Goal setting is defined as 'the act of selecting a target or objective you wish to achieve'. In dance, goal setting can be a great way to motivate yourself and personally keep track of your progress in class and performance. This can be especially helpful during the pandemic as it can be easy to feel unmotivated with the stressors of the 'new normal'. Below are some steps and tips to create attainable goals in relation to dance, but these steps can be applied to many different facets of life!
- Assess your overall performance (in class, on stage, technique, artistry, effort etc.) - Do you keep hearing the same correction over and over from your teacher? Do you feel there are areas in which you could put in additional effort? Are there new things you want to learn and achieve? These are all questions to ask yourself when trying to assess your performance. If you are unsure, you can always ask your teacher for their input as well.
- Set one or two realistic long term goals - Ballet is hard enough as it is, and setting unrealistic goals can be downright disappointing and unmotivating. It's important to accurately assess your abilities and understand what is attainable for YOU. Sometimes we can get a little over-the-top with our long term goals. For example, "I want to be a world famous ballet dancer with one of the top companies in the world" may be reaching just a little bit. It's fun to dream, and perhaps one day, that dream may very well come true, but that would take an immense amount of effort and time. Setting a long term goal of achieving consistent triple pirouettes once you have mastered doubles is an example of a long term goal that is more attainable and something to work towards in the span of a year for example.
- Set many small, short term goals - Setting long term goals before setting short term goals can be helpful as we can think about what smaller things we can work towards that will support our long term goal. If your long term goal is to achieve good ballon in grand allegro, creating a short term goal of improving your grand battements over the course of a month or two could be helpful in your efforts with your long term goal.
- Create an action plan and try to stick to it - Think about the best course of action to help you achieve your new goals. Think about what you need to do in the studio and at home. Depending on the goal, you may be able to work on it outside of class time. If your goal is to achieve your front splits, working on it at home is very easy and can help you achieve your goal sooner than if you just practised them twice a week during your ballet class. However, don't let yourself become unmovtivated if you are not seeing results as quickly as you would like. Keep at it and remember, slow and steady wins the race.
- Reassess - Short term goals can be evaluated after a shorter time frame than a long term goal - every month versus every year for example. Reassessing your progress can be helpful in keeping yourself accountable but also in recognising all the hard work you put in and what you have achieved. Be proud of yourself and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small! If you have mastered a short term goal, add a new one to keep moving forward towards your long term goal and your overall improvement.
Now that you've read how to set attainable goals for yourself in dance, try it out for yourself! There is always room for improvement so that we continue to work towards becoming the best versions of ourselves. Doing so intelligently and with realistic standards can keep us motivated and allow us to stay positive in the process!