As you head out on your upcoming 2021 summer intensive adventures, you may want to consider maximizing your time by setting specific goals for yourself. We all know that setting goals can help drive you toward your dreams, but what kinds of things are best to focus on during the span of your 3-6 week long intensive experience?
There are a few things to consider. First, you may want to start by thinking big picture, especially if you're an older, pre-professional student. Are you attending a school or studio that is associated with a company that is of interest to you? If so, you may want to set a goal of creating networking opportunities and meaningful relationships with people within the organization. You could consider speaking with alumni, chatting with other current students, or sitting down with from anyone else who may be able to provide insight into the program or company. You never know what you'll learn, and, who knows, you might even talk to someone who may positively impact your future down the road!
If you're a younger dancer beginning your journey, think of your long-term goals more broadly; are you looking to become a professional, or do you think dance might be more of a passionate hobby? Either way, summer intensives will allow you to grow both as a dancer and as a human being!
While big picture, long-term goals are an excellent way to help guide your everyday decisions, the short-term, small picture goals are the ones that will be most attainable at your summer intensive.
Let the big picture (long-term) goals fuel your small picture (short-term) goals.
To help develop some short-term goals for yourself, think SMART:
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Relevant
T = Timely
When creating your short-term goals, try to be precise. Detail-oriented goals like not biting your lip or furrowing your eyebrows during class are excellent, focused objectives that you can work toward accomplish during your summer intensive.
Being able to quantitatively measure your progress over time is an encouraging way to keep moving forward and eventually reach your long-term goals. If your goal is to go from double pirouettes to consistent quadruple pirouettes over the course of your summer, you might not be setting yourself up to succeed. Instead, consider a goal such as completing a triple pirouette once within each combination. Turn your quadruple pirouette into a long-term goal and work towards accomplishing it by absorbing corrections and writing them down.
Specifically in regards to short-term goals, be sure that the things you're looking to achieve are physically within reach. Not everything will be able to be perfected over a month or two, so take what you learn back home with you and continue working on it. If your goal is to work on your flexibility and achieve the center splits you haven't quite mastered yet, add it to a journal. Not only does this help keep you accountable, but it will also be an empowering thing to look back on down the road. Besides, who doesn't love checking things off a list or seeing how much you've grown?
It's always helpful to occasionally checking in with yourself and your long-term goals to ensure that your everyday, short-term goals are leading you to your biggest aspirations. If your end-goal is to dance with a contemporary ballet company, set a short-term goal of putting yourself out there especially in any dance classes outside of classical ballet and pointe. If you notice a classmate who excels in contemporary or jazz class, try to pick up on what sets them apart and then find your own way of standing out. Or, ask them how they approach that style of dance and how they became comfortable with it! The uniquely wonderful thing about intensives is the chance to meet all sorts of people with different background, skills, and personalities - so enjoy the opportunity to learn from them!
Setting a timeframe for achieving your short-term goals can be a helpful tool to actually succeeding in them. Although this element is important, it's equally important to remember that summer intensives are just the start. You'll likely not be able to accomplish everything on your list during this relatively short amount of time, so it's essential that you do not put too much pressure on yourself. Even short term goals might evolve into longer-term goals, and that's okay! Be sure to fully enjoy the extracurriculars, socialization, networking, friend-making, and the incredible chance to explore a new city.
While your aspirations and goals will change over time, the important thing is to always remain focused on moving forward. The journey of working towards achieving your goals is often more beneficial and life-changing than the goal itself.
Work hard, allow yourself and your goals to change over time, and remember to think SMART!
University of California: SMART Goals: A how to guide.