My Instagram feed is a constant trickle of new accounts, for many it’s their second Instagram. ‘susandoespole’, ‘jospolegress’, ‘staceyonapole’. The bio is along the same lines, ‘a place to document my progress’.
Every year, New Year’s resolutions flood social media, chatter in classes, and new notebooks are bought. By far the most popular milestone is the splits (if being able to do the splits brings you unbridled joy and never-ending happiness, that’s a totally different subject).
🌟Why set goals? 🌟
Goals are fantastic. They allow instructors to plan classes to suit your progress (yes, we do that!), it gives you a boost to keep moving, and guilts you into doing that stretch class you can’t REALLY be bothered with.
Let’s say you smash those goals. Fantastic, proper amazing! What have you gained? Where do we go from here? Butterfly, Ayesha, Handspring, Deadlift, Shoulder Injury! Wait....what? That wasn’t what I wanted. The PolePT phrases this all too smoothly, to a point where everyone feels called out.
‘We learn to Ayesha, then we start to work on handspring technique, at which point we repeat that movement pattern over and over again, flinging our bodies into the air like we are one of those squeezy wooden acrobat toys that have been possessed, until we eventually nail it. Then we continue to repeat that movement in ever more demanding ways by starting to work on more advanced moves like IronX and deadlifts? Sound familiar? The problem is that we get so busy trying to see if we CAN that we never stop to consider whether we SHOULD.’
Ask any seasoned pole dancer who has recovered from an injury and they will undoubtably know why it happened, and what they will never do again. Their goals will have changed. At least for me personally, I now know my goal is to understand my backbends, rather than just make them look more impressive to the unobservant eye.
Now we are getting to the good stuff.
There’s always more than individual goals. Especially in pole, not only is it so varied that no one has the same journey, but there is also no end game. There’s no rush to ‘become’ a ‘good pole dancer’, then once you’ve got that milestone you just sit back and enjoy. It’s not like passing a driving test. Set a goal, work hard, hopefully achieve, repeat. Doesn’t sound too fun does it?
This constant, endless, ceaseless grinding isn’t why you started pole. You’ve just never realised you put yourself in that game. Maybe you haven’t! Maybe you’ve got this far and you’re probably about to close the window, because you don’t understand how I’ve made this so complicated. In my opinion, if you just enjoy what you do, think it’s just a hobby/sport that you go, do, enjoy, go home, honestly that’s the best. But Pole defines so many of us, that we’ve lurched into this perpetual striving mode, where our ability to be better, do this and that, determines our success. And when our self carerituals (going to pole) become a source of stress (questioning your worth or success when you can’t do something), they ain’t self care anymore. So that’s when you need to take action to counter that change.
🌟 Looking back 🌟
In the last few years, I’ve fallen gleefully into the world of planning and journaling. I was always a paper basedgirl, my A6 yellow Filofax nestled into my bag at uni, when everyone else probably just used google calendar. I’ve never thrown any of those away, all the inserts still sit in my loft. Instagram introduced me to the world of journaling, which led me to my passion planner.
I ventured gingerly into the world of reflection, first it was just to set my goals. They’re easy, I know what I want to do! Then came the tricky questions. Who or what are you thankful for? What didn’t you achieve last year, and why? What are you going to do differently? Over time, these questions seemed to link seamlessly to my goals. The more I did these reflections, the easier it became to see what I actually wanted, rather than just the simplest version of them. Going full time with your business is pointless and even damaging if it destroys your body and you no longer enjoy what you do.
This is where we draw parallel with those who have recovered from injury. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and if we actually take the time to listen to ourselves, we can create these meaningful, consciously careful goals without hundreds of pounds worth of physio first.
So when I came across a Project Love podcast which focused on a very long term reflection, I jotted down the questions that I thought might apply to my pole journey. And when I got a chance (which was actually on a beach in a very sunny Cornwall), I set to work.
I chose not to browse through photos or videos to remind and prompt me, as I wanted to focus more on feelings and emotions. It felt refreshing and clarifying for sure. I surprised myself a few times, but on the whole I think I already knew most of the things that ended up in that notebook. I ended with summarising the things I need to remind myself, and when I need to stop and say ‘does this thing I’m doing today move me closer to what I want?’
🌟Enough about me, here’s your call to action. 🌟
So settle yourself somewhere you won’t be disturbed, preferably without a time limit. You can go places with this I promise, it might take longer than you think. Have some pretty paper and pens to hand, maybe photos/videos/social media/music to remind you of your pole journey. You can also choose a particular timeslot, e.g. when you first started, or this year, or when you started a monthly membership rather than weekly classes. I didn’t do this as I didn’t think it applied to me. Pick and choose from these questions, or do them all. There can sometimes be crossover, so maybe you’vecovered it in another piece of writing already.
For these questions I have used the word ‘dance’, but feel free to change for whatever suits you best, for example train, go to class, move, etc.
• Can you do things you didn’t think you were able to, or wanted to, before?
• Have your goals changed?
• What is your motivation to dance? What is this motivation fuelled by?
• What do you want more of?
• What do you want less of?
• What promises do you want to make to yourself? Your Body, Heart, spirit, soul
• Do you have to constantly strive? What for?
• How can I be present in the story I’m creating?
• Who is there to support you, and what interests do they have in your journey?
• What is one change you can make after this writing?
• Have your goals changed? (Yes, since the last time you answered this question!)
• What would you like to write next time you do this? Feel free to include timescales.
See how it feels, I dare you! My next step with this is to chat this through with people who understand this process, or have tried to themselves. Maybe it will make things clearer for me, maybe it will help me to understand other people, build stronger relationships.
I’ve not included any of my own writings in this post, as I want it to be a two way conversation. If you do wanna chat about it, hit me up. Hop into DM’s, or pop a comment down below and let chat about it. 🥰
*passion planner has all their materials available to download FOR FREE on their website *
Project Love Podcast
Episode 87, Stepping into a new decade.
My current planner