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A new year usually means new year resolutions, we start the year with great enthusiasm to achieve great things but how can we make sure that we stick to these resolutions and not have forgotten about them by the end of January.
It’s much better to set specific goals rather than resolutions.
“A goal should scare you a little and excite you a lot”Joe Vitale
Goal setting can be tricky and as the quote says above “a goal should scare us a little and excite us a lot” we want to make sure it is achievable and pushes us out of our comfort zone.
Once you have decided on your specific goal that you want to achieve get yourself a notebook or diary just for that goal, where you can log all of your progress towards achieving the goal as well as having the main goal set out in there to remind you every time you look at the notebook.
Also having your specific goal displayed somewhere like on a kitchen whiteboard or above your work desk, or a noticeboard in your tack room will act as a constant reminder to you to help keep you motivated.
Keeping a log of your progress is essential so if you feel like you have lost track you can look back at where you were to start and realise how much you’ve already achieved, plus, it can help as guidance and a reminder of how we can improve ourselves to achieve our goals.
For example: If you have a show jumping lesson with your horse and come away with a few corrections to work on, write them down to look back to (ideally before you leave the venue and it’s still fresh in the mind), as chances are by the time you have got home, sorted out the horse, done your food shop, collected the kids from school or whatever, there’s a chance that when you next go to ride you’ll be thinking ‘hang on, what was it again that I had to work on?’
A common example of a new year goal is to lose weight. But to set a much more specific goal and break down the main goal into smaller more attainable goals and guidelines, we need to know:
If your goal is fitness related then go check out our Horse Rider fitness Blog for some inspiration and guidance.
A horse related example might be: I want to compete in a BE90 (British eventing). This will be your driving force, this establishes motivation!.
So then from the goal of competing in a BE90 we can start to assess, how do we want to perform in a BE90, will we be happy to just complete, do we want a double clear or a top 20 placing.
From there, you can start to assess to process, this will be your Guiding Force and establishes direction to achieve the set goal.
“We are what we repeatedly do, therefore excellence is not an act but a habit”Aristotle
If we use the example from above of competing in a BE90 then we can choose an event, so we have a specific set date for this rather than just saying this season. Then we can set ourselves smaller goals on our way to helping to achieve our main goal. (Compete in a BE90)
For example, It could be that you decide to compete in an 80cm eventer challenge in March as your first event out to start the journey to reach your goal, which is the BE90 in July.
From there you can write down what you thought went well on that day, and where improvements can be made in order to help you on the way to achieve the end main goal.
Improvements could be as specific as you didn’t get to the event early enough, so ran out of time to walk the course, or your warmup didn’t get the horse engaged enough so at the next event you will ride a minimum of 50 transitions in the warm-up.
This is one we are all guilty of worrying about and that we could all do with improving. How many times before you go into a dressage ring or show jumping round are you worrying about what people may be thinking of your riding, worrying that its windy, worrying that the horse is going to spook at all the banners, I could go on (for a long time!)
Seeing as we can’t ask people to shut their eyes or take spooky banners down or wait till a rainstorm has passed. What we really need to focus on is the elements that are in our control, ask yourself when I perform at my best, I ride/am like…
Also plan elements like, when you go into the ring what will your path be before the bell, how do I want to use this time to best effect.
Also, being careful we do not use uncontrollable elements as an excuse for our poor performance. It is ok to say: the horse was spooking at the boards, if you come up with a plan for improvement, i.e. I need to hire out an arena with boards before my next competition, or I need to ride the horse with more inside leg in my next test, so in some way, progress is always being made.
“A dream becomes a goal when action is taken toward its achievement.”— Bo Bennett
“You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results”James Clear, Atomic habits
Let us be honest, if we don’t really want something enough, we live in such a busy world and with so many distractions that any goal could quickly be forgotten about.
Write down why you want to achieve your set goal and how it will make you feel if you do achieve it, if it does not make you want to get straight out and start working on it then it is probably not exciting enough.
Be aware that achieving your goal will take hard work and not always instant results, and some days will be better than others. Also, its very important to realise that if you fall off track slightly it does not mean you have lost all your progress that you have made, (‘One hot day doesn’t make a summer’). Truth is things get in the way sometimes, whether it be injury, weather (frozen ground means you cannot ride), or family and work commitments.