A question I receive often in my local scene, hear “dance nerding” it out with other people, and read online is often, “How do I get better at x?”. Variable x can be anything from dancing in general, to a particular type of dance, competition, and et cetera.

Goal setting is an effective tool to address these issues. This way instead of feeling like you are stumbling around in a general direction, you have a specific route you are taking to make progress.

Goals: How to effectively set them

Now you could have a generic goal of being “The best Lindy Hopper evah!”, however it is more realistic and effective to have a goal such as: I plan to become an amazing Lindy Hopper by attending three nationally recognized events in the United States and go social dancing at least three times a week this year.

A useful mnemonic featured at mindtools.com is SMART.

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Also quoted from mindtools are these useful tips,

  • State each goal as a positive statement: Express your goals positively – ‘Execute this technique well’ is a much better goal than ‘Don’t make this stupid mistake.’
  • Be precise: Set a precise goal, putting in dates, times and amounts so that you can measure achievement. If you do this, you will know exactly when you have achieved the goal, and can take complete satisfaction from having achieved it.
  • Set priorities: When you have several goals, give each a priority. This helps you to avoid feeling overwhelmed by having too many goals, and helps to direct your attention to the most important ones.
  • Write goals down: This crystallizes them and gives them more force.
  • Keep operational goals small: Keep the low-level goals you are working towards small and achievable. If a goal is too large, then it can seem that you are not making progress towards it. Keeping goals small and incremental gives more opportunities for reward.
  • Set performance goals, not outcome goals: You should take care to set goals over which you have as much control as possible. It can be quite dispiriting to fail to achieve a personal goal for reasons beyond your control! In business, these could be bad business environments or unexpected effects of government policy. In sport, these reasons could include poor judging, bad weather, injury, or just plain bad luck. If you base your goals on personal performance, then you can keep control over the achievement of your goals and draw satisfaction from them.
  • Set realistic goals: It is important to set goals that you can achieve. All sorts of people (employers, parents, media, society) can set unrealistic goals for you. They will often do this in ignorance of your own desires and ambitions. Alternatively you may set goals that are too high, because you may not appreciate either the obstacles in the way or understand quite how much skill you need to develop to achieve a particular level of performance.

We have a new year coming up, so for your New Year’s resolutions why not tack on some swing dance related goals?

P.S.: My goal for this year was to learn the Big Apple, the California Routine, and the Tranky Doo. Just have to clean up the second half of the Big Apple and clean up my Tranky Doo

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