[Motivational Intro Music]
Chelsea: Hi, it’s Dr. Chelsea! Welcome to the Passion for Dance podcast where we talk about mindset, motivation, and resilience in dance. Today, I’m here with a continuation of last week’s episode about goal setting. Last time, we talked about the different types of goals and why competition goals can actually hurt your motivation. Today, I’m going to add some more info about why goal setting works and how it works, so not only you understand it better, but you can explain it to your dancers. When you all understand the how and the why, commitment goes up, buy in goes up, and the process is so much easier.
So here’s what you need to know about goal setting if you want to see your dancers improve onstage!
[Motivational Intro Music]
Welcome to the Passion for Dance podcast. I’m Dr. Chelsea, a former professional dancer and dance team coach turned sport psychologist. This podcast focuses on four main pillars: motivation, resilience, mindset, and community. Each week, you’ll learn actionable strategies, mindsets, and tips to teach your dancers more than good technique. This is a podcast where we can all make a lasting impact and share our passion for dance. Let’s do this!
[Motivational Intro Music]
Why Goal Setting – 1:16
First, let’s talk about why goal setting. When done right, it helps dancers improve technique and get more consistent at competitions and performances. See, goals are linked to our mental state. They directly link to our anxiety, our motivation, and our confidence. So if the wrong goals are used, you see an increase in anxiety or a drop in motivation and confidence, but if good goals are used, then the opposite happens. You can see a decrease in anxiety and an increase in motivation and confidence.
Last week, I talked about the three different kinds of goals, and they are tied to these two different mental states.
Outcome Goals – 1:55
Outcome goals, as a reminder, are goals focused on a competitive ranking or maybe getting the job. It’s on the outcome. But they generally have a negative impact on our mental state. Goals like placing top ten or making national finals could actually be harmful, but it’s all about how you define success. They’re not necessarily all bad. But this is where most dancers and coaches get it wrong. Having competition goals, again, they're not all bad, but they have the potential to cause the most harm.
Whether or not they hurt motivation and confidence depends on how you define success. If you and your dancers define success through social comparison (how you stack up to everyone else) or define it by winning and you also have a high-perceived ability (you truly believe that you're capable), competition goals can have a moderate increase in performance. That means if you set a goal based on final rankings or scores, but you also truly believe you're capable of doing it, that goal can help you put in the work it takes to achieve that goal.
Where things go wrong is if dancers don't think they're good enough. If success is defined as not failing where it’s all about not screwing up, beating other people, that often causes a decrease in performance. Dancers will usually perform worse when they're focused on not failing. So if you set a competition goal about placement or ranking and the dancers don't believe in their abilities, they're a little bit shaky or a little unsure, they will focus on their mistakes and falling short, which will make it more likely that they either give up or use excuses or even make a really big mistake onstage.
This is why I generally advise against outcome goals. You as the coach or the teacher might believe it’s possible, and maybe some of the dancers agree, but if you're working with a team especially, there’s a good chance at least some of them struggle with self-confidence and these goals will make it worse because it turns the focus on things out of their control, adds pressure, and usually confirms their worst fears about their abilities. So it just spirals and can get worse and worse.
Process and Performance Goals – 4:12
On the other hand, there are process and performance goals, and they’re different. Here’s why. They focus on the performance itself compared to your own abilities and talents, and it’s not about anyone else. As a reminder, process goals are about the how. Where you set a practice goal and a training goal that will help you make a desired competitive outcome more likely. You're setting a goal about how you're going to do the work. Performance goals are about measuring growth compared to yourself.
As a reminder, I went into both of these in detail last week. So if you need more, go back and listen to that and then come back here. But the point is, these two types of goals help our dancers define success as self-improvement, and if they also believe in their own abilities, there’s a good chance they will be more successful onstage.
Four Ways Goal Setting Influences Performance – 5:07
Now I want to talk a little bit about how goal setting works. Again, I hope you're already convinced it can make a big difference for your dancers, but if you or your athletes need a little extra incentive to get serious and give goal setting a try, here’s how they change your level of performance. See, goals influence your actual dance ability in four ways.
