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New Year, New Skills

Welcome to the first Fire and Flow article of 2022!

We hope you all had a great break and got to spend it doing the things you love, with the people you love.

The new year often brings about reflection, rumination, and a handful of resolutions. We’d like to share our new year musings with you. This article is a little bit different from what we usually share, so grab yourself a cuppa, settle in, and get ready for a spot of introspection and philosophical thought.

Now, I’m not really one for ‘self-help’. You won’t find a Fear Fighter Manual or Speak Your Truth on my bookshelf, but I’ve signed up to receive an e-newsletter every month from Mark Manson, full of “life advice that doesn’t suck”. If you haven’t heard of him, I recommend asking Google to point you in his direction.

This month, I opened my emails and there was January’s newsletter titled ‘What in the world are you doing?’. In it, Manson discusses the new year ritual of making resolutions, setting goals, and something far more important; skills.

Every year, we make resolutions to lose weight or get a new job. Every year we set goals to become more motivated or pick up a new hobby. Unfortunately, we often forget about the skills required to achieve these goals, and by March, the goals have been forgotten and we’re back to doing the same thing we always did.

Two small pieces of paper sit on a black desk with a pen, one paper says 'new year resolutions'

Photo credit: Tim Mossholder

In his email, Mason says:

You can set goals for finding a relationship. But few people think about adopting and learning a new relationship skill. People say, "I want to meet someone special this year." No one says, "I want to get better at connecting with others," or "I want to learn how to be more vulnerable and own my flaws."

Manson goes on to discuss that things like self-awareness, managing emotions, setting boundaries, and finding a sense of purpose in what you do, are all skills that can be learned. He poses the questions:

      • What skills do you want to develop this year?
      • What are you improving at?
      • What are you learning or gaining?
      • What do you want to be good at that you’re not?

I know that I, for one, am guilty of making resolutions and setting goals that become distant memories in mere weeks. Almost every year since I first picked up rope dart, I’ve told myself ‘this year, I’m going to spend more time spinning dart’. And do I? Yes, no, maybe, I don’t know. I don’t time my flow sessions, so I have no way of knowing if I’ve spent more time with my dart than the previous year. And every year, I feel like I've failed at what I set out to do, even if maybe I did spend more time spinning dart.

I’m changing up my thought process this year and instead focusing on the skills I want to learn. And I’m not just talking about the ‘I want to learn how to do leg weaves with my rope dart’ kind of skills. While that is something I would like to learn, I know there are other skills I need to develop in order to learn leg weaves; ones that are a little more subtle, yet extremely important.

      • I want to learn to be more patient with myself.
      • I want to learn to accept that I won’t pick up new skills easily, every time.
      • I want to learn how to be persistent when something just isn’t clicking.
Wooden scrabble letters spell out 'keep trying'

Photo credit: Brett Jordan

When it comes to setting goals for yourself this year, don’t just think about the end result and set a broad goal based on that (‘I want to be better at practicing more regularly’). Think about the process of learning that technique and the more subtle skills required, and build your goals around those skills. (‘I want to learn how to manage my time more effectively’). I can guarantee they’ll help you in other areas of your life too.

One of the things I love most about flow arts is that the skills we learn and develop when spinning translate into other areas of our lives. It takes patience and persistence to learn a new technique/move/trick – it’s not common practice to continue swinging something around after you’ve hit yourself in the face with it over, and over, and over again. But if you want to learn that thing, you need to persevere through the bashing and be patient with the knowledge that (as Mainland so eloquently said) good things take time.

This is true for other areas of our lives too. It takes patience to maintain healthy relationships (among other things). It takes persistence to finally nab your dream job. It takes focus and determination to finish that project you’ve been working on. All skills that can be honed through flow arts.

Later in the year, we'll go over some of the other skills and benefits that flow arts provides, in case you need any more reasons to get spinning!

For now, I leave you with the same questions that Manson asked in his email:

      • What skills do you want to develop this year?
      • What are you improving at?
      • What are you learning or gaining?
      • What do you want to be good at that you’re not?
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