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  • Victoria Michalowsky

A New Year for New Goals

Happy New Year!

The onset of a new year traditionally invites reflection on the past and resolutions for the future.

In reflecting upon how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted dancers all across the world, I recall virtual rehearsals, students in Zoom classes, professionals working from home, and the masked performances benefitting socially-distanced audiences. These moments are all testaments to the challenges and realities encountered in 2020, a sign of the times. Yet, these moments also remind us of the incredible resilience and creativity within the dance community, who worked together to find ways to navigate the unprecedented perils of the pandemic. These lessons that we learned in 2020 might have been born out of necessity and accompanied by no small amount of sacrifice and hardship; however, we can carry those lessons into whatever awaits in the new year.

And now with 2020 behind us, we can collectively celebrate surviving one of the most turbulent years in living memory. You did it!

In the beginning moments of 2021, you may feel compelled to set a resolution for yourself or your community. Resolutions can be approached in a very similar way to goals. For many dancers, goals can provide motivational structure, offering the direction of whatever it is they may be working towards.

If you connect with the practice of setting goals, here are a few tips or ideas that may help guide your journey.


When setting a goal, remember the acronym of smart goals: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timebound.

The first attribute of a smart goal is specificity, and this is often the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a goal; this is the part of the goal that speaks to what you are hoping to achieve, making it personal to you.

To have a measurable goal, ask yourself how you will know when you have accomplished the goal. What will you be looking for as you work toward this goal? Maybe it is the hours of training in a certain style of dance or cross-training; maybe it is the number of pirouettes you are working toward accomplishing.

Making an achievable goal is the third aspect of a smart goal. Determining how achievable a goal is requires you to be honest with yourself. This process involves self-reflection and an honest evaluation of your current reality. What possible obstacles stand in your way and how will you realistically overcome those to achieve your goal? What factors will facilitate your capacity to achieve your goal?

Another aspect to consider when developing your goal is its relevance. Especially amidst the pandemic, it is important to be cognizant of a goal’s relevance. For example, in light of the fact that most theatres are either closed or running at extremely diminished capacity, it might not be the best moment to set your hopes on performing a large group number in a crowded theatre. When determining the relevance of your goal, reflect upon how the goal relates to both your own effort, your evaluation of its worth, and its position within the broader context of your environment.

Lastly, a smart goal incorporates an element of being bound by time. Just as making a goal relevant asks you to reflect upon how the goal is situated within the world, making a goal time-bound asks you to place the goal within a certain frame or duration of time. Is this something that can be accomplished in a day? A month? A year? Use your best guess and your previous experiences to help inform how much time this goal will take to accomplish. Rather than a strict deadline, use the time-bound nature of the goal as a guideline. It’s okay if you need a little more time. Maybe needing a little longer to complete a goal helps give you an indication of what is occupying your time and allows you to reevaluate how you can prioritize your time in the future.

It can also be informative to reflect upon whether you gravitate toward goals that are outcome-oriented or mastery-oriented. Outcome-oriented goals tend to be motivated by extrinsic factors and attribute individual successes to aptitude. In other words, an outcome-oriented goal may focus on external measures of so-called success: a lead role, a compliment from a teacher, or a higher grade. On the other hand, mastery-oriented goals emphasize individual hard work, attributing success to individual effort and intrinsic motivation. A mastery-oriented goal facilitates an environment where mistakes enhance learning and effort leads to further alignment with personal values. Another way to think about these types of goals is through the dichotomy of product and process. Ask yourself what you are working toward, what you are valuing: is it about achieving a certain product or experiencing an enriching process? Then ask yourself, why.

Most of all, in developing your goal, tap into your intuition and your innate sense of what you can achieve. Some smaller goals may be more appropriate as items on a to-do list, while other goals may actually involve many steps, gradually developed over time.

Whatever your goal is, let BodyKinect support you. We can be there for you, either virtually or in-person, to offer research-based perspectives about performance enhancement, psychological skills training, and holistic wellbeing for dancers.

Reach out to us with any questions or just to initiate a conversation about whatever interests you! We want to hear about goals you are working towards in the coming year!

Keep Kinected,

Victoria


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