January is the perfect time for setting goals, but February is a great time for checking in and making sure that you’re following the goals that you’ve set for yourself. Even though it’s probably mid-season for most people, it’s still a great opportunity for a fresh start. The key sticking to your resolutions is to make goals that challenge you but are also realistically attainable. For example, if you want to be able to execute 3 pirouettes on pointe, consider your starting level. Can you do already consistent double pirouettes, and with proper technique? If you are currently doing single pirouettes, it is in your best interest to reach for two before three. You need to assess if you have the proper foundation to execute your goal. A realistic goal would to be to properly execute pirouettes with correct technique, excluding a numerical value. Of course it’s nice to do multiple pirouettes, but improving your quality of movement is also something to consider rather than just quantity.
When I considered what I wanted to improve upon in this new year, I thought about all of the things that are directly in my control. It is disappointing when you set a goal for yourself that you ultimately can’t reach due to outside variables. That being said, there are many things that I know I can personally improve upon. I like to consider all aspects of my life: Professional (ballet), Family and Friends, Health and Fitness, School, and Mental Health.
Due to the nature of my job as a professional ballet dancer, I’m never satisfied with my work. I could write a whole article on all of the technical aspects of the way I work that I would like to improve. A goal that I’ve set for the New Year is to not be so hard on myself and just believe in my abilities. I perform better when I have confidence, which is difficult to acquire when I’m so hard on myself all of the time. Being constantly criticized all day can really get to you, but that doesn’t mean that you need to participate in that culture. There’s a saying that “you are your own worst critic,” but that doesn’t have to be the case. It is literally a ballet master’s or teacher’s job to correct your mistakes in order to make the final product better, but it’s not your job. I need to remember that they chose to hire me for a reason, so I just need to work hard and do my job.
For my personal life, I would like to stay in better contact with friends. I have friends dancing in companies all over the world and in all different time zones, so it’s difficult to stay in touch. However, it’s so rewarding in the end. Just a simple text to update each other on our lives will suffice. Also, I would like to make an effort to make it home to see my family in Chicago more often. I always have so much going on, and it’s difficult and expensive to get home, but family is the most important thing to me.
In terms of physical health, I need to drink more water. Drinking adequate water has innumerable health benefits. Being in the altitude in Colorado makes this especially imperative. The lack of oxygen hinders your muscle recovery and dehydrates you. My goal is to drink 3 liters of water daily. Additionally, I would like to develop a cross-training routine specified to my areas of weakness and stick to it.
Being a part time online college student while dancing full time serves a unique challenge. However, I studied while training my entire life before becoming a professional, so it’s really no different. With proper time management, it is definitely possible. I have devised a system of allotting at least 2 hours devoted to schoolwork throughout the day. I also can catch up on the weekends. Nevertheless, I find myself completely unmotivated to do schoolwork on my days off. It’s ridiculous because that is prime opportunity to get ahead on work. My goal for the New Year is to take full advantage of any time off and fit in as much schoolwork as possible.
Lastly, for my overall mental health, I would like to be able to express more gratitude. A recent New York Times article cited numerous research that linked gratitude with significantly greater overall life satisfaction. Although I have a lot of things that I want to accomplish, I need to remind myself of what I have already accomplished. Ambition is a necessary ingredient for a successful dancer, but it’s also important to appreciate what you have in order to stay sane.
I hope sharing some of my New Years Resolutions can help you think about your own personal goals. Happy New Year!