I’ve been learning a lot about myself and my goals recently as I have been continuing my search for a new “muggle” job and I thought some of you might take something away from my ramblings.

For those who don’t know, I was a music teacher until this last spring when I decided to not renew my teaching contract to come back in the fall. I have been working with other teachers around the country as part of a group for teachers leaving their classrooms to find new jobs, so there have been plenty of discussions about goal-setting in the job searching process.

For some people, having a reward planned out for themselves is a great way to achieve their goals and I’ve learned a lot of people scale their rewards to the “size” of their goal. Do something small, get a small reward. Do something big or something that was extra scary, maybe they’re buying themselves a lavish dinner! I could see this working for a lot of us at the studio. Some days, the goal may be to show up and just do something. Getting up and going might constitute the reward of a latte from your favorite coffee place. Or maybe you’re planning a big, scary goal, like signing up for a competition. Signing up and getting that routine planned might mean you get yourself a cute new pole outfit as the reward!

For me, though…. If I want that latte, I’ll just go get it now. If I want to watch an hour of trashy television, I’m going to do it. I have found that a reward system isn’t the system for me. I’m a data person. I’m a lists person. If I can check something off a list or look at numbers and see improvement or growth, that pumps me up. This got me to thinking about some goal setting techniques I learned throughout my teaching. Some of you in the “corporate” world might use goal-setting skills like SMART goals or PDSA. I can only speak to what I know, but some of you “numbers” people might take a liking to these.

A SMART goal is a goal that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based. I love using this framework because it’s practical and sets up you for success. A SMART goal for you will be something specific and relevant to the work your doing so you do not compare yourself to others. It will be time-based, so you get set bite-sized goals and see if you were successful. For example for a beginner in pole, a great SMART goal would be to use all of your classes AND practices! If you want to be more specific, challenge yourself to practice the newest spin you learned in class at your practice. That way you can track what you worked on, your Aerial Dance account will show you if you’ve used all of your classes and practices, it’s based on the ability you’re at right now, and it’s time-based within that 8-week term!

Another great way to track your progress is a PDSA goal. This style of goal setting has a few names, but I know it as Plan, Do, Study, Act. What I like about this style is it’s cyclical, not linear. You PLAN your big goal, but ALSO the small steps you’re going to take to get you there. As you start to DO those small steps, after some time (we did 2-week cycles) you’re going to revisit your small and big plans. STUDY how your process is going. Are the small steps still helping you get to your big goal? Have you been showing up to do those small steps? Finally, you’ll ACT on what your study has found. Based on your work so far, does anything need to be changed to help you achieve your goal? Have you already reached your goal and now it needs to be more challenging or completely different? This style doesn’t necessarily have an end as it can keep morphing as you do your steps and study how your progress is going.

Goal setting is tricky. Finding goals that are attainable and relevant to you are important and figuring out what kind of goal setter you are can be revolutionary. Can you make a list of small and big rewards that would encourage you to keep going? Are you a data-tracker and list-maker that would benefit from analyzing what you work on? Maybe you’re a mixture of both!

Knowing how to keep your motivation going can be the ultimate game-changer!