I was hitching up the horse trailer when my phone buzzed away in my pocket. It was work.
Now, I work a fairly demanding job, one that requires me to be available most of the time, even on my days off. So naturally, I took the call. A few hours later, after I had packed the trailer, loaded up my horse and hit the road to a horse show for the weekend, my phone buzzed again. This time it was my mother, who needed help deciphering something online for my father’s restaurant business.
I got to the horse show, unloaded, and tacked up my horse by the time my phone rang a third time. It was my husband, who had a question about one of our dogs and the brand of food she eats.
These were all simple things: people had questions and I had answers. But had they called two hours, an hour, or even 10 minutes later, I would have purposefully not answered my phone.
It’s easy to get caught up in the run-of-the-mill, everyday routine. When I’m at work, I’m a journalist. But I’m also a wife, a caretaker for (too) many animals, a homeowner, a freelancer, a daughter, a sister, and the list goes on. Some of these titles come with a pay check, most were merely assigned to me. But they all come with some responsibility…. and all those duties really begin to add up.
As an adult amateur rider, it’s a struggle on good days to get to the barn and ride my horse, while juggling all the other usual things required of me. I have goals I’ve set for my riding and I try really hard to keep working toward those, even when life gets in the way.
But lately, I’ve realized that if I really want to reach those goals, I need to take responsibility for them.
I can come up with endless excuses for why I can’t make it to the barn this afternoon: I’m tired, I had a really hard day at work, tomorrow is going to be another long day, I have too many other commitments. While yes, these are valid reasons that sometimes create road blocks to the barn, they are also excuses.
So I decided to prioritize my riding. I gave myself a year timeline to compete and move up, to get closer to the goals I’ve always said I want to reach, but have flailed and sputtered out on in the past. This is why I don’t answer my phone when I’m at the barn anymore.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a lesson or just a hack. When I’m riding, I don’t want to be distracted. Work can wait. So can the dog food. But for the next hour or so while I’m in the tack, I need to be focused and paying attention to my horse.
This is easier said than done, but I am seeing the results of my renewed commitment. It’s working. But it doesn’t come without some serious sacrifice.
At the end of the day, I had to ask myself, how hard am I willing to work to reach this goal? And the answer: harder than I was. It’s great to watch videos and see how we’re progressing, and it makes earning that ribbon at the horse show that much more worth it. This new “no phone rule” also gives me an hour in the day of complete zen – I’m with my horse, and I’m not allowing anything else to get in the way.