How to NAIL new years' resolutions (like, actually)

10:40:00 AM

It's that time of year again to make those resolutions that seem so achievable during New Years' Eve and magically become impossible by the time it's January 2.
Impossible as they seem, as a part of my "new years' ritual," I find the reflection and goal setting process to be extremely helpful and crucial to my improvement as a person and dancer.

To aid my fellow dancers (and non-dancers) in achieving their resolutions, I'm sharing my three-part process below:

1) Reflection

Journaling helps simplify my life while offering a tangible form of thought for me to use later. Most dancers keep a correction notebook--being the journaling maniac I am, I keep three dance-related journals: one for corrections (actually several, since I start a new one every year to keep things fresh), one for reflections (on competitions, performances, summer intensives, constantly focusing on how to improve) and one for any burning thoughts or emotions that are dance-related (basically where I ballet-rant). More on my journaling process later...
I have branched off the simple "good things" and "bad things" table to develop a format to use when reflecting about the year:

1) I fill out the "good things" and "things to improve on" columns in two sections: as a person, and as a dancer. Under "as a person" I put things such as "improved patience" or "stop resorting to complaining as an initial reaction." I find that it is always important to improve on yourself as a kind person, which can also help your mentality at ballet. 
 2) Under "as a dancer" and "good things," I start off with general things I've learned this year and where I've learned it (seen in the parentheses). I put summer intensives, studios, or even what I've taught myself--this is extremely helpful in acquiring a visual understanding of where you improve the most, which can help you with time management in the new year.
3) The very last question I ask myself is: "Did I learn and improve at the best rate possible?" After all, at the end of the day, all we can do is try our best--usually everything else is out of our control.  Consider conditions that hindered you, such as a lack of sleep, school, injuries, etc. Oftentimes you may be improving at a much faster rate in the summer than in the winter, and that's okay! Assess the factors that led you to improving slower in the winter and try and prevent those factors from occurring as much in the new year.
Do not limit these things to just technical improvements/goals! It is highly important to improve on your work ethic, mentality, and professionalism as a dancer. There is much more to becoming a professional ballerina than technique--almost half of my "things to improve on as a dancer" are about working on a more resilient mindset in the face of the stressful environment of ballet.

2) Goal Setting

I use these tables to get a feel of where I need to improve the most and make new years' resolutions. At the end of each year, I look back on the previous years' table of "things to improve on" and check off what I've improved in order to get an additional assessment of my work ethic.

I've talked about goal setting before (SEE BLOG POST HERE), so I won't repeat what I've already said. I cannot emphasize that you MUST BE SPECIFIC! For example, if the goal is "eat less sugar," you would have to define how much sugar (so then you would have to define the amount in grams/servings) over how much time (e.g. no more than 9.5 teaspoons a day, as recommended by the American Heart Association.)

Make sure you can identify, where, when, and how you will achieve your goals--it's also a good idea to write this down next to your goals (see step C in "Execution.")

I won't give you too much on goal setting because I think it's important for them to be personalized and fitting to your needs, and this goes for this whole blog post! This is all just a process that I have found very efficient, but if it doesn't work for you, by all means, try something new! (Wow that rhymed)

3) Execution

This is the hardest part, but I promise it's not impossible! Tips include:

A) Make your goals a part of your schedule! This is the most helpful tip for me, since it forces you to work on them. I use an app called TimeTune to set my schedule and organize my life and it simultaneously allows me to get a visual understanding of how I spend my time:
  • I devote 6 days a week to exercising a certain muscle (which helps me with my resolution), and the 7th day is for reflection and weekly goal-setting.
  • I write down the exercises I do so that I can either do more reps the next week and/or change the routine.
  • Every night, I also have myself do stretches for at least 10-15 minutes on top of the stretches I do before ballet, and I specify those stretches under the description in the TimeTune app. These are usually simple stretches to prevent injuries and tendonitis.
  • I specify a bare minimum of exercises I have to do for that muscle group in case I'm very busy and/or tired. I allow myself 3 days a week at the most to not do my exercises in the case that I'm SUPER busy or sick.
B) Tell someone about your goals, preferably someone with the same goals (many of my fellow ballerinas share the same goals as me) so that you can encourage each other.
C) Write down your resolutions somewhere where you can see them and be reminded of them everyday.
D) It's easy to forget your resolutions amidst the chaos of the year, so I do monthly reflections (dang I'm really into this reflection thing):
  • I rate the month on a scale of 1-10 and why
  • Ask myself whether I was happy with how I spent my time and why/why not. This is also the time for me to make a mental check on my progress with my new years' resolutions.
  • Ask myself the 3 most important lessons I learned
E) Reward yourself if you achieve your resolutions! Reward, as we all know, may be the best motivation for anything--so talk something out with your parents or promise yourself something to keep you going the entire year.

I know it seems like a lot of work to do so much reflection, but really, it's super relaxing and reassuring. Quite frankly, it's a large part of what keeps my self-esteem up by knowing that I can determine how well I'm doing without anyone else having to tell me.

Best of luck on your resolutions!

Much love,


  1. ahh this is so helpful~ thanks so much!!

    1. Of course! Glad you found it helpful :)


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