I’ve always struggled with goal-setting. It wasn’t something I practiced much when I was young. I never sat down with a trainer or coach or teacher and discussed what I wanted to achieve or how I would do so. Usually, I’d decide I wanted to do something- compete at a show, attempt a Pony Club rating, enter the state agri-science fair- and I would do it. Sometimes it would work out. I had a lot of successful shows, I was a C-2 Pony Clubber, I won the state agri-science fair. There were more times it didn’t work out, though. I failed my C-2 rating once. I had lots and lots of terrible-to-mediocre shows. It never occurred to me that I could be devising better plans and practices for accomplishing things I wanted to achieve!
This sort of laissez-faire attitude about goals has persisted in my adult life, despite the fact that I know a lot more about goal-setting than I used to. Over the years, I’ve attempted to fix that attitude. I set them enthusiastically in 2017, 2016, and 2015. And I accomplished many of them, and that definitely felt good!
Looking back on those goals is helpful, because I have the perspective of time to show me what did and didn’t work over the years. Setting a ton of ultra-specific goals does not work for me. More general goals that have multiple paths to success is better for me. I’ve also noticed that over time, my goals have become less demanding. Instead of saying, “I will lose 50 pounds,” my goals are now things like, “I will go to yoga class three times per week,” and “I will eat at home five nights per week”. These softer goals are better for my mental health, I think.
Horse-specific goals are harder for me to set these days. Moe and Gina basically have no competitive goals; I would like them to remain sound and happy and suited for trail riding and hunting as long as possible. That’s not something I have a ton of control over, though. I can make sure they have appropriate veterinary and farrier care and are kept in good condition. But they’re still old. Candy is difficult for me to get excited about. I should probably sell her because I don’t like her that much and have yet to persuade Johnny of the necessity of a fourth horse. Candy intrigues me and I continue to plug away with the same dogged optimism that permeates the rest of my life. It’s hard to be enthusiastic and set lofty goals for such a tough horse, though.
I also don’t have any huge, ambitious goals right now. Things like a USDF Bronze Medal seem so far away as to be pointless, and while once upon a time, my life goal was to ride at Kentucky, I’ve concluded that’s unrealistic and possibly too scary. I love foxhunting, enjoy trail riding, and don’t feel like I need to accomplish anything. I’m happy (even if parts of this post don’t sound like it, haha), and isn’t that the ultimate goal?
That’s not to demean my fellow bloggers to who are all about the goals- please don’t read it that way! I love seeing what people are doing and how they’re doing it. It’s inspiring and it often gives me new ideas and perspectives. I can’t wait to see what’s accomplished in 2019, whether it’s earning a Silver Medal, moving up to a new level, or simply enjoying the ride.