The Mind of Dan Hardy: The New Year

Fightland Blog

By Dan Hardy

I'm sorry it's taken so long to get this second post up. It's something I endeavor to improve upon over the coming year (more on that in a moment).

So my last post left us at fight night at UFC on Fox 9 in mid-December. The fighter I was cornering, Mac Danzig, lost his fight, so obviously the evening didn't go as we had hoped, but I have faith that it unfolded as it was supposed to. After a few hours of sleep we drove straight back to Vegas to unpack and repack, ready to leave almost immediately for the UK. 

I always enjoy returning home during the holidays--back to my family and place of birth to take stock of the last 12 months and prepare for the next. This holiday period was far busier than usual, with frequent trips to the capital for TV things and meetings regarding an exciting opportunity for this coming year. We did manage to squeeze in a short trip to Amsterdam to smell the flowers before returning home for a little more work, though … always refreshing!

I'm back in Vegas now and running headfirst into February with my list of goals and challenges for this year. During this time away from the Octagon I have been determined to start working on the many other things I would like to achieve during my life. The truth is, I've been failing. But not for any unworthy reason! I've been clearing out some old programming and bad habits and getting rid of dead weight. The term I've been using, which I feel most fitting, is “leveling up.” 

It's time to streamline because I can feel things gathering speed, and I can't have anything holding me back. As December dwindled I sat in my tower overlooking Nottingham and contemplated how much has happened this past year, all of the things that have changed around me, forcing me to adapt. I'm in a new place and everything moving forward will be very different. This is exciting but it’s hard to find a target to aim at, something external to strive for and focus my energies upon. 

So to set some goals this year I've had to look inward and start working towards some of my lifetime ambitions (of which there are far too many, even for the 120 years I've predicted for my lifespan!). I know realistically some things aren't achievable in a year but if I begin walking in that route, it will be a lot closer than if I keep staring in its general direction and wishing. I'm trying to find general ones that can be worked on daily without encroaching on whatever else is happening.

I've set a couple of physical challenges to work towards, such as freestanding handstand push-ups and muscle-ups without any momentum. I also plan on taking my flexibility up a level: I'm aiming for splits in all three directions and full lotus. I've never had flexible hips or knees and my balance when inverted has always sucked. The more I think about those techniques the more it annoys me that I can't already do them. 

This is kind of the spearhead of a more yogic approach to physical conditioning in general. Less of the damaging training I did a few years ago--pushing myself too hard, getting injured, and feeling beaten up all of the time. I'm interested in pushing some of the boundaries of my strength and flexibility but in a calmer, more conscious, more mature way.

My physical state has varied so much in recent years that taking control of that is now a priority. No more drastic jumps and drops in weight, no fluctuations of diet, just consistent healthy living. My worst days of diet now are still a million miles away from even two years ago, but if I'm honest with myself (which I'm always working on!) they are still bad days. Just because the cookies are now vegan doesn't mean I can't eat too many! 

Along with my general physical targets I have a few other daily challenges to work on. I want to challenge my intellect and ability to relate to others. Hopefully over the year they will become habit, leading to a more productive and creative life. Doing so should improve my relationships and interactions with people. And the number one goal I have is relevant to everyone that has made it this far into the post: I will write more consistently.

My friend Josh has been waiting on this piece and I've had it somewhere between a quarter and three-quarters finished about eight times in the last two weeks. The thought process behind telling you this, and the rest of it for that matter, is to keep me honest. If I say that I'm going to write more consistently in this post and then don't send anything over to Josh for another month, then I look like a real prick.

I used to write a lot in training camp to keep me sane. Partially because it was a good distraction from obsessing about the fight and partly because it was all I had the energy to do in the evening. Now I feel like I'm going in 10 different directions at the same time, and sitting down to write about it seems exhausting. Training camp was so much more linear--I could coast through large parts of the day in autopilot without really challenging my brain. 

I heard somewhere that you should never write more than you read, so I have a stack of books to get through. This is my next goal and another thing I gave more time to during training camp. My mum reads at an astonishing speed (it's somewhere between human speed and the movie Short Circuit), and I always think about how much more I could learn burning through books in the same way. She insists that with practice I too can attain such a skill but I'm not so sure.

Keeping the reading-to-writing ratio in mind, I would also like to change my relationship to speaking and listening. I aim to talk less and listen more. This might be difficult because I talk a lot, but I do think there are a lot of benefits to this. It will force me to ask more questions instead of always leading conversations, which is generally a favorable trait to have.

By listening more I may also learn more, by hearing something that would have otherwise gone unsaid had I been rambling on at the time--helping me evolve a little and establish a deeper connection with the people I meet. Since practicing this I have had three really enjoyable conversations with three drivers in three major cities. All of which were fascinating; every one of them shared stories about their lives, their journey so far, and what they hope for in the future.

I was astonished how quickly this began to work and how positive I felt after stepping out of those cars. It started my year off in the right direction. Positive reinforcement is good for reprogramming old habits. I feel like January was a solid foundation for a huge 2014. My goals seem very clear in my head now that I’ve committed them to type. I have identified the things that I believe will make me better physically, socially, and intellectually over the next 52 weeks, and I plan on building my year around them.

Check out the first dispatch from the mind of the Outlaw:

The Night Before