How often do you watch your own practice?
Looking back at yourself in the video feels really terrible. It is just so much better in your head.
But to get better, you need to face the reality. No one is born with Michael Jackson swag.
It sucked, but in the end it made me a better dancer.
The real learning happens when things are hard. I dragged my feet to the floor and worked on my move repeatedly, trying hard to ignore the doubt I am never a good fit.
Performing knowing you look like crap takes certain courage. It is easy to shy away from dancing altogether. The worse is to give up, after blaming on your poor talents.
Let me give you a relief here. The hardest part of your dance journey is the beginning phase. It is when you are transitioning from the layman to the title of a dancer.
It is like learning a bicycle. You fall many times in the beginning, but once you figure out the knack, it is impossible to forget no matter how old you become.
Once you have built the foundation, you will look extraordinary.
Today I want to share the motivation tips that helped me through in the early days.
1. Appreciate the Small Wins
You must remember the time you have cracked a joke at a party. You do not have to be a professional comedian to make a someone smile. It just feels nice to get a positive reaction from your close friends.
Dancing is the same.
Show your friends and family what you have learned. There is always an entertainment value. I am sure they will give you encouraging response. There is something nice about people enjoying music so much that makes us smile.
Of course, you can aim for the YouTube video with 100 million views, but for now let's appreciate the little happiness.
2. Build on Your Small Wins
Once you know the taste of friendly cheers, you will want to move to the next step. Focus on the small wins to keep you motivated and practicing.
How about signing up for a school performance? Cheering the crowd at a nightclub?
The goal is to retain the psychological rewards from your ability in doing the stuff most people cannot.
The more small wins you accumulate, the more confident you will become in each time you decide to practice dancing.
3. Get Inspired
In my early years, YouTube was still a new kid on the block. You would be lucky if you found the 360p video. All videos were posted by amateurs, but there were always 1 or 2 dancers everyone watched and followed. Now after 10 years, there are countless dancers with an infinite number of videos.
Regardless of genres, pick your favorite top. Write down why you like them.
When you connect the dots, you will be willing to keep up with the practice.
4. Look Back on Yourself
Have you been filming your practice? If not, start filming today. It's the best approach to see how far you have come through.
Storing video is cheap now, filming does not have to be only the special moment. Film it anyway, delete it later.
I usually use my MacBook Air's Photo Booth for filming. With a modern computer, you will be able to save 100 hours of practice easily (about 36GB).
Once it spins off over the long period, only pick one favorite video for the month and delete the rest. Then, you will be able to follow your growth and be proud.
5. Look Back on Other People
Just as you progress, the famous dancers evolve as well. Seeing other people's struggle with the styles, and break out of their shells are nothing but a human story.
On YouTube, search for your favorite dancers. If they are world class, they must have at least 5 years of media exposure. Add a time filter for say 2012. Look for the comments below as well.
There must be a time where nobody has given them credits, and how they grow to be the fearless monsters. If they can, why can't you?
6. Go Back to Your Root
You must have that moment you decided you wanted to start learning dance. As we get carried away with busy life and tough practice, that hot feeling quickly fades away.
Was it a movie? Music video? Street performance? Festival Stage?
Once you recall that time, the passion and dream slowly come back to you. You will want to pat yourself for taking the first step.
7. Try Out Different Genres
Do you always focus on mastering one style of dance? If so, it is time to explore.
Every genre has its own moods, tempo, and body positioning even if the song is the same.
Doing upbeat electric house all the time? Go with mellow funk popping. Doing happy face locking all the time? Go with dark Drake hiphop.
Aside from broadening your perspectives, you will be surprised to realize how transferable your skills are.
8. Welcome Failure
Do you believe in doing the clean move is the success to improve your dancing?
If so, I worry about your chance to expand beyond your comfort zone. Executing a move perfectly is good to impress people, but we are talking about practice here.
Actually, looking crap is good. That means you are adding your own arrangement, and reaching out your boundary. You have to embrace your challenging attitude and ignore those who laugh at you sometimes.
The more you fail, the more you will succeed.
9. Laugh at Your Bad Day
No matter how hard you practice, you cant avoid having a good and bad day. Your move looks uncreative and repetitive. You feel your legs weak on a certain day. That is okay. We are not robots after all.
Many things affect your dance condition. Not only the physical constraint, but your stress level can impact your musicality. Here is the good news: the opposite is also true. You will be rockin rollin on other days.
The worst is hurting yourself from forcing out. When you are not feeling it on that day, simply walk away, promising yourself to come back tomorrow.
10. Buy New Outfits
It sounds materialistic, but let's face it. It boosts your motivation. Imagine someone gives you a classic suede puma for your dance practice? You will be skipping down to the studio with a big smile on your face.
It can be shoes, t-shirts, pants, etc. Pick your favorite brands.
I find myself absolutely cannot practice without a hat or headcover. Having a superstitious item works as a trigger to start today's practice. If you lack those, it is time to hit the shops. At the end of the day, they will be good backups for your stage performance as well.
11. Switch Your Practice Methods
Are you only practicing in a dance studio? Then the type of your practice is directed towards steps and choreography. Although those are great at increasing the variety of your steps, dance practice involves many types of training. To name a few:
Every training has its pros and cons: body control, artistic creativity, dynamism, musicality, spatial memory, etc. There must be also your favorite ones and the not-so favorite. If you get bored at one type, try out other training methods. Shake it up!
12. Play the Long Game
All the great people I have met have positioned dance as their lifestyle. They sometimes disappear, but always come back in a few months.
At the end of the day, dancing is about having fun. You want to be enjoying.
Busy with school exams? Started a new job?
Fine. Nobody would blame you for living a busy life. Take weeks or even months off without dancing, as long as you come back to it later. Otherwise, you will be missing out the enormous pride you will have accumulated in years ahead through such an amazing hobby.
We Are in the Same Boat
These are the 12 things I always come back to. We all face discouragements, whether it is internal or external. There is no iron man in the real life.
If you are reading this blog, your motivation is already proven. You just need to keep at it.
Believe in yourself.