“Motivation is the key to success”, “I feel like you lack motivation”, “Stay motivated”

Do these statements ring a bell? They sure do for us as we’ve been hearing about the importance of motivation since we started dancing. So, we all know that it’s important. But do you really know what motivation is? Why is it important and how do you keep (or get) motivated?

We feel like that terminology is often thrown around by teachers and coaches without making sure that our students (or orselves for that matter) actually know what it is we’re talking about. So let’s dive into this and find out about motivation!

what is motivation?

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According to Kendra Cherry motivation is the process that initiates, guides, and maintains goal-oriented behaviors. Basically, it’s the WHY behind our actions.

There are several motivation theories proposed by psychologists much better qualified to explain them than us, but they include instinct theory, drive theory, and humanistic theory (such as the famous Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs). Take a look at this article if you would like more in-depth information about theories of motivation.

To put it simply, motivation is the driving force behind our actions, and understanding what drives us is crucial for achieving our ultimate goal- a successful dance career that makes us feel fulfilled and happy.

Types of motivation

Motivation is a combination of biological, emotional, social, and cognitive forces that activate behavior and there are different types of motivation.

EXTRINSIC MOTIVATION is the kind that derives from the outside- money, trophies, fame, titles, praise. 

INTRINSIC MOTIVATION- comes from within; personal satisfaction and sense of achievement, the joy of learning, etc. Behaviours driven by intrinsic motivation tend to be those that result not only in professional success but also make us, well, happier.

how do you get motivated?

Nobody feels motivated all of the time- there will be days when you feel energised and ready to train, then there’ll be days when you feel down and sluggish. This is completely natural, so don’t worry too much about an occasional down day- what’s important is to understand why you feel a certain way and how to get back on track.

There are steps you can take in order to find motivation :

  • ADJUST YOUR GOALS- setting the right goals is crucial; to far-reaching and you risk feeling hopeless and like they’re unreachable; cue motivation slump. Too easy to achieve and you’ll get bored. Goal- setting was a theme we spoke about extensively on a special episode of She’s Just A Dancer podcast with Janette Manrara and Katya Jones- listen here to find out what goal-setting is all about. 
  • focus on how far you’ve come and everything you’ve already achieved, rather than thinking about everything you still don’t know and need to master
  • TALK TO PEOPLE- we’re social creatures and keeping our concerns and worries bottled up is no way to help motivation
  • GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK- from personal experience- when you get over-tired and don’t even feel like walking, let alone dancing, your motivation levels will plummet. There can’t be success without hard work, but giving yourself no rest is a form of self-sabotage; you’re not a machine so give yourself sufficient time to rest and relax

It’s important to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to motivatoon. We’re all different people and just as your dance choreography needs to be constructed around your dancing style and ability, approach to getting and staying motivated is very personal. And don’t think there’s such a thing as instant success and a shortcut to achieving your goals- improvement takes time and success will be an automatic result of your performance quality.

So focus on the joy of learning that new step and mastering THAT turn- it’s about feeling satisfied and happy every single time you train, rather than waiting for that one moment of glory that passes in a heartbeat.



If you’re looking for an expert in dance psychology take a look at the work our friend and She’s Just a Dancer podcast guest Lucy Clements does- she’s an amazing person to talk to about all things dance psychology.

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