My run times were slower. I wanted to quit. I found excuses not to run, not to try. Why try if I can’t be good at it. (See post on toxic perfectionist tendencies ). Then one day while walking in the park I ran across a woman walking two old Labs. She said they were slow, but they still wanted to go. Of course. Even if you’re slow, just go! I didn’t wait for my runner mojo to return, but instead laced up my running shoes and got out there. Slow, but go. When we don’t achieve our goals or when things get hard, many of us want to chuck it, but here’s my advice: Chunk it, don’t chuck it!
Has the same thing happened to you? Perhaps your goal was to show your horse in the next highest jumper division or to get to a Second Level dressage test? Maybe due to unforeseen circumstances you feel you’re moving backwards.
Perhaps your goal was to lose twenty pounds before swimsuit season and the scales aren’t moving.
When we identify a goal, we want it to happen all at once. We hate to wait. We go on crazy diets to drop the weight, we hurt ourselves pursuing an insane exercise regime, or we burn out or injure our horses pushing too hard, too soon.
We need to learn how to take our longterm goal and break it into chunks. Chunk it, don’t chuck it when things go wrong. For example, to get back to a running a 5K goal, set some achievable milestones along the way and set yourself up for success, not failure. Here are some ideas:
- Turn off your trackers and just run a comfortable distance, setting a pace that feels comfortable. You can check your speed later! Don’t worry about slow, just go!
- Plan to run the same course and notice if you get half way up that hill you had to walk before. Pay attention and celebrate your improvements.
- Stretch yourself a little bit each time. Go a little further or a little faster. Be kind to yourself.
Also, be kind to your horse. The horse is an athlete who also needs to warm up, maintain a consistent fitness level, stretch, and cool down. Don’t expect too much too soon from either of you. Celebrate the perfect canter depart even if the 20-meter circle falls apart half way around. Focus on the ideal spot you found to the first fence even if you pull a rail on the last obstacle. It may be as small a goal as “I didn’t pull on my inside rein for the whole ride!”
Reward, reward, reward the good and remember it. For yourself and your horse. Focusing on mistakes gives them too much power and adds to the negative aspects in life (and we have enough of that!) Instead, think about what you did well. Feed the positive.
So, here’s what you do:
- Break down your goal into concrete, small, achievable chunks
- Identify what you are doing right, what you’ve achieved, small improvements attained
- Focus on and think about the good. Celebrate it.