As a Latin dance instructor for over 20 years, I see many students that come and go and have coached many through their struggles to perfect their skills and keep reaching new levels.
The successful students understand 8 crucial factors:
Planning/preparation: Take out your calendar and school in your new classes/privates or social dances in advance.
Setting small and reasonable goals: expect to learn the basics before you jump in and social dance with advanced dancers. It will take some time and be patient.
Dedicating a consistent yet reasonable time per week to learn: Start with once or twice a week and build if your schedule permits.
Using their Video camera on their phone to review after each lesson. You will forget small details if you leave it to memory.
Share your new venture with friends and family to keep you accountable. You can tell a couple of friends that you are trying out a new class so you feel you need to really try harder so that you can have something to say when they ask you about it.
Celebrate your small successes: Start with feeling great about dancing 30 seconds without losing the beat, or begin with asking 1 lady/man to dance at each social and celebrate it even if it didn't go perfectly because it was a success in courage and getting you out on the dance floor.
Tell others who are important to you about your new class so that they respect your time and dedication without jealousy or questions.
Promise to continue at a set date if you need a break for emergency work or family matters and don't quit because of distractions.
Perfecting dance, especially partner dancing, takes time and dedication just like any new skill or habit so here are a few tips from Barry Davenport to help keep you on track in your Latin dance journey.
8 Reasons Why You Fail at Creating New Habits
Is it time for you to figure it out?
If so, here they are — the 8 reasons that you have failed at habit creation in the past and how to succeed in the future.
Reason #1: Lack of Planning and Preparation
Boom, you just start. You want to create a new habit, so you think, “I’ll start this habit today or tomorrow morning or Monday.” But you don’t do anything to plan or prepare yourself and those around you. You don’t get yourself mentally, physically, emotionally, and practically ready and ripe to be successful.
Reason #2: You Start Too Big
Let’s say you want to lose weight. So you decide to start running, begin a diet, and count calories. That one goal of losing weight requires hundreds of major and mini new habits. Within a few weeks, if not days, you will feel completely overwhelmed and give up.
Reason #3: You Commit Too Much Time
Even if you decide on a small habit, the tendency is to over-do it in the beginning. Your brain and your muscle-memory have to become accustomed to a brand new behavior at a slow and steady rate. If you want to begin a new habit like running, writing, meditating, or anything that will ultimately require 30-90 minutes or more, don’t start at the optimum time commitment. Start with the least amount of time that’s easy to manage (like 5 minutes) and slowly work up to more time.
Reason #4: You Trust Your Memory
You think once you’ve committed to this new habit, you’ll remember to do it every day. And you may for a few days. But then you’ll forget, either consciously or subconsciously. You need a reminder, an already-established trigger that will jog your memory and spur you on to action — like using tooth-brushing in the morning as a trigger for meditation.
Reason #5: You Have No Accountability
Most of us don’t tell people when we start a new habit because we don’t want them to know if we fail at it. We keep it quiet, just in case. Well, that attitude dooms us to failure. It should tell us we aren’t really serious about creating this habit. If we were, we’d tell people. We’d tell everyone. Because we loathe looking weak or incompetent, we force ourselves to do the damn habit to avoid being embarrassed. You have to tell people, and keep telling them about every success and every failure. That keeps us accountable.
Reason # 6: You Don’t Acknowledge Your Successes
Accountability involves some negative reinforcement — the avoidance of embarrassment. But we need positive reinforcement too. All fear and no fun makes habit creation feel like a bad school day. You have to plan a reward system yourself to keep your motivation and positivity at a high level. Gold stars, a piece of chocolate, a nap, anything that feels like a reward will work to reinforce your habit.
Reason #7: You Neglect to Communicate
If you don’t communicate with those close to you about your habit creation plans and get their buy-in and support, you are setting yourself up for trouble. If your habit work disrupts the lives of those you love, and they aren’t prepared, they’ll be lobbing anti-habit bombs in your direction until you wave the white flag.
Reason #8: You Use Disruptions as an Excuse to Give Up
During the planning phase of habit creation, you should always create a “disruption contingency plan.” You may get sick. There may be a special event you must attend. You may need to change the time or place for your habit. Disruptions absolutely will happen — but they can’t be an excuse for stopping your habit work. Plan for them in advance so you aren’t blindsided by the unexpected.
You aren’t condemned to failure at creating new habits. There is a simple method for integrating habits into your life in a way that ensures they stick. With proper planning, preparation, small goals, accountability, rewards, and communication, you will address the problems that undermine habit creation before they ever occur.