It’s time to get real about motivation. February is well under way, and in many cases the energy of New Year’s resolutions is starting to fade. If you’re one of the lucky ones competing at a feis or All-Irelands at this time of year, then you’re probably still going strong. But if you aren’t, how do you keep up the motivation to continue for a few more months until the next time you’re on stage?
Motivation essentially comes in two forms: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic (aka internal) are the types of goals that you make based on something you want to do for your own enjoyment and personal gain; while extrinsic (aka external) are the types of goals based on outside factors such as other people and rewards gained. For a more in depth look at the differences, and more on goal setting, read this article by our friends at Rising Tide Irish Dance Academy.
Now that you’ve got the groundwork for your upcoming goals, time to look forward at…
The Happy Dancer’s 5 tips to keep up motivation
1. Re-evaluate the goals from the beginning of the year
Whether it’s part-way through the month, semester, or whole year, it’s worth going back to where you wrote down your original goals and keep them updated. Keeping track of the progress will allow you to stay focused. You may find that you’ve lost track of how best to get to your end goal, or maybe you’ve already completed some of the steps and need to come up with new ones! Either way, regularly reminding yourself of your goals will keep you motivated while getting through the hard work and a possible slump.
2. Remind yourself why you set those goals
Oftentimes when it comes to competitive dance, it can be hard to remember the fact that you do love to dance. It’s so easy to get caught up in the competition and focusing on the end result of a feis day that the fun and enjoyment aren’t a priority. Take a look at the goals that you have set for yourself, and really think about why those are your goals (this is where intrinsic vs extrinsic becomes clear). Do you simply love dancing? Or are you in it just to win? Both of these will take very different motivation strategies.
Personally, I find this strategy to be one of the best ways to stay focused on my goals whether it’s for dance, work, or for life in general. By taking a few minutes to imagine how I’ll feel once I reach that goal, or what other things it might lead to, I find I’m often re-energized and happy again!
3. Take a look at what you’ve already accomplished
Irish dance is a pretty amazing sport. We hold our feet in a way that feels unnatural, try to fight against gravity as we leap through the air, and are expected to perform athletically while making it look easy! The very fact that you have reached a point where you are now setting goals to get better means that you are already very capable.
As a dance teacher, I see brand new dancers every semester who are challenged by the things we may consider basic. But I tell them to stick with it, and sure enough it becomes easier. Regardless of your goals (mastering an over-2-3, or qualifying for Worlds), look at everything you’ve accomplished already, and think about how much work it took to get to this point. You’re already well on your way to reach your goal – and are a pretty cool, talented dancer too!
4. Spend some time trying something new
There’s a famous quote that says, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” When you’re trying to reach a long term goal, you might start to feel like a hamster on a wheel doing the same thing over and over but getting nowhere! So take some time to mix it up. We’re so lucky that in Irish dance there are so many options for cross training.
If you have been practicing the same steps over and over and are starting to get bored, or are feeling like you aren’t improving, it might be time to work on different aspects. Try finding some strength training exercises to work your muscles in a new way (Celticore has great video examples on Facebook). If your stamina or cardio capacity is an issue, try something like HIIT training on a stationary bike, or hill sprints (if you live somewhere without snow!). There are plenty of ways to keep your fitness level up, and it may give you just the boost you need the next time you’re back in the studio.
5. Try finding some outside inspiration
These days, Instagram is OVERFLOWING with videos of Parade of Champs, practice videos, and photos of winners with their globes and sashes. Sometimes this can feel pretty overwhelming, and even discouraging. But rather than looking at those photos and thinking, “wow I’m not that good, I wish I could be…”, take a look at what they may be doing with their technique that you might not be, or think about how much they have worked to get there. Having this resource can be a great source of inspiration! You know you’re going to spend hours scrolling online looking at photos and videos anyways, so you might as well surround yourself with motivational quotes and inspirational dancers that will make you want to get back to the studio!
Motivation can be a hard thing to keep up, no matter how well you start off the year. Things like sickness, injury, or even just a busy schedule can put you into a slump that you have to fight to get out of. By pausing to re-evaluate and get re-energized with these 5 tips, you’ll be back to kicking butt in no time!