Setting Goals To Help You Develop Into A Better Rider

I’m a big believer that you can achieve anything you want from life if you have focus and work hard. A huge part of defining what you want your life to look like is setting goals. If you’re fortunate enough to have arrived at where you want to be, the goal setting doesn’t end. The only way you can continue to grow as a person and in your profession is if you keep moving the goal posts.

Dressage is no different. If you want to be successful it requires clear goals and a path on how you are going to achieve them. For me, setting goals isn’t just about ticking off items on a list and arriving at my end destination. It’s about setting goals that create the life I want and who I develop into along the way. After all, why work towards getting from A-B if you can’t enjoy the journey along the way?

If you’re in a slump, or you are staying stagnant in your dressage success you simply need to challenge yourself to step outside your comfort zone. You don’t get anywhere without challenging yourself. Part of this is also about understanding that success isn’t smooth sailing and failing is all part of it. But to get to where you want to go, you have to get on the road and start moving in the direction you desire.

Here are some tips on how to get started

1. Get inspired

Often people find themselves in a rut because they lack inspiration or a desire to improve. It’s easy to do as you get caught up in the every day, but it’s vital you find something that lights some level of passion within you. If you know you want to compete and move up the levels, then start to plan how you’re going to do this. Head to ribbon day, competitions, watch successful riders, read and get yourself in the right mindset to make that happen.


2. Set goals which create a journey

We tend to get fixated on creating goals that are more about the destination than the journey. Your end goal shouldn’t be solely what you focus on, it should be there to simply provide you with direction. Otherwise you spend all your time trying to attain that goal and forget to enjoy the journey along the way.

Think about goals that will help create a compelling journey for you. Establish what it is you want to do, what excites you and what you value in life. Once you know these, regardless of whether you reach that end goal of trotting down the centre line at nationals or riding grandprix it won’t seem so scary because you’ve experienced an awesome journey getting there.


3. Take a step back

When we become so fixated on a goal, we tend to get wrapped up in our own world. We lack the time to catch up with our friends, we end up over training as we want it all now and we can lose sight of our values and life just becomes one big fog.

To avoid this, take a step back and have a look at how your life is progressing. Is it what you dreamt of? Are you living your life by your values? Do you like the person you have become or are turning into? Are you creating balanced enjoyable weeks for yourself and not to mention your horse, or are you going round and round in circles day in and day out and not progressing anywhere.

I know it’s easy to get caught up in the everyday and you can lose sight of who you are and the greater purpose of why you’re taking this particular journey. That’s why taking a step back for a moment and analyzing your life and if its balanced can be beneficial.


4. Be flexible

If this goal is no longer exciting you, or it’s become a drain on your life, then change it.

Becoming flexible will help you change your direction into one that excites you. It’s not necessarily about changing the actual goal; it’s about changing the journey to get there. This could be simply a change of trainer, heading to clinics or trying out a new show to compete in.

Remember, the goal is just the direction, a compass if you like. The beauty is in how you get there, what you learn along the way and who you connect to. That’s what’s going to be the reward and help you enjoy your riding so much more.


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