally challenging, make sure that you are willing to exhibit determination and diligence!
Finally, make sure your goal is realistic. Realistic is different than attainable because attainable means that your goal is just out of your reach, and realistic means that you are in the position, whether financially or physically, to achieve that goal. For example, you might want to make your development the best possible, but that doesn’t mean you’re able to do the splits!