SMART Dance GoalsSep 30, 2021
As Dancers, we care. We care hard. We are big dreamers and aim to be achievers. Today I am sharing with you a proven method to successful goal-setting: the SMART system. The SMART system says that goals need to be:
- Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
- Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
- Achievable (agreed, attainable).
- Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
- Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).
How Dancers can Use SMART to reach their goals:
Let’s dig in:
Your dance goal should be clear and specific. To be able to focus your efforts and be motivated to achieve it your dance goal, you need to get specific.
If your goal is to be good at fouetté turns, that’s great, but a little vague. A specific goal for your fouettés might be, "I want to gain the technique and strength in order to perform 12 consecutive fouettés with a clean finish.”
“I want to be a better turner,” isn’t a very measurable goal. What does a better turner look like? How can you measure “better?” It's important to have a measurable goal, so that you can track your progress towards it. Then you can look at the steps you’ve taken to achieve your goal and the steps you still need to take.
A measurable dance goal should address questions such as:
- How much?
- How many?
- How will I know when it is achieved?
Let’s take the goal of becoming a better turner and make it more quantifiable. Try this instead: I want to be able to do a triple pirouette to the right and a double pirouette to the left. (Double those numbers if you are hoping to get accolades on your IG reel!)
Your dance goal also needs to be realistic and attainable. I’m not telling you to dream small, but I am asking you to be realistic about your dance goal. Make it a big goal, just make sure it’s attainable.
Try answering questions such as:
- How can I accomplish this goal?
- How realistic is the goal, based on other restraints, such as body limitations, time in the studio, etc.
Yes, you might dream of going to ABT’s summer program on scholarship, but if that is currently beyond your abilities, why not try a smaller regional ballet company’s intensive? (Which you might get more personal attention at anyway!) You may need a year (or more!) to reach the lofty goal, but in the meantime you can be chipping away at progress toward that goal with an intermediary goal.
While we are on the topic, avoid setting goals that someone else has power over. For example, "Get the part of Clara in the Nutcracker!" depends on who else auditions and on the artistic director's decision. But "Put my best effort into each class so that my skills will be noticed in an audition" is entirely up to you.
With this step we are taking the time to consider if our dance goal matters to you, and that it also aligns with your 360° health and wellness. Our teachers, coaches and parents, well intentioned as they may be, may have goals for us that are not…goals that matter to US.
A relevant dance goal will say yes to these questions:
- Does this seem worthwhile? (The amount of time in the studio required to reach your goal.)
- Is this the right time? (Am I going through a growth spurt which may throw off my goal of triple turns for a month or so?)
- Is this goal truly important to me?
Your teacher might want you to compete at YAGP, but is it a goal that YOU want? It is important to remember to remember that you have choice and power. Dancers need to (respectfully) voice their opinions to people in leadership positions. It can be hard to hear our own goals in the sea of goals that others have for us.
Your dance goal needs a finish line that you are running toward! With a deadline to focus on, you can hone your talents and work ethic in to achieve your goal. Having a specific date to achieve your dance goal will help to prevent your smaller, unimportant tasks from taking priority over your big picture goals.
Let’s say we’re back to our goal from above to achieve a triple pirouette to the right and a double pirouette to the left. Why not slap a due date on that goal? If you add, “by Christmas” (it’s September when I’m writing this), that would give you 3 months to achieve your turning goal. Gaining the technique and strength to get to your goal will take time. Ask yourself, How long will it take you build my technique and strength? Do I need more training, perhaps a private lesson or tutorial from a good-turner-friend? It's important to give yourself a realistic finish line, NOT one that will set you up for failure.
Dancer, this is a proven method to successfully setting goals. Going through these steps may take a hot minute, but achieving your goals is well worth the time you will put into ensuring that your goals are SMART!
I have something for you! It’s my free Class Journaling Printable. Click below to download it – this is another fantastic tool to track your progress toward your dance goals!
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