A wise person once said, “That which can be measured can be changed.” I’m sure there are things that all of us would like to change or improve on in our dancing, ourselves, our lives. Let’s take two examples of things you might want to work on in your dancing: fitness level and knowledge. How do we accomplish those changes or improvements? Well, in order to know where you want to go, you first have to look at where you are. Evaluating your current skill level is important in the process of being able to set a goal of where you’d like to be. In the context of our two examples, that would, for fitness, be something like keeping track of the number of steps you take or calories you burn during regular activity over a given period of time, or, for knowledge expansion, listing every dance you know, and the steps that you know for each one.
The second step is actually setting your goals. It’s important to note that when you set goals, they need to be SMART – that is, specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. (To further understand these criteria, click here) Say your fitness level is what you want to improve on in your dancing; you’ll probably want to set a goal to increase your activity. If you dance three times a week for one hour each, perhaps you would make a goal to increase that to four times a week four an hour and a half each. Or, if you know five moves in each of four different dances and want to expand your repertoire, your goal might be to increase that to six dances and six patterns each. You’ll also want to set a deadline to achieve them by, whether it be a week or a year. Committing to a deadline helps focus your efforts on completing the goal, rather than getting caught up in the day-to-day crises that invariably arise in your life.
Tracking your progress will help that as well: you could, for example, wear a heart/calorie/step monitor to give you numbers to measure for your fitness, and you could keep a running log of what steps or techniques you’re learning in which dances, and when you’re studying them. Tracking does two things: it makes you accountable to your goals, and it shows the progress you’re making. If you set a goal for one month, check up on yourself every week; for three months, once every month. Progress checks will let you know that you’re on track to achieving your goals, and will remind you of the work ahead.
Once you’ve reached your deadline, hopefully you’ve achieved your goal, or at least made significant progress in the right direction. Regardless, celebrate! You should always reward yourself for the improvements that you’re making and the work you’ve put in to get there!