Ballroom Dance > Realistic expectations vs. limiting oneself

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by RiseNFall, Dec 5, 2015.

  1. RiseNFall

    RiseNFall Well-Known Member

    On the one hand there is the generally-attributed-to Henry Ford quote:

    Whether you think you can or that you cannot, you are right.
    On the other hand, there's being realistic.

    I do believe that self-definition is very important and can be limiting. However, I don't want to set such high expectations for myself that I become disappointed and frustrated. Anybody have any words of wisdom on how to balance these?

    Some thoughts are forming while I'm typing this, but I'm interested in hearing what you all have to say.
  2. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    Aim high. Strive ...but honestly reassess as you go.
    Accomplishment is like rope climbing . If you can put one hand over the other you will eventually get there.

    I expected certain successes that I have achieved. In other arenas they have come as a pleasant surprise. But in all cases I worked toward them with my maximum ability and commitment . Reality is a place of being not a state of mind per se
    raindance likes this.
  3. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    When I run into that, I try to leave it in my mind as an open question. "How much better can I be? I don't know. Let's find out." I can always find some place to improve.
    SwingingAlong, Sania, s2k and 5 others like this.
  4. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    I think that's where short- and long-term goals are helpful. That way you can set your expectations high, but have something achievable you can work on. And continually reassess for sure.
    IndyLady, SwayWithMe, Loki and 2 others like this.
  5. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    If you have a certain goal, you need to be aware of the work (short-term and long-term, physical and mental) (...and money) that is required to reach that goal. If you want to get to a certain level, but realize you can't put that work in, reassess. If you want to get to a certain level, and you've got only a fuzzy idea of how to get there, educate yourself and then reassess. Also be aware that different people have different starting points, both in experience and physical/mental ability.
    3wishes, IndyLady, SwayWithMe and 3 others like this.
  6. RiseNFall

    RiseNFall Well-Known Member

    Thank you all for your replies. You've given me a lot to think about.

    I (fortunately) enjoy the process of learning. In a lot of other areas I have been completely willing to have clearly unreasonable goals; when I was in high school I wanted to be a lawyer and used to say that my goal was to be a justice on the Supreme Court (partially tongue in cheek and partially seriously). Some of what I have been seeing as my limits as a dancer are real: time, money, age, experience, etc. Some others are potentially changeable with work. And some might change if I am willing to view myself differently.
    My goals have to do more with dancing with certain qualities than anything else.
  7. Loki

    Loki Well-Known Member

    Also helpful to keep in mind those things which are in your control and those which are not.
    middy, SwayWithMe and Purr like this.
  8. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    lofty goals are great...I have never been afraid to have them...however, in order to survive them, I have found the following things to also be helpful...not necessary, but helpful:

    *one person who also believes in me

    *occasional gin and tonic and a good cry in the absence of that

    *a sense of humor/not taking life so seriously all of the time

    *a sense of perspective/people are starving and dying of cancer and all sorts of real tribulation/dance is only one aspect of who I am

    *a reminder to myself that it is more noble to have tried and failed than to never have tried

    *a dedcation to do what I can to achieve those goals within the boundaries of sanity, a firm resolve to focus on my strengths more than the limitations that are out of my control, as well as an equal resolve to work on the limitations that are within my control
    Sania, stash, IndyLady and 3 others like this.
  9. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    I also wanted to add, it's important to have both long-term and short-term goals. The latter will help guide you, but the former will be what you immediately focus on. It's so easy to get unfocused and stuck if all you have is a grand long-term goal, or if you're aimlessly chipping away at an endless series of short-term problems.

    For most competitive dancers, your long-term goal will be something like "champ standard in X number of years," while short-term goals might be better leg action, figuring out posture enough that your back stops spasming (sigh), getting rid of a bad habit, etc. Maybe more social-only dancers can chime in with their version of a long-term goal (being able to lead/follow more people? more smooth and comfortable dancing?), but I imagine the short-term goals are quite similar.
    scullystwin42 likes this.
  10. raindance

    raindance Well-Known Member

    Aim high, but enjoy the journey along the way.

    If you can do that, it will be worth it, even if you don't get all the way to your ultimate (highest, furthest possible) goal. And I personally think enjoying the journey along the way increases your odds of getting to that ultimate goal, or as close as possible to it.

    It's OK to be aware of your limitations (time, money, age, etc), but don't focus on them. See what you can accomplish despite them if need be.

