I saw this graphic on Instagram this weekend. Aside from the small grammatical errors (I can’t help myself), it’s quite hilarious. New Year’s Resolutions, especially those related to physical fitness, have become a cliche because of how easily they’re made and then forgotten.
I jumped on the fitness bandwagon this year because I wanted to quickly shed the extra holiday pounds, but I was careful to label my intention a “goal” instead of a “resolution.” Goals come with strategic planning and action steps. I took my first action step before the clock ever struck midnight on December 31 by reserving (and paying for) a spot in a 6-week bootcamp. Next action step is tomorrow – it’s the first day!
One reason I went for this particular fitness program was the built-in flexibility. The classes are three days a week, but on those days, you have six different times to choose from. You sign up for a particular time, but if for some reason, you can’t make it, you’re welcome to go to another time slot offered that day. My schedule is busy enough already, so knowing I could commit to the big goal without being restricted to one specific path toward that goal was a comfort.
I think that specific path is what trips up a lot of New Year’s Resolution Makers. Someone resolves to join a gym and work out every day. Then they miss a day or two, and then a week or two. They get discouraged when they don’t see progress right away, or they realize they really don’t like going to the gym. So they give up on their resolution altogether when they could just switch up their methods to accomplish said resolution.
I’ve done the gym membership. I used to go to a gym several times a week and swim laps. I swam competitively in high school, so it was a familiar workout to me and I still enjoyed it. But after awhile, I got a little bored and just having to go through the process of changing and showering before and after my swim was excuse enough to not go. I didn’t stop physical exercise altogether though. I tried doing circuits on the different machines in the gym. I tried Zumba classes (which we know were a big hit with me). I found workout videos online that I could do at home when I didn’t feel like leaving the house on the weekend or just wanted to go straight home after work.
After trying a lot of different things, dance was the one exercise that I’ve stuck with consistently. I still like doing the online workouts occasionally, but I know that a typical gym membership is just a waste of money for me. So I don’t try to force myself down that path to reach a fitness goal. Through all these years, even as I gave up on one form of exercise or switched to another, I never gave up the overall goal of staying healthy and fit. I was committed to the goal without being attached to how I got there.
I’m in a similar situation with my competition goals for 2019. After the 2018 Embassy Ball, I decided to move up to the Open level of American Smooth, which meant choreographing four new routines. At the same time, I had to cut back to just one dance lesson per week. So my progress at the Open level has been slow. As we start the new year, I have an Open Waltz routine and about half of a Tango routine.
My original goal was to debut Open at Ballroom Beach Bash, which is at the beginning of April. Three months isn’t a lot of time to finish Tango, choreograph Foxtrot and Viennese, and rehearse all four dances to the point they’re competition-ready, even if I am returning to two lessons per week.
And that’s ok! I’m still leaving Beach Bash as my first competition goal, but it’s just one option for competing in Open in 2019. If it’s time to register for Beach Bash and the routines aren’t ready yet, then we’ll just work toward another comp. Not being ready for that particular comp won’t be a failure; it will just mean my path toward my bigger goal is shifting.
In the meantime, I’m pleased to report that I’m making a lot of progress in the studio. My dancing is getting stronger and I’m enjoying myself! I miss competing, but there is a lot to explore and discover at this new level, so I’m staying busy.
I thought I would be more focused on preparing for the next competition at this point, but the path shifted. I needed more time to transition into Open while working on Waltz. I uncovered things that needed improvement that I didn’t plan for originally, like my core strength and upper body flexibility. So the path shifted. I’m still moving forward though. I haven’t failed or fallen behind just because I’m not where I expected to be (though admittedly my demons try to sell me on that point).
While we should hold on tight to our big goals and dreams, we need to stay flexible and adaptable in our methods for achieving them. Our path is not fixed. Plans are great tools for clarifying our path, but the future is always shifting, so pivoting when necessary needs to be included in those plans.
I hope my babbling tonight has inspired you to prepare to pivot when your 2019 resolution gets off track. I say “when” because it will get off track. That’s ok as long as you get back on track or shift over to a different, better track that will still lead you where you aim to go.
If you have dance goals like I do for the new year and would like some support, check out the free practice goals challenge. Over 5 days starting January 15, I’ll be guiding you in setting your practice goals up to best support your overall dance goals and set you up for dance success in 2019.