One: Goals Direct Your Attention to Important Tasks – 5:29
One, they direct your attention to important tasks. It really helps keep your priorities clear. We are often asked to make extra appearances or parents need something or we have some big idea we’re excited about, and then we get off track of what we intended to do. I think feeling overwhelmed and burned out feels worse when you feel like you're spinning on a hamster wheel all day without actually accomplishing anything.
So instead, good goal setting directs your attention to what’s important to you, and it helps you feel more accomplished and on track, so you are actually getting more done moving towards your singular goal, but you also feel a greater sense of achievement on the small day-to-day work, which will help keep you motivated and ready to come back every day.
Two: Goals Help Mobilize Effort – 6:16
The second way that goals influence performance is that they help mobilize effort. It’s what we’re all looking for usually, right, is our dancers to work a little harder. So have you personally ever started work for the day or got ready for a practice and felt like, “Ugh, I have 50 things to do. I don't know where to start”? I definitely feel that a lot, and clear goals that have been broken down into smaller steps means you have a prioritized to-do list, and you know exactly what needs to be done.
They can help give you the little kick in the butt you might need to start something that you’ve been putting off, or it can tell you where to get started today so that you have enough time to accomplish what you're after. It helps prioritize things so you're not just looking at this giant list of everything you want to accomplish before your first competition, for example, you have it broken down for you, and you know what to do each day.
Three: Goals Increase Effort Now and Later – 7:11
Number three is that goals increase effort immediately and they help prolonged effort, and they increase that persistence. Dancers go, usually, 365. We don't have an offseason, or if we do, we tend to call it improvement season (we’re still training). So having motivation that’s gonna last more than just a few weeks is usually a big challenge. We’re really struggling to figure out how to help our dancers work hard all season.
So, if we go all year and there’s no off-season, how do we get them to stay on track? Well, good goal setting helps you see the small wins. It’s not just about one goal that might be ten months away. It’s about what you're gonna do this week or this month, and setting those small goals lets you see the small wins, and you find more motivation, and you're able to persist and work harder though the more challenging parts of our season.
Four: Goals Help Us Develop New Learning Strategies – 8:09
Lastly, goal setters (people who do this well) develop and even employ new learning strategies. When you have a goal and you feel like you haven't made any progress, you notice the lack of progress, and so, it’s a little bit more clear to you that you’ve been doing the work, you're doing the right training, and it’s not working. And if you still want that end result, you find another way to learn it.
So I’ve seen dancers choose to take a technique class they weren't previously motivated to take because they weren't making progress toward their goal, they noticed, so they decided on their own to take a different style of class or take from a different teacher to change it up and help them reach their goal. Somebody who is tracking those goals and monitoring their progress who might notice that the progress isn't happening fast enough, you find a way to learn it differently. It helps you go about your problem-solving skills and find a new way to make this happen.
There’s No Direct Relation Between Goals and Performance – 9:06
All this to say, there isn't exactly a direct relationship between goals and a performance, right? Setting a goal doesn't magically mean you're gonna be better onstage. But goal setting works through other things. It improves your focus, your motivation, your persistence, and your effort. And all of that improves your actual performance.
So I hope understanding more about why goal setting is valuable and how it works inspires you to try and set some clear process and performance goals for you and your dancers. If you’d like help, I love working with school teams and studios to help them with this goal-setting process. So, if you’d like to learn more about the Virtual Goal-Setting Workshop, you can always look at www.chelseapierotti.com/workshop. The link is in the show notes to make that easier, of course. I would love to work with you!
If you have any questions about goals, or maybe your team set some goals and you're not sure if they're the right kind, I’d love to hear what you're setting and give you my feedback. So leave me a message for the podcast, and I will absolutely do my best to help. You can leave a voice note for the podcast anytime at www.chelseapierotti.com/message. Let me know the goals you’ve set, and I’ll let you know if I think they're gonna help keep you on track or if there maybe is something you could do to tweak it a little bit to really make a bigger impact this season.
Okay, that's it for now! Before I go, I truly want to thank you for being here and listening and supporting the show. It means a lot to me, and I hope you keep sharing your passion for dance with the world.
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