    Your biggest, long-term goals don't need to seem realistic. In fact, they should probably be big "stretch" goals. As others have mentioned, having shorter term goals that are more specific and realistic is useful to help you make progress and stay motivated along the way.
    Sania likes this.
  11. FancyFeet

    FancyFeet Well-Known Member

    I have lofty long-term goals. My approach though, is to keep the timeline on them realistic or even variable/open... because how long it takes to get there will vary depending on how hard I am willing to work and how much time and money I am willing to invest. And yes, on things like talent, quality of coaching, etc., but I much prefer to focus on the things that I can directly control. (I'm working on a willingness to say them aloud. I still tend to keep them largely to myself, and only communicate short and mid-range ones.)

    I do have smaller, shorter-term goals as well, like 'show definite improvement in x and y by next comp'. I tend to not focus too much on the level that I'm entering or the placements I'm getting, but more on what I produce on the floor. Although I distinctly remember two of my goals this calendar year were to 1) debut in open scholarship, and 2) look like I belonged there, so maybe that's not so true ;) And they vary. Right now, it's simply to start having fun at dance again while contining to improve two specific things for my next comp.

    And then there's the unicorn goal... find an amateur partner. Totally not within my control, and that can be completely depressing, especially since it impacts my long-term goal.
    Sania likes this.
  12. Newdancer81

    Newdancer81 Active Member

    Well I know most people are way more experienced than me, but a few people told me that I can't compare myself to others who just started taking ballroom dance classes. Even though I started in May/June, and there are some people who started a few months before and are already at a Silver I level and I'm still at a Bronze III level on the ones I'm doing.

    The way I see it is that I can't compare myself to others because:

    a) When people say they've never danced, they actually danced a few times, either at school dances, clubs, or parties. I never danced anywhere before except maybe in the bathroom.

    b) I didn't know any of the music.

    c) I never played sports (besides gym class) in high school.

    d) I haven't learned any new skills in over 10 years.

    e) I also don't know how many dances those people are learning.

    The way I see it is that I had to:

    a) Learn how to learn again - which is something that is quite hard to do.
    b) Remember that at 30+ years old, things don't just sink in right away like they did when you are a kid.
    c) Learn how to maintain activity and repetition.
    d) Learn that learning with a private instructor is great, but you need to practice by yourself and with others to get better.

    And I'm doing this socially but also for a learning aspect, and my only expectation is to get better each month and this thread just helped me make a goal of doing "x number of privates, x number of parties, x number of group lessons" each month.
    j_alexandra and dbk like this.
  13. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    IMO, unless those other dancers are extraordinarily talented and/or they're putting in 5-6 hours a day, less than a year is too soon to be dancing silver. So there's that.
    s2k, danceronice and Loki like this.
  14. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    Agree with cornutt. At least two to three years per medal more or less
  15. Newdancer81

    Newdancer81 Active Member

    Maybe he's lying to me then. He said something like "well, I've been doing it for one year, but you can't count the first year because I wasn't listening, so I'll say 1.5 years or so".
  16. Loki

    Loki Well-Known Member

    OTOH, I met someone several years ago who claimed he couldn't dance Smooth Bronze b/c his studio only taught Silver. The thought was something like Bronze is a waste of time.

    I was a newb, so I never questioned it.
  17. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    stranger things have happened
  18. JudeMorrigan

    JudeMorrigan Well-Known Member

    I'd considered commenting on that as well, although my comment would have been more along the lines of "be aware that quantized levels like that say remarkably little about a person's actual dance ability, so don't stress out too much about the labels."

    I've certainly known people who have started taking silver classes on that timeframe, but on that scale, it's generally going to say more about what steps a person knows rather than how well they can execute them. And if that's what makes them happy, well, whatever.
  19. Dancing Irishman

    Dancing Irishman Well-Known Member

    For social dancing, there might be some merit to that. The single thing I see newbies screw up the most is failing to change weight when they close their feet. Mostly passing avoids that problem, because their spine and foot placements together force them to be on the correct feet.

    Similarly, from a competitive perspective, my coach will often place students in open immediately rather than work them up through syllabus because it allows less total time to be spent on choreography and more time to be spent on learning the fundamentals that eventually make them successful in open latin. He did that for me when I started working with him, even though I had previously competed no higher than silver, and I believe it was massively beneficial to my dancing.
    Sania likes this.
  20. Loki

    Loki Well-Known Member

    Ok, not a slam on your abilities, but did you get slaughtered in open your first few comps?

    I'm intrigued by the "skip the syllabus" philosophy.

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