We’re now a couple of months into the New Year. 2015! Does it still feel shiny and new? Are you still as excited about your New Years Resolutions or goals set for the year? Can you remember your resolutions and goals? Are you looking at the date going ‘what the hell? How’d it get to here?!’?
The simple fact is, once we’re back into our regular lives, back at work, kids back at school etc. it’s easy to forget what you were so excited about a few weeks ago whilst you’re trying to get through the day/week/month! An old boss of mine used to often say ‘it’s hard to remember the original idea was to drain the swamp when the crocodiles are snapping at your arse’. It’s so terribly easy to get stuck in the day to day grind and come up with all the, usually valid, excuses in the world for not getting on with what you’d set out to achieve in 2015 with such excitement.
One of my recent aims has been to be better prepared around food. I’m on the road a lot and often not home until late and this means I’m either eating food which is both expensive and not the best choice I could make or going to the supermarket (my least favourite place in the world) three or four times a week. Each week I have the internal argument of ‘I’m too busy to sit down and plan a weeks meals and a shopping list’ with myself but each week I have been actually taking the time to do it and the result is bliss! I spend a couple of hours doing the list and the shopping and then every meal I go to make has everything at my fingertips or something’s already prepared when I get in at 9pm. I can’t count how much time I actually save by being prepared and how happy it makes me not having to go to the supermarket whilst filthy, sweaty and smelling like a horse! I’m pretty sure my fellow shoppers are happy about that one too.
We all have things we desperately want. We all have goals which excite and motivate us. Many of us have invested money in tools to help us achieve these aims. How many of us actually finish the book, complete the course with the same excitement as starting it, turn up for the membership for the full duration of it? Often, this money invested isn’t an insignificant amount and you look back in 6 or 12 months and you’re still at the same point.
Here’s the thing…those books/courses/memberships really do have the answers. They’re there, they’re chock full of the tools you need. What they don’t do is put the information into your brain (sleeping with the book under your pillow doesn’t work – I’ve tried it!) and it doesn’t DO the work for you.
I work with many nervous riders and riders returning to riding. Being a nervous rider is a very isolating thing to go through and it’s not a huge amount of fun being scared about something you love. The nervous riders I’ve worked with who’ve done something every single day improve out of sight. The ‘something’ may not even involve riding but they do something with their horse each day, or each day they have time available, every day isn’t always possible for people with jobs and families!
Writing an article which say’s DO IT in regards to your goals is hardly useful. I’m pretty sure you all know that. How do you DO IT is probably much more useful but even this varies in terms of what works best for each of us. Here are some tips on how to keep your 2015 goals and aims alive and fresh for the year. These goals my not just relate to your four-legged family but your personal, health and financial goals also.
- Tell someone about your goal! Having a friend or family member ask you how you’re doing with what you’re aiming for is a great way of checking in. You can ask them to check in with you regularly or leave it to just come up in conversation, whatever works best for you.
- Take some time each week to plan. Schedule time to sit and work out what you’ll work on each week. Diarise your plan if you need and make your family aware of that time also.
- Vision/Mood board. Preparing something like this isn’t for everyone but if you’re someone who needs some visual reminders of what you’re aiming for, get to it! Use photos, quotes, anything which inspires and reminds you of what you’re working towards!
- Don’t get discouraged. We all have days or weeks where things aren’t so great and there’s a huge temptation to throw in the. Take a step back, go back to your planning, remember why you wanted to do this in the first place and pick up where you left off.
- Re-evaluate your goals. I can’t stress this enough. If it’s really not working and making you genuinely unhappy it may be time to have a think about your original aim. It may be things have changed around it and it needs to be assessed to suit where you are now. This is NOT a backwards step, what would be a backwards step is continuing towards a goal which is now unsuitable/uninspiring/unachievable/making you unhappy. I’ve had a number of nervous riders come to the conclusion through some soul searching that they don’t want to ride anymore and they’ve moved onto doing something else with their horses and they continue to enjoy them.
- Keep a diary. Again, this is not for everyone. Jot a few notes down about each ride, how your horse felt, what you worked on, how you felt, whatever you like! This is a great tool for looking back over when you may not be feeling so great and checking in with where you were a week/month/6 months ago. Assessing from ride to ride makes it hard to see improvement, when looking over a longer period of time it’s great to see changes.
- Take photos/videos. Similar to number 6, take regular photos or snippets of video to assess how your horse is working, how his muscles are developing. For those of you who’re more visual learners this may work better than number 6 for you.
- Break the goal down. If your goal is a big’un then it may be hard work keeping super excited about something which seems so far away. Break that sucker down into bite sized pieces. Use your planning time to mark in smaller milestones so you’ve a path to follow. How small are the milestones? As small as you want or need, this is YOUR work remember. What works for someone else may not work for you.
- Reward yourself. The good thing about having smaller steps along the way to your goal is you get to reward yourself! Make a list of things you don’t do for yourself very often, a massage, a night with your favourite movie or book, a meal out, a piece of lusted after tack, it doesn’t have to be a big $ reward, just something for you.
- Have fun! Finally, the majority of us are doing this because we love and enjoy it. Yes, there’s work and sometimes that’s hard work but we do need to ensure our work with our horses is above all, enjoyable.