Monday, April 2, 2012
Spring: A Time for Fresh Goals in Dance and Life
Spring is here, and it’s time for a fresh start. What better way than to set fresh goals? For dancers, goals can be anything from nailing a new "trick", to perfecting a technique, to getting a role, or advancing in class levels. In life, creating goals is a process that requires much thought and motivation. In your life, work and relationships, it is not only an opportunity to take a closer, more in-depth look, into what you want to achieve, but even more,goals require constant attention and action.
To borrow a concept from the business world, a dancer's goals or any life goals should be "SMART" - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time framed.
GOAL SETTING TIPS
1. Your goals should reflect your dreams, values and passions.
2. Identify goals that you truly want to accomplish (not what you think will sound good to others).
3. Goal setting is for you. Share it only with family or friends you know will be supportive and encouraging.
4. You can have as many goals as you want.
5. Goals should be specific and measurable so you will know when you accomplish them.
6. Dreams and goals should be reviewed often.
7. Dreams and goals may change so adjust them over time.
8. The secret to accomplishing your goals is to write them down and review often.
The Specific Purpose of the Goal
First, your goals should be specific. This means, rather than saying "I want to get better at pirouettes," start your goal with "I want to achieve a clean, triple pirouette." By using specific terms (clean, triple), the goal becomes something tangible. Simply saying you want to get better at something does not constitute a goal, since getting better is objective and isn't easily determined to be achieved.
Setting goals helps keep life in balance, but one really important question to ask yourself is: Why do I want to make this my goal? Goals create momentum and when achieved, they give us a great sense of accomplishment. However, not all goals are good goals. The selection process in goal setting is an important one. A goal is good if it is the right fit. Finding the reasons behind the goals is just as important as creating the goal itself. In his book,"How Do I Set Goals That Work?"Tim Brownson suggests that intrinsic motivation is better for goal setting than extrinsic. Finding what is important and what will bring a greater sense of joy rather than what other people expect. Tim mentions the following as being good reasons for setting goals: "I want to leave a legacy, I want the world to be a better place for me having been here, I want to set a great example for my kids, I want to be able to leave my 9 to 5 job to spend more time with my family, and lastly I want to align with my own core values. These are all great reasons to set a goal." To get a clearer sense of what you hope to obtain from goal setting, make a list of the values that are important to you. This will set the stage for goal setting.
In the example above, a triple pirouette is measurable Losing 10 pounds is measurable. Saving $5 a month so that you can purchase a certain dress or pair of shoes is measurable. Having a set goal that you can measure in steps makes it easier to achieve.
Achievable and Realistic Goals
Your goals should be achievable and realistic, in that they should coincide with your abilities and current class levels. If you're a dance beginner, set a goal to master one of the new skills you are learning, such as a time step in tap or a tendu sequence in ballet. Don't try to aim for unrealistic goals outside of your skill and level range. It is better to set a goal that you can realistically achieve, but one that will take hard work and determination in order to reach.
For life goals, Robert Choat suggests. "Once you have the end in mind, then plan backwards."An important rule in goal setting is to make goals that can be reached as well as important to you. It is great to dream big, but if that seems too daunting, try to set smaller goals that are achievable. For long-term goals, use the system of breaking them down into smaller steps to make them more achievable. Being able to reach a goal is a huge accomplishment that can give great satisfaction. However, don't be afraid to make mistakes along the way. Mistakes can be great catalysts for finding a new way of thinking. They can help reveal answers that weren't present before. Tim Brownson said, "“The surest way to fail is to adopt the belief that it isn’t ok to fail.” Failing and taking risks is a part of life and goal setting.
Time Framed Goals And One at a Time
The final component of your goal is a time frame. For example, you could say "I want to achieve a clean, triple pirouette by April 1st," or "I want to achieve a clean, triple pirouette before my summer intensive audition." This goal is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time framed. It gives a specific end date, and puts a timeline on your preparation.
Write down your goal in a place that you can refer to it often. It can be in a journal, in a notebook where you take notes for classes or write down choreography, on a piece of paper tucked into your dance bag, or on the mirror in your bedroom where you get ready for dance class. This will help you to keep sight of your goal or goals as you go through the dance season.
In life, set time frames. Be aware of the time and effort it will take to reach a specific objective, and include this in the description of the goal.
A long-term checklist is a great tool for keeping goals in perspective and keeping efforts moderate and realistic. Work on accomplishing major objectives in a realistic time period, and ensure that each goal gets the amount of attention it needs to be reached successfully. Check off each step that you complete to reach your ultimate goal.
When you achieve your long-term goal, you can set one for the next year. It is important not to get discouraged if you do not meet your goal in the time frame you set. Examine the goal again, and determine how to make it better. Maybe you need a longer time frame, or maybe you need to adjust your expectations a bit. Either way, discussing your goals with your instructor can help you to make sure your goals fit the SMART criteria, and press you to work hard during the dance season.
Review your goal(s) After you have decided on your goal and written it down, tell your teachers and classmates. This helps you to be accountable for your goals, but it also gives you a support system. If you are working on a particular technique or step, your teacher can give you pointers and guide you to achieve it.
Be careful not to overload yourself with numerous goals. Set at least 2 goals for yourself: something you want to achieve by the end of the year (or end of the dance season, or at your annual recital), and then set a goal that you want to achieve in the next 1-2 months. Once you achieve your short-term goal, you can set another one and continue to update your goals every month.
In life, review a plan for reaching a goal every so often. See if the plan is on schedule, or if the plan needs to be reevaluated to take new situations into account. Looking at the steps of a plan can alert individuals to any problems in the plan, as well as any areas of a plan that have been neglected.
Choose a small reward for each completed step of a goal, such as a spa day, a trip to the movies or a fancy dinner. Rewards are a great tool for keeping motivation strong and improve the odds of successfully reaching an goal.
Setting and reaching goals can be a big challenge for many people. However, ensuring that goals are reasonable, well planned and specific can make the challenge manageable. Know what skills are needed and reward each success along the way to help make reaching any goal easier.
As you continue your journey with goal setting use this visualization exercise provided by Tim Brownson, "Sit in your favorite chair and take several deep breaths. Make sure the exhale is about 50% longer than the inhale and allow yourself to relax, When you are well chilled really imagine with all your senses. the more you visualize success, the more progress you will make.
Preparing for Setbacks
Small failures, roadblocks and setbacks are part of working on a goal. Errors and delays are common and can be frustrating for individuals. However, anticipating setbacks and coming up with alternate plans can help individuals deal with achievement problems. For example, prepare for a week of vacation by planning meals in advance to avoid over-eating when trying to lose weight.
Avoid feeling as though a temporary failure or setback makes any goal unreachable. Roadblocks on the path to reaching a goal can test an individual’s resilience, creativity and ability to cope with disappointment; learning these skills can also help individuals as they strive to reach other objectives in the future.
Overall, goals can lead to many great things in your llife as a dancer, in relationships, at school. etc. More importantly, these great things are set in motion by you.
Brownson, Tim, "How Do I Set Goals That Work?"
Choat, Robert, "New Year's Resolutions Are Simply an Illusion and What Really Works"