New Season Mindset Prep
by Ashley Mowrey
Whether you’re in the midst of a transition or gearing up for your new season, taking the time to prepare mentally can help you optimize your physical training as a dancer or dance teacher. As your new dance season approaches, so does the opportunity to shed what was and shift into a healthy mindset, one that’s resilient and growth-oriented.
Through these three steps and the exercises within them, you can let go of the past, gain clarity, imagine the season you want, and take action to make it happen. Teachers, this is an excellent exercise for you, your staff, or to use with your students as classes start!
Step 1: Release what was
Before we begin something new, we must release the past, whether that was negative or positive. When we release negative experiences, such as disappointments, challenges, and setbacks, it can help us shift perspectives, learn from them, and move on. It might sound odd to release positive experiences, but let me explain. If we are attached to our past positive experiences, such as winning or being the lead, it can become our identity and affect how we handle future disappointments. If all of our motivation comes from a past win, and living up to that success, we adopt the false belief that growth is always linear. This isn’t to say don’t celebrate or feel proud of yourself and your accomplishments. Take time to honor your hard work and achievements. Then, let them go to make space for what’s next.
Three ways to release what was:
Pick one or two to try out yourself. Think about the specific experiences you want to release, as well as your thoughts and feelings about them. A mantra such as “I am releasing this” or “I am letting go” can be helpful during this process too.
- Movement: Moving our bodies through improvisation, physical activity, walking, etc. If you choose improvisation, I encourage you to make this a special time for just yourself, without an audience or filming, which could affect your processing and movement choices.
- Writing: Journal about your experiences in the past season and what you want to release. Name the feelings and thoughts you had, as well as what comes up as you write. Writing the mantras from above can be powerful, too.
- Healthy destruction or manipulation of materials: Some ideas include tearing or crumpling paper or squeezing a stress ball or clay. Get creative here and think of malleable materials you can use to release tension and feelings.
Step 2: Envision your new season
Here’s a quick visualization you can use to envision your new season:
- Find a quiet, safe place and get comfortable. Sit with a tall spine or lay on your back with feet and arms uncrossed.
- If it feels safe and comfortable, you can close your eyes. If not, use a soft downward gaze.
- Take three deep breaths. As you inhale, feel your belly expand like a balloon being blown up. As you exhale, feel your belly deflate.
- Imagine yourself at the end of your season. It’s been your most incredible season yet, full of growth, hard work, and joy.
- What do you see? Use your five senses to make it detailed and vivid.
- Stay with this vision for as long as you want, taking it all in and committing it to memory.
Questions to ask yourself either during or after the visualization:
- Who are you in your vision?
- How do you feel in your vision?
- What do you need to get there?
- What thoughts, beliefs, and actions have helped you get there?
- After, write down your responses for each question and anything else you want to remember from your vision.
If you have trouble mentally visualizing your season, or it’s just not your thing, that’s okay! Instead, you can grab a notebook and journal about the season you want for yourself, using the questions from the visualization.
Step 3: Take Action
Now it’s time to put your vision into action, Dancer! Use the following journal prompts to get you moving.
Which thoughts, beliefs, and actions do you need to update to get you where you want to go? Examples:
- Thoughts: If thoughts of comparison or self-doubt are a common occurrence, they’re likely not serving you well. Check out this article and this post to start shifting those thoughts.
- Beliefs: If you believe that your skills and abilities are unchangeable or feel threatened by critiques or others’ success, this could be a sign of a fixed mindset. To practice developing a growth mindset, which will help you further your potential, take a look at this Apolla Morning Motivations Mindset Skills IG Live. Other common limiting beliefs are the belief that you’re not (fill in the blank) enough, mistakes and failures are bad and should be avoided, you have to be perfect, or the fear of rejection. Gently explore if you’re holding onto any of these beliefs and how you’d like to update them. You can do this by repeating your new beliefs to yourself in a mantra or positive affirmation such as, “I am enough” or “I give myself permission to make mistakes and be imperfect”.
- Actions: Reflect on your actions from the past year and compassionately ask yourself if they’re propelling you forward. If you’re constantly late, not practicing, showing up without choreography memorized, these behaviors could be holding you back. What actions do you want to practice instead?
- What’s one thing you can do this week to practice your updated thoughts, beliefs, or actions?
- What’s one action you will take this week to get you closer to your vision? Maybe starting to use protective dancer footwear to avoid injuries?
- Grab your calendar or planner, and right now, set a weekly time to check-in and reflect on your vision, including your thoughts, beliefs, and actions. In addition, you can also use my free Mindset Warm-up & Cool-down to guide you in this new direction. Just scroll down and enter your first name and email where it says “Join Me,” and it’ll be sent right to your inbox.
You can totally do this, Dancer! I’m so proud of you for taking this time to reflect and focus on your mindset. This inner work will have a lasting impact on your training and mental well-being. If you’d like support while you go through this process or are interested in my work, head to my website. You can also find me on Instagram for more free tools, resources, and inspiration.
Teachers, for more inspiration and help developing confident dancers, don’t miss Dr. Chelsea Pierotti’s Confident Dancer Summit, a free online conference for dance educators on August 6-8. There will be presentations by 15 industry experts ranging in topics from body confidence (that’s me!) to goal-setting and so much more. Grab your free ticket here! And if you decide to upgrade to the all-access pass, which includes lifetime access to the presentations + lots of freebies, you’ll be contributing to my compensation for my work on this project. So thank you!!
Ashley Mowrey is a Mindset Coach and Educator for dancers, helping you calm the mind and body, cultivate self-confidence, and create inner strength. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from The University of Arkansas, is an Associate Certified Coach through the International Coaching Federation, a Whole Person Certified Coach through Coach Training World, a trained facilitator in Tara Mohr’s Playing Big Leadership Program, a specialist for Doctors for Dancers, and a blog contributor for Apolla Performance. Ashley has recently joined the faculty for Embody Dance Conference, a new convention coming August 2021. There she will lead workshops for all age groups, including parents and teachers, on mindset skills. She is also a Team Member of Dancer, 360, and is a contributor to their upcoming book. Ashley trained as a competitive dancer out of Dallas, TX, before teaching and eventually directing a company and dance studio in Fayetteville, AR. During those years, she felt drawn towards the dancer’s mindset and the need for training and tools in the dance community to foster mental health and well-being. She sees clients in-person and via Skype/Zoom all over the country and travels (in-person and virtually) to studios for customized group workshops. Ashley has also been featured on the Pointe to Rise Podcast, Dance Studio Amplified Podcast (Ep. 14), Dance Boss University Mastermind guest presenter, and episode 58 of Dance Boss Podcast. Head to her website for more information or her Instagram for free tools and resources to help you build a healthy mindset to navigate the dance world at your best.