Self Motivation

There are some people who are naturally motivated. They have the urge and dedication to constantly do what they need, whether they like it or not. And then there are the rest of us normal humans, who sometimes need that extra incentive or nudge.

When it comes to a physical form, be it dance or yoga or sports there are many obstacles that are a part of the practice itself. For one, you cannot physically practice all day long. It cannot be treated like a 9-5 job. Sometimes there are injuries, sickness, travel and lack of motivation to move. That being said, it is still absolutely essential to make the practice a part of your daily routine. So how do you we do it? This blog is based on my observations and challenges targeted at dancers but can extend to any physical practice.

First, its important to gauge where you are and what you want. Naturally the more you want, the more you have to work. I am basing my classification on what dance means to you and what you expect from it.

  1. If you are a hobby dancer – Meaning you enjoy dancing, its something you don’t mind spending time on and you want motivation to progress in the form.This is fairly simple to tackle. Find a good dance teacher or school, enroll yourself and make sure you attend classes regularly. Listen to your guru and work on corrections. Don’t get disheartened by apparent lack of progress and drop out. Specially with classical dance forms, patience and persistence will take you a long way. Stick with it and you will start to notice changes.
  2. If you are a passionate dancer – Meaning dance is more than a hobby to you, it is something you make time for and you want motivation to take it further.This can apply both to people who want to dance more or are looking to make a career change into the arts. You should be prepared to give the art a bit more.

    Training is the first stage. You must must go to class. And you have to try to be there no matter what. Avoid the small excuses – headache, rain, traffic, work, etc. Prioritize the dance and set aside the time for class. Like you would for brushing you teeth. Also set aside a dedicated time to practice. At this stage, you should have your own practice in addition to classes. Real progress is made only when you take corrections home and work on them. A teacher can only tell you what to do, its unto you to do it.  It will take weeks, even months of you working on a correction before you see the difference.

    Additionally, See if you can add a bit of cross training into your routine to help with the dancing. On days that you don’t feel like moving or work is too hectic, remind yourself that even 30 mins of dancing or a quick workout can turn your day around. You can do it instead of that one episode on Netflix. Just play your dance music in the background and you’ll be up moving in no time.

  3. If you are a professional dancer – Meaning dance is your career and you want to be a performer – You need the motivation to push yourself and it goes without saying that you have to practice everyday. There’s an added advantage here. Unlike people who work and need to make time, you are given the gift of time. You have all day to dedicate to your dance and practice. When people message me saying they admire how I practice everyday, I honestly want to say that it’s really not that big a deal. Nobody gets appreciated for going to office everyday. This is the same for me.

    I think, (and this is how I have been trained to think now) cross training is absolutely essential for the growth, maintenance and safety of your body. The biggest obstacle here is that you need the drive. And the drive has to come from you. Some things that I have found to help me

    Scheduling :
    As an artist, your schedule is always variable. There will be days of 6am classes and days of rehearsals until 10pm. But make a weekly schedule for your training. And stick to it when you don’t have one-off commitments.

    Making a daily list before sleeping :
    I do this everyday. Send a message or note to myself with tasks I need to complete the next day. This is in addition to classes. It can be as simple as write that blog or do the dishes. It doesn’t have to be completely dance related. But make a list. I find that the more things I put on the list, the more motivation I have to want to finish them all (cos I have ocd and hate leaving things unread or unfinished)

    Don’t make practice time variable :
    This has been a recent discovery. With classes, rehearsals and miscellaneous work piling up, my item practice started to suffer. And then I realized that it’s because I thought I’d practice whenever I find time. Which never happened. Now I have a fixed practice time in my schedule. And its working so far #touchwood

    – Being practical in planning :
    Just because you are a professional dancer and have found motivation, you can’t do everything everyday. Your body will suffer. I can’t do as much as a cross fit athlete does and expect to function the next day. Plan things such that you get what your body can handle and slowly increase the amount. Some days its okay to just practice and foam roll. The sooner you realize this, the longer your practice can sustain.

    Go lie on the yoga mat :
    I do this most afternoons. When I come back home from morning classes, sometimes I’m very tired. And I don’t want to do anything. I go exist on the mat and play music. Invariably I end up doing something

    – Utilizing extra time :
    I think I wrote a blog about the many roles  a dancer needs to take on in addition to skill in the form. Use the extra time you have to work on these skills. I for one, don’t read enough non-fiction, dance related content so its something I’m trying to do consciously. Sometimes you might need to spend time on emails, writing, even just listening to music and thinking. Sometimes you want to spend time with family. And that is completely fine too. But make sure you use your extra time wisely spending it on what you need then.

    – External Motivation :
    This doesn’t always work. But sometimes just seeing what your friends and peers are up to will get you up and moving.

I can probably go on an on about methods but ultimately it all comes down to you. I have just listed some things that can aid you in eventually finding your own motivation and methods. Staying positive and persisting is very important. Most of all, enjoy the dance. Let it fill your life the way only art can. Let it become a need, a requisite for you to function.

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