Last year I decided I wanted to run a 5k. A fairly reasonable goal, really. But as soon as I set up one of those “couch to 5k” training plans, all my motivation disappeared. I’d been running and training consistently up to that point, so what gave? Why did I seem to lose all #inspo as soon as I saw the schedule I’d set up for my goal?
So I changed course and established my own path to set myself up for success. I scrapped the training plan and just focused on running. Before too long, I was comfortably running three miles, all without the strict schedule. I learned that I needed to remove the pressure in order to motivate myself to do better. It’s funny how that works.
The same concept can be applied to that list of New Year’s resolutions hanging on your wall or sitting on your counter right now. Are they looking pretty scary?
Of course, not everyone is motivated in the same way as I am. Some people thrive on the pressure. But what’s important to think about here — before you even start on making your resolutions a reality — is what makes you “tick”. What motivates you? How do you operate? What sort of circumstances set you up for success?
Not everyone can fit into one box when it comes to making goals and then achieving them. The new year brings with it a feeling of hope and promise. It’s human nature to want to start fresh, to turn a new page. But don’t forget to explore who you are as a goal-setter and to set your milestones according to that, not according to what societal norms would tell you.
Use Data to Help You
Look down at your wrist. There’s about a 20 percent chance that you’ve got a smart watch on. What about your phone? I bet it tracks your steps taken each day or how much time you spend asleep or (and I hate looking at this one) how much time you waste on Instagram every day. Now open your Hylofit app. All of your rides with your horse, in one place.
Before you set your goals for the year, take a moment to rifle through all of this information. Why is this important? Because it tells you a story. While the information on your Spotify Year in Review might be mildly more interesting, the trends identified by the technology in your life are also important. Look at your heart rate, both resting and working — could it improve? This indicates your level of fitness. The same goes for your horse — how’s his heart rate looking? Do you know what his average resting heart rate is? Do you know what his average respiratory rate is? What about his heart rate recovery?
You can’t set goals without knowing where you’re starting. So make sure to take a good look at the data for both you and your horse as you build your list of milestones and markers.
Spend a Little Time Every Day
There really aren’t any shortcuts to finding success. If you want to make your 2020 goals a reality, you’re going to need to dedicate yourself to putting in the time. And the best way to train yourself to do better is to spend a little time every day working on your goals.
Let’s say you want to start the competition season with a stronger lower leg. You can’t realistically expect to focus on this during one lesson each week and see much in the way of improvement. More than nothing, sure. But in order to truly make progress, spend some time working on your strength each day. Do some calf raises every time you go up or down stairs. Practice riding without stirrups to start your ride. Find some videos on YouTube that offer advice on strengthening your legs. Do one thing every day specific to reaching your goal.
Don’t Get Too Discouraged
It’s going to be tough! Even the smallest goals require some adjustment and some sacrifice. This is where it’s important to set realistic goals for yourself. If you’re competing at the Novice level of eventing, chances are you probably won’t make it to Advanced by the end of the year. If you’re brand new to running, you probably don’t need to push yourself to run a 5k in a month or less. Make it realistic and achievable! Make it your goal to move up to the next level at the season, or to run a 5k in a few months’ time. Don’t stress, and don’t get discouraged if you experience a couple of setbacks. Live in the moment of each setback, find what you can learn from it, and regroup.
Do a Monthly Check-In
Come February 1, 80 percent of resolution-makers are likely to fail. That’s awful. It’s bad for our self-esteem and confidence to fail at our resolutions, so this year let’s resolve to be kinder to ourselves and to do more to set ourselves up for success.
Take out your phone now and set a reminder for the last day of each month this year. Set the alarm for a time when you’re typically at home, maybe before bed or around dinner time. And when that alarm goes off, do a check in with yourself. How are things going? If they’re going well, congratulations! What can you build on in the next month? If they’re less than ideal, that’s ok too! What have you learned, and what are some actionable things you can do next month? These check ins help you stay accountable with your goals.
These tips may seem basic or rudimentary, but don’t underestimate their power. With a bit of determination, a little discipline, and a lot of compassion for yourself, you can be a part of that 20 percent that knocks those resolutions out of the park this year. Are you ready?