If you are like me, when you first took up this great sport of darts, you were excited, full of energy, and ready to practice every day to get better.
Then something happened along the way. Focus was lost. Practice gave way to other things. Many of you have read my articles and are aware of my renewed efforts at practice after 20 years of shooting darts and being only a decent 'A' level player. Since joining SEWA, I have renewed my interest in practice and in becoming a better player. This article is as much about my renewed interest as it is about the things I have learned to maintain my energy and focus on practicing and playing this great sport we all love.
Before we begin, I'd like to invite you to think for a moment about the difference between the state of mind we had when we first took up the sport of darts and the state of mind we have when we lose our focus. I see the difference as "passion." When we first begin, we imagine getting better and playing with friends or in events. We practice because it is all new and exciting. Then, as time passes, these things become ordinary. We do not grow as rapidly and our passion fades.
The reason for this loss of passion is that our goals have not been clearly defined. Our original goal was "to get better" or "to have fun." Well, we soon got better and began having fun so the desire to practice diminished. To renew our passion and interest we must choose to renew our goals.
We must "choose" to renew goals. Before I go any further, there is a big difference between the words "need to, have to" and "choose to." The words "need to" and "have to" facilitate thinking that is non-motivational. They are passive ideas to which we "must" respond and thus create in us a psychological lack of control over our environments and ourselves. It is difficult to practice when one feels like one "has to" or "needs to." It is always easier to practice when one "chooses to," and the choice to practice or not is a direct reflection of the goals we set for ourselves. Setting the right goals will also help set the passion.
A Passion For Practice
A lack of passion is generally caused by not having a clear or realistic goal. An effective long-term goal will help us establish a plan of action for short-term goals. Practicing darts for 8 hours a day, may not be realistic for someone who just wants to join a league and win a few matches; however, if we want to be a top professional, 8 hours a day may be very realistic indeed.
So the first question to ask is, "Why do I play darts?" When we answer this question we know what we want to get from the sport and how far we want to progress. Knowing "why" we play is of great benefit in establishing realistic long and short-term goals. If we don't have a goal and know where we want to go, we may end up someplace else. Once our goal is established, we must work to keep it alive. It is through this work that passion is maintained or re-established. Here are some ideas to help promote the passion and keep it alive.
- Review goals daily. We must ask ourselves, "What have I done today to get what I want tomorrow? Where am I going? Making a conscious choice to think about our goals moment-to-moment is extremely beneficial. Talking to others as often as we can about our goal is another way to keep our passion. By telling others we set ourselves up for accountability. Talking about our plans regularly will help us to stay focused.
"But wait! If I talk about my goals all the time people are going to think I am nuts." While this may be true, one trick to staying motivated is to find people with similar goals, similar interests and hang out with them. Listen to their stories, learn from them, and share. If we do not have a group of friends that play darts, it's time to add some to our lives.
We can become the goal and develop a moment-by-moment awareness of our goal. Instead of being a "person who plays darts," we can become a "dart players." People chose to maintain this moment-to-moment focus are less likely to lose their focus and more likely to be passionate about what they are doing but it requires conscious effort.
Effort means keeping the computer on a dart chat site throughout the day. Keeping dart books and dart magazines lying about so that you can see them. Keeping an out chart in you wallet and another in a shirt pocket. It means finding creative ways to remind our selves of our goal moment to moment. Getting a dart tattoo may be a bit excessive; however, I have seen it done. The point is to eat, drink and breathe our goal 24 hours a day.
- Learn from mistakes. There is no "failure." That word and words like it must be erased from our vocabulary forever. We did not fail to practice yesterday, we chose not to practice. Now, the question is, why did we make that choice? Is our goal realistic or too much?
Should we start over again or is skipping a practice once in a while in line with our goal? We must each decide for ourselves what we really want. But if we are not doing things to get what we really want there are only two possibilities. One: We don't really want them.
Or Two: We are lying to others and ourselves.
There is no failure in losing a game or a tournament as long as we find the lesson. Each loss is a stepping-stone to our future goal.
Losses are a part of everyone's life and we must understand the value of learning from their them. Allowing our losses to motivate and inspire us into perfecting our games. If we miss a target at a crucial moment, we learn that we need to practice that target or perhaps calm our nerves. Focusing on it allows us to learn so we do not need to repeat the lesson again.
- Avoid the negatives! Nothing could be more true than the expression, "Misery loves company." Negative people whine and cry to other negative people. That is not to say that everyone does not find themselves down in the dumps every now and again. The point is to surround ourselves with people who understand this and have learned to pick themselves up and keep moving forward. These are the people that will encourage us to continue along our journey. Negativity is a trap waiting to happen. It is seductive, alluring, and always the easy way to look at things. It is always easier and more comfortable to blame another person or situation for a loss or our own shortcomings than it is to face them and work on them. Do not get caught up in the negatives!
- Allow miracles to happen. What if we could be better than we ever imagined right now? If we allow ourselves to believe this, believe that it is possible. Amazing things can happen in our lives. We don't necessarily have to run around shouting, "I'm better than I have ever been in my life!"
Chances are we are not about to believe that anyway, but it may be very useful to open your mind to the possibility of showing up better than you have ever been at any moment. I cannot count the number of times I have been shooting darts above my ability only to stop myself by thinking, "Wow, I'm shooting way above my ability." Wham! And that is the end of that! We can make the choice to "Know" that amazing darts are possible at any moment and allow the miracles to happen! The only barriers to success are our own self-limitations.
These are the ideas that I have kicked around for the past year. Some have watched as my averages have slowly increased. I owe this success to hanging around a great group of people. People who help motivate me knowingly or not. I owe my improvements as much to my own efforts as to this great group of people and the support I have found. For those of you just joining or for those of you seeking real growth, I hope this helps. This is how I have done it. I've not reached my goal yet, but I am improving. Were I to never achieve my goal, I am content with the journey. I have met great people. I have achieved more than I would have without my goal. I am happy with my achievements. I wish you all success in achieving your goals as well.