One of my new Facebook friends asked me for some advice tonight and I realized it might be incredibly useful to codify it as an article for other’s as well. Here’s the query:
I would like to start the 30 day challenge. I was wondering if you had any advice that will help me get the most out of it. I’m not trying to climb the trick ladder. I want to spin and have the poi go exactly where I intend in all of the space around me. I like learning tricks and then practice on slowing them down as much as I can.
Some time ago, I learned a little bit about well defined outcomes, a concept in NLP called a well-formed outcome. The steps below are mostly just borrow from this NLP concept while the examples are much more specific to building a flow challenge. I have done at least 10 different 30 day challenges over the last 2 years using this process and being clear going into them has really assisted me in staying on target and getting through them mostly with overwhelming success. In answer to the request above, I present these 6 Steps to Creating Your 30 Day Challenge.
Define the outcome in a positive manner. Consider that saying, “I don’t want to drop my poi anymore” would not fit the requirements and instead, you’d might want to say, “I want to make 100 catches in a row” or some other thing you want to do instead of not dropping your poi. When you apply your focus toward creating what you want, your attention is directed and harnessed toward that outcome. This is a tremendous contrast to saying what you don’t want because if you don’t want to drop your poi, it could be replaced with a myriad of things, none of which is clear or specific.
Make sure achieving the goal is in your control. Similar to creating a positive outcome, in order to achieve it, you’ll want to be responsible for the results. For example, if your outcome is to find 10 people with whom to practice partner poi, that’s somewhat out of your control and therefore has a dependence that doesn’t serve you when defining your challenge. Instead, saying, “I want to show up in partner practice as fully as I’m capable” is something in your control and therefore an could be an effective goal.
Define the context in which you will create your challenge. One aspect of the challenge is that it will take place over 30 days though that is a very small part of the goal. You’ll want to consider where you will practice, how frequently, for how long and with what props you will be challenging yourself. While the 30 day duration is clearly defined, will you practice one time a day? In the morning? Lunch time? Evening? Is your challenge to use every tool you play with each day? Is your goal to be outside when you practice? Indoors? Asking these questions helps you hone in on where to bring your attention and understanding these aspects of your challenge will help you stay on target to meet your goals more effectively since you’re clear on what you’re looking to accomplish.
What evidence will show you that you have achieved your challenge? As you’re moving through the 30 day challenge, clearly one aspect of it will be to get through the full 30 days. But at the end, how will you know if you’re actually been successful in achieving your goals? As part of this goal setting process, you’ll want to be as specific as possible. For example, instead of saying, “I want to practice tosses,” You might say something more specific like, “I want to do 50 tosses every day with one of these 5 combinations I’m practicing: no beat toss weave turn around left; no beat toss weave turn around right; thread the toss; wiggle with under the leg toss with both hands; and the no beat same direction toss with extension while doing a grapevine moving left.” This list is very specific and clear and affords you a measurable way of knowing you have achieved your goal. Here’s another example. The other night in class a client said his practice goal was to, “Spin more fire.” I then asked him, “Since you have only spun once in 3 months, does that mean spinning twice in the next 3 months?” I then asked him to create a more specific goal that he could achieve so he would be able to measure his success with evidence, to which he responded, “To spin fire 2 times a week.” By clarifying the details of your goals, your practice can be tailored to meet your needs and move you toward success. If doing a certain number of tosses is important, perhaps using a video camera to keep track will help you not have to count during the practice, thus allowing you to focus on the toss, not how many of them you have done. Consider building additional measures into your goals to allow you the clearest success. One of my goals is to post video of my practice every month, something that is clearly measurable.
Identify the resources you will need to achieve your goal. When you consider resources, this includes what you may need within you as well as things external to your being. If you want to learn a new prop but don’t yet own the tool, that will be a limiting factor in your success. Similarly, if you want to be able to spin poi while jumping out of a plane and you’re afraid of heights, even if you have the poi and the jump planned, you may not have what you need mentally to actually go out the door of the plane to achieve your goal and it may require you do some mental work to allow yourself the freedom to feel comfortable jumping out of a plane. Resources may also include a peer support group — maybe even someone like an accountability partner with whom you connect each day to confirm you’ve done your practice.
What is the impact of you completing your challenge? When considering the impact look at both the positives and negatives. Maybe you did have those 50 tosses every day for 30 days. But are you doing them in a room where, if you don’t catch the prop it lands loudly, echoes and wakes people up in the middle of the night? If so, the cost of lost rapport from the person(s) you wake may not be worth the practice. It is therefore important to think through all these steps to ensure you will have a net positive impact through the results rather than results that are out of alignment with your deeper desires and subsequently, something you will not stick with.
If you’re having a hard time getting started with figuring out the answers to these questions, maybe connect with someone on line or a friend with whom you practice, sit down and go through these questions and ideas together. Through conversation, you’ll likely uncover your outcomes more clearly and move toward the results you truly desire. For my early stages in my 3 year challenge, the 30 Day Flow Challenge group on Facebook was incredibly helpful and may also be a resource to help support your practice.
If you’re ready for fire safety lessons via private instruction, want to try Zero to Fire in 4 Hours!, want to join our next beginner class or have other questions, contact GlitterGirl directly or subscribe to our newsletter for mailbox delivery of this and other articles written by Temple of Poi founder and visionary, GlitterGirl, who has been a full time flow arts coach and instructor since 2002. If you seek professional guidance associated with creating a safe performance, obtaining a permit in San Francisco or other personalized coaching, contact GlitterGirl directly for a free consultation (GlitterGirl <that pretty little ‘at’ symbol> TempleOfPoi <daaaaaaaught> com).