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Achieving Long-Term Goals: Taking The Time To Enjoy Your Success


Julia is a champion dancer with the Teelin School of Irish Dance in Maryland. She recently came back to competing after a seven-year hiatus, and is still working on adjusting to being back in the competitive world of Irish dance. When she isn’t training, she works as a journalist in Washington, D.C. You can connect with her on twitter, where she goes by@RussellJuliaD.

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 8.19.02 AMetting and reaching goals is not an uncommon occurrence when you participate in a sport like Irish dance, especially at a competitive level. With every practice and every feis, there is an opportunity to achieve goals like not getting an arms comment or being complimented on your extension after working on it for a while. But achieving longer-term, bigger goals doesn’t happen every day, and part of rewarding yourself for working toward those big goals and achieving them is to take some time to bask in your success. So pardon me while I bask for just a moment…
I have been dancing since I was 5 years old. That means I have been at this for 21 years. It took me longer than others to really hit my stride — I got into prelim when I was 12, but it wasn’t until I was about 16 that I really started to place consistently in the top five at feises. I won my first prelim competition at the last feis before the Oireachtas my senior year of high school, and after that Oireachtas I only feised a few more times as things like senior prom and summer break took up my schedule before I went away to college. I always thought that I would continue practicing on my own when I was away at school, but I made new friends and found new activities that kept me busy. I don’t regret that at all — being away from dance and my family and learning to be my own, independent person was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.
I did have one regret, though. Getting to call yourself a champion is pretty awesome, I will admit, but not being able to call myself an open champion, especially when I’d gotten so close, always bothered me a bit.
And now here I am. Back at the studio multiple times a week, ordering tan towels on Amazon, obsessing over matching my step dancing with the other members of my four-hand team and gearing up for my eighth Oireachtas. I never thought I would get back into dancing as much as I have, and I definitely never thought I would be as successful at competitions as I have been, especially competing at feises with girls who are sometimes 10 years younger than me. But after getting my (second) first first place this past spring and my second first place earlier this month, I can finally call myself an open champion.
This is a serious life goal for me that I have worked really hard and waited a long time for. So it is something that I am going to try my best to appreciate for as long as I possibly can. Obviously right now, I always have the Oireachtas at the back of my mind. Being in open definitely puts more pressure on me as far as my expectations go, but every time those types of thoughts creep in to my mind I just try to take a second and think, “Hey, it doesn’t matter. You’re an open champion.” And no matter what happens in Orlando two weeks from now (oh my gosh, two weeks from now???), 2014 will always be the year I finally achieved my very, very long-term goal of getting into open.
So next time you achieve one of your long-term goals, bask in it. Take all the time you can to appreciate your accomplishment and enjoy your success. I waited a decade to achieve my long-term goal, so don’t take it for granted — you never know when you might achieve another one!
Photo credit: Image is courtesy of and belongs to author.

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