In the past I have looked at goal setting as something I do in my business life rather than personal life. With the advent of personal and life coaches it has become, dare I say it, a bit trendy to set goals for just about everything.
Towards the end of last year I was thinking back on my competition season and reflecting that perhaps I hadn’t achieved what I wanted to and why was that? I came up with lots of reasons; business took priority yet again, I had various bouts of illness/seemed to be knackered all of the time, when I did have some downtime then lying on a beach or spending time with family was more of a priority than a lesson or a competition.
But also when you have your horses at home and you are not on a ‘professional’ yard it can be easy to let things drift. Time goes by and we all get older at what seems a very rapid rate!!
Lets face it our horses are not sitting there thinking “Why haven’t I reached PSG yet” they are concentrating on where the next meal is coming from!! But as riders and owners we feel a certain pressure to do the best for our horses and see them achieve their potential. So how can we keep on track?
By setting a few goals or maybe they are more written aspirations (?) I thought I could keep myself a bit more on track. I have used SMART goals, KPI’s, and developed sets of metrics to measure success (or not) in the business world. But what suits that environment might not be so applicable to me or you and the horsey journey.
So here are a few things that work for me and I hope will help you.
- Write it down!!! Whatever it is that you want to do, the chances are if you write it down you have better odds of achieving it.
- Use a traditional diary or calendar on your phone and put your goal and the steps you need to take into it.
- Talk to friends and have a supportive group to help each other along the way to achieving your goals. Like writing something down, the more you articulate your goal the nearer you are to achieving it.
- If you have a regular trainer/coach then involve them in helping you. If they are super helpful they might get involved in sending you some messages and keeping you on track.
- Make sure that your main goal isn’t too big and you can break it down into smaller steps with dates.
What about actually managing and achieving the goals?
For me this is where SMART can be useful. I have used SMART in the past and will do again. It suits a fairly formal approach to goal setting and can be a good tool if you like a bit of structure to your life.
- Specific – what do you want to achieve? To ride a novice test, compete in a BE90, go for a hack, improve your half pass?
- Measurable – how will you know when you meet your goal? When you have been to the competition? When you have achieved a certain percentage?
- Attainable – Is it possible to meet this goal with effort by your timeline? So when will you ride your novice test or compete in a BE90? What are the steps you need to take to attain your goal? Is the goal too easy, too hard? You need to find a balance that is something that will stretch you a bit and give you a sense of achievement when you make it.
- Relevant – is this goal worth working to accomplish? Is it something that really means a lot to me? Are you motivated by this goal?
- Timely – what is the deadline you set to meet your goal?
An example of a big goal might be mine which is – to ride a PSG on Elena by the end of the year. I haven’t set a specific percentage to achieve as that can be a poor measure. Although saying I want a score over 60% is measurable it is very binary and also can be subject to problems with judges, weather, feeling nervous and a whole host of other problems. So mine is purely to get that tailcoat on and complete a PSG and have fun!
Within this big goal are some steps along the way. For Elena and I we are at Advanced Medium and some of our changes are distinctly dodgy so that is one of the areas I know I need to work on. So intermediary steps are exercises and lessons to improve the changes, some work on the pirouettes, going out and doing an Advanced class with some tempi changes in and also then doing Advanced 102 or 105. I have notes in my diary for each of these steps, I assess where we are at the end of each week and mull over whether I need to change anything. The end of the week is also a great time to pat yourself on the back that you have moved forward towards your end goal.
- Write it down
- Consider using a structure like SMART or similar
- Get together with others and help each other
- Break down big goals into smaller steps and goals
- Enjoy your journey