Hey Dancer and Happy New year!
Real quick… let’s play a game. Put a finger down if you’ve already heard (or said) one of the following…
“New Year, New Me.”
“Good things are on the horizon.”
“Celebrate what you want to see more of.”
“In a year, you’ll be glad you started today.”
These are all listed on Google as some of the ‘top most used slogans for the new year,’ and truly, none of these are bad phrases.
Each one has the right idea.
The only problem is, while these slogans may inspire you to set goals, none of them inspire a way to achieve them. I mean, it makes sense.
Pushing people to set new goals will also push people to invest in those new goals. But what if investing in your goals and resolutions wasn’t completely financial? What if the investment was mostly mental?
Visualization and manifestation are tools we can use to achieve precisely what we want– and don’t worry, if either of those words feel a little out of reach for you we are going to break it down with two of my favorite things, science and practicality.
Visualization has been used by athletes for decades to achieve performance goals.
You see, when an athlete is practicing visualization, the brain tells the target muscles involved what they need to do to achieve that.
This communication between your brain and your muscles forms a neural pattern in the brain that is exactly the same as the neural pathway needed to physically do that task.
ISN’T THAT SO COOL?!
And this science isn’t new.
Alexander Bain of Great Britain was the first scientist to study how these neural pathways are formed and he lived between 1818-1903!
However, it is true that within the last 80 years, the study of the effects of visualization has expanded outside of athletics and into how we train our brains to do nearly anything.
Surgeons, police officers, and more have used visualization to help them master tasks and habits which, in turn, resulted in less stress and anxiety when performing those tasks.
I don’t know about you, but I would love to not feel panic when a choreographer says the words, ‘triple pirouette.’ I would also love to not feel stressed about saving money. Yes, this works for that too.
Now that we have visualization down, let’s talk about manifestation.
A lot of people hear this word and tend to roll their eyes because so many people treat it like magic. “Send it to the universe and it will be!” or “Say it once a day and it will happen!”
Well, while the law of attraction is very, very real. It also requires effort. Vocabulary.com defines manifestation as: the public display of emotion or feeling, or something theoretical made real.”
l like that.
It helps me understand that manifestation happens when you take action on your visualization because you believe it is true. It’s not magic, but it does work.
For example, when I was a little girl in my white light-up tutu, I would delicately peer around curtains of the wings while the “big girls” danced in the annual recital.
They looked so beautiful in their pointe shoes and tutus.
I looked up to them so much that I wanted to be a dancer when I grew up.
Now, that’s a lovely desire from a six-year-old, but simply wishing it everyday wasn’t going to magically turn me into a professional dancer. But as a child, I wholeheartedly believed this was going to be the case for me.
In fact, one time in the fourth grade I felt like people were associating me too much with theatre so I wrote a poem about ballet to prove my love of the artform.
This is obviously a silly example, but I believed that how I spoke about dancing and how I portrayed myself to the world would contribute to my becoming a professional dancer.
And guess what? It did.
Instead of “I want to be a dancer when I grow up” it was “I’m going to be a dancer when I grow up.”
And, because it was a priority to me, it became a priority to my family and loved ones.
When we couldn’t afford classes I spoke with my instructor about a scholarship program.
When it came time to apply to colleges I prioritized the dance department over everything despite my other interests.
I took consistent action to make my abstract dream become reality. Now, had I just believed that I would be a dancer one day yet chosen to spend my time daily on my other interests, the end result of dancing professionally in NYC might’ve been very different.
Manifesting is more than just believing, it’s choosing to act as if that belief is already true.
I believed I would be a professional dancer, so I made choices that a professional dancer would make.
So, how do we take these two ideas and put them to use to achieve our goals?
Maybe you heard about vision boarding from Rhonda Byrne’s book, The Secret. Or maybe you follow women’s Gymnastics like our coach Keirstin who learned about vision boarding from Nastia Liukin.
However you may have heard about it, vision-boarding is a fantastic way to remind you daily of your “why”.
Why are you waiting tables right now? *glances at vision board* Because you are choosing to train during the day so you can book that ensemble slot in your dream show.
Why don’t you own a house yet? *glances at vision board* Because you are saving your money to invest in a new business.
Why am I killing myself in this workout? *glances at vision board* Because I want to have a full calendar year that is completely injury free.
It’s so easy to get bogged down day to day and forget what we are working toward.
The key to an effective vision board is specificity.
Start by visualizing exactly what you want.
Maybe it’s your dream job, maybe it’s a financial goal, whatever it is, make it specific. Then flesh that out.
What would your pre-work routine look like?
What would your post work routine be?
What would your route to work be?
Where would you stop for coffee?
Be as specific as you can be.
Don’t just say “I want to perform professionally.” Ask: Where do you want to perform? What show do you want to do? What track do you want to perform? Don’t forget to feel it all too.
Experiencing the emotions of how this will feel will help this vision board continue to inspire you each time you look at it. So, What will it feel like to step onto that stage for the first time? What will you feel when you call your loved ones to tell them? How might you feel day to day?
Remember, you’re creating neural pathways while you do this, so be as deep and specific as possible. The key to this visualization is being so detailed that it becomes reality as you are working toward it.
(If you have a hard time staying focused on things like this, check out Keirstin’s free Mindset Course here and learn how to get into a good mental space for this type of work.)
After you have a very specific vision of what you want for this aspect of your life, the fun part begins. Scour the internet!
Find photos of what you want and again, be specific.
Her goals were: the Beijing Olympics, going to Paris, and a BMW.
When she created her vision board, she not only used a photo of a gold medal, but she found a photo of what the Beijing medals were going to look like.
Then, everyday, she looked at that medal and believed she won gold at Beijing and worked toward making that abstract belief into a reality.
Spoiler alert- she did win gold and then she went to Paris and then she bought herself that BMW!
Need a ‘real life’ example? Just look at DWL’s Coach Keirstin!
She created a vision board during the pandemic that not only had a photo of the Disney castle stage, but a photo of the exact track she wanted to represent on that stage.
Every time she wanted to give up on her workout she would look at that board and decide to keep moving toward what she wanted.
Now Keirstin performs on that very stage in that very track.
It wasn’t magic.
It was using a vision board as a daily tool to inspire action that progressed her to her desired outcome. But, it never would have worked if she didn’t believe it were true.
They say if you can dream it you can achieve it.
I’ve always chuckled at that if I’m honest.
My dreams are so big and the cynicism of being a realist tends to only let me dream to a point.
But after learning about Vision Boards through this perspective, I’m feeling newly inspired to let myself dream and, like that little girl watching the dancers in the wings, truly believe that those dreams will come true.
Come dream with us, we can’t wait to see what you manifest.
xox DWL Team
PS. Do you want to claim everything that’s already yours– fitness, nutrition, and mindset? Connect with our team of experts and join The Embodied Artist Academy, our personalized coaching program for performers.