I was recently thrilled by the success of one of my friends who had quietly been plugging away for all the years I’ve known her. On any given day she could be found on her humble farm with no arena, chipping away at her sport, without much fanfare and nary a complaint. She never had very naturally gifted horses, but she worked with what she had in a quiet, diligent, and systematic way.
When she made it around her first Advanced horse trial, she didn’t make a big fuss about it even though she had every right to – it’s a big accomplishment! It wasn’t an item to be checked off a list of lofty goals. Instead, it was just a part of her daily grind, the result of ceaseless days of up-and-at-’em despite horses and students and money coming and going, as they do.
What inspires me most about the top riders in the sport isn’t when they win a big championship or finally clinch an elusive medal or title. It’s the day after, when they’re back in the barn by 7 a.m. and on another horse. The system is in place regardless of what has been achieved, what’s left to achieve, or what goals they put in place. Their focus on their craft is so laser-sharp that writing down goals would be redundant and distracting.
For some people, goal-setting is a motivation tactic. It provides a driving force behind their daily efforts in their jobs or workouts. For others, the motivation is already there, sometimes overwhelmingly so, and a goal become corrosive when progress to that end isn’t made in a linear fashion.
It was important for me to realize that I’m a daily grind kind of girl, and goals cause me stress. I’m moving in the same direction with the same focus – with or without goals. The drive to become the best rider I can be is a constant companion, but becomes a burden on my shoulders when I quantify it on a timeline. I’ll continue setting a plan for each ride. I’ll be strategic about what I focus on with which horse and when. I’ll continue to be systematic in my training of myself and my horses.
Everything else will follow.