It’s New Year’s Day, time for resolutions! I actually love this time of year, because I believe it is so important to take the time to reflect on the success of the past year and create exciting visions for the year to come. That’s why I decided to make today’s post all about setting goals and how we can use the goal setting process in regards to our horses and riding.
The first step of setting a goal is to do a little day dreaming. A goal is just a dream with a deadline, so start by thinking about what you really want and picture it in your mind. Imagine the feeling you would have accomplishing that dream. Your dream may be big, like riding in the Olympics, or it may be a simple one, like being able to canter with complete confidence. Just make sure that your dream is really your own, not something that you feel you should do because of what other people around you expect. Also, don’t be content with average, because average is as close to the bottom as it is to the top. Strive to be the best you can be at whatever you are doing.
Once you can vividly picture your dream and you are excited about it, now it’s time to break it down and take action. Start by brainstorming a list of what you would need to do to accomplish this dream. Here is a sample list to get you started: schedule a lesson with a new trainer, read a new book, commit to riding three days a week, save money for a new saddle… (maybe sign-up for the 2014 Balanced Riding Course ;)) You get the idea – write down anything that comes to mind as something that would need to be done to make your dream a reality.
The next step is to think about what on that list you want to do in 2014. This will be your goal. Be reasonable, but stretch yourself at the same time. Write it down and post it where you can see it everyday. Maybe you will accomplish your big dream in 2014, or perhaps you will accomplish part of it. (For example, if your big dream is riding in the Olympics, a good goal for 2014 may be to move up to the next level in your discipline or to save enough money and do a clinic with an Olympic rider you aspire to.)
Now, sit back and look at your goal, and think about what is the first step? What could I do right now to get started? It is important to take some immediate action because it’s easier to build on accomplishment and once you have momentum you will keep moving closer to that dream. Go on amazon and order a book, make a phone call, open your planner and block out time for the barn, anything to make progress right now. Taking action is the most important step and it will empower you to keep moving forward.
You also want to create a new habit to keep you making progress on a regular schedule. It may take some willpower to create that habit, but once it is a part of your routine, you will start doing it without thought. Pick regular days to go to the barn, or start reading a horse book or magazine every night before going to bed, or do a set amount of exercise when you wake up each morning. Make it something you can stick to, then just do it!
It’s important to take big dreams and chunk them down into actionable steps, but don’t ever forget to keep the feeling alive that you will have when you accomplish your goal or your dream. Celebrate every step of the way and keep it fun, because this is how you will stay motivated all year!
If something doesn’t work out as planned, change your approach. Remember that there is no such thing as failure until you quit, so see every problem and every challenge as just another learning opportunity.
If you start to fall behind or can’t find the energy to keep taking action on your goals, go back to dreaming, and reconnect with the feelings you associate with achieving your dream. Think about what you have already achieved, then take the next step forward. It is always about taking just that very next step. Leave a comment and tell us about your goals for 2014.
Have fun with your goal setting, and Happy New Year!
p.s. Here are a few of my favorite quotes to inspire your goal setting…
“Set impossible challenges, then catch up with them.” Richard Branson
“If you seek the great, seek it in the small, the hidden.” Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling
“ If you know intrinsically that this is possible, you just have to find out how to make it possible, which you can’t do ahead of time.” Anonymous