Every Irish dancer wants to be a good dancer. Being a SMART Irish dancer is even more important and will help you dance in a much better way. Here’s how.
I’m a goal-centered person. I like setting a goal, making a list of action items, working my butt off, and achieving the goal. I had assumed that most people are similar to me, especially in the Irish dancing community. Guess what? Not everyone loves a list to cross off and not everyone has a goal in mind when it comes to their dancing. Not everyone has an idea of what “success” looks like for them.
When talking to other dancers I found that most wanted to learn a step or dance, but that was as far as the goal went. They didn’t really have an idea formed in their mind of what the goal was. They didn’t define the goal. I think a lot of dancers skip that step; defining their goals. Really, how can you obtain any kind of success if you don’t know exactly what your goals are?
In my experience, there are just two simple keys to successful goal setting. And this works for any goal, not just goals concerning Irish dancing.
You need to examine why you’re dancing/whatever it is you’re doing.
You need to discover which SMART goals will help you achieve success.
If I asked you why you dance, what would you say?
“I dance because I’m passionate about Irish culture and tradition and want to share that with others.”
“I dance because I really enjoy a competitive atmosphere and want to win.”
“I dance because I dream about being able to dance in a big Irish dance show.”
“I dance because I have a fun time and enjoy being around others.”
The fact is this: WHY you dance is just as important as WHAT you want to accomplish.
I’ll repeat that just to make sure I’m getting the point across.
WHY you dance is just as important as WHAT you want to accomplish.
The goals you set must be simpatico with your purpose for dancing. If you’re setting goals all willy-nilly that aren’t related to your true purpose, you won’t “feel” like you’re successful. Even if you knock your goal outta the park.
Take a minute and write down the reasons you dance. Any and every reason you can think of. Even the narcissistic ones. I’ll wait.
So there it is in black and white. Your purpose for dancing. Now let’s get to why you’re reading this post and talk about what really makes a good goal.
The SMART acronym first appeared in the November 1981 issue of Management Review. Yes, that was ages ago.
“There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management goals and objectives.” was the title and it was written by George Doran, Arthur Miller, and James Cunningham. Originally intended for business, it’s a standard for goal setting today. It’s still being used because it works. And works well.
SMART goals give you specific guidelines for determining what you want to accomplish, in a way you’ll be able to track going forward. SMART goals are pure magic in the way they motivate you. They also help you cut out all of those activities that don’t help you meet your goals.
The acronym SMART stands for:
S – Specific. Decide on one thing you want to improve. Just one. “I want to be a better dancer” isn’t specific enough. What does “better” mean? How do you measure “better”? Be more specific. “I want every beat in my hard shoes to sound identical.” That’s specific.
M – Measurable. You have to be able to measure results. What will you see, hear, or feel when you have achieved your specific goal?
A – Achievable. Can I really achieve this goal? Be honest with yourself. It’s hard, but you can do it! Toe walks aren’t realistic if you haven’t even started dancing in hard shoes yet. Be real.
R – Relevant. This is where you really get into your purpose for dancing. The goal you set has to be in line and worthwhile when you think of your purpose. If your purpose is simply to share a cultural experience with others, maybe it isn’t worth your time and energy to practice 8 hours a day 4 days a week. If your goal is a place on the podium, maybe that’s just what you need. Think relevance.
T – Time-based. When will you do an evaluation of the results? Give yourself a set amount of time in which to accomplish the goal. Make it realistic. You’re not going to start as a new dancer in September and be Ciara Sexton or Michael Flatley by Christmas. But you might learn some new choreography in a month. When your time period is over, do a serious re-evaluation. What worked? Why did it work? What didn’t work? Why didn’t it work?
So, after all that, what would a SMART goal look like?
“I want to learn [insert dance here] to performance standard in two months.”
“I want to practice my clicks four times next week.”
SMART dancers are much stronger dancers. SMART dancers can overcome obstacles where other dancers might throw in the towel, because they’re consciously working on specifics. They know where they’re going and they have a plan to get there. So become a SMART dancer, starting today.
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SMART GOALS WORKSHEET
And let me know in the comments:
What is your purpose for dancing? What is your SMART goal?
I’m just itching to know what other dancers are working on!