“This is your year, I just know it!”
I don’t know about you, but I have heard this phrase too many times in recent years. It has started to lose its meaning because it doesn’t always prove itself to be true no matter how well things seem to be going.
Over the last few days, I have seen several posts about how people are planning to “throw away their goals” and “focus on the process” this year. This made me quite happy to see, because personally, I have never been too keen on New Year’s resolutions. Especially after this past year.
Most of you have probably already heard this story by now, but here’s a recap: I started out the year by competing early in the spring season, which I had never been able to do before because I hadn’t had an indoor over the winter that allowed me to ride consistently. At the barn I board at now, I have an indoor which I’m so grateful for! I had a few great events, and it seemed that this year I might actually get somewhere with competing. “This could be your year, they said!”
Ideas, dream and goals started to formulate in my mind before I could stop them. I have always been careful not to set lofty goals early in the year because I have experienced the crushing disappointment that comes when plans go awry. But, before I could think rationally, I began to imagine crossing the finish line at USPC Championships in Tryon for eventing, riding at WoW camp for Area II Young Riders, moving back up to novice successfully, maybe doing a three day in the fall.
I had so many people tell me, “This is your year, I just know it!” That only boosted my confidence, and I was sure that this would be the year that we had breakthroughs with consistent dressage tests and confident cross country rounds. And then, just as the summer began, Murphy went lame. He came back later in the summer, only to have another issue come up in his training that stopped us from doing any fall shows. Every single goal that had ever so cautiously been formed in my mind was gone with one misstep.
This is one of the reasons why I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. It is so easy for everything to come crashing down because of something that is beyond your control, and then all of your motivation is lost when the goal that you had your heart set on is no longer feasible.
I have found that recently I seem to start the year off like I’m trying to sprint a marathon- in the beginning, it seems that nothing can stop me with my big aspirations and motivation. But then I finish the year out with nothing left in me.
Instead of making specific goals, this year I am aiming to have a theme for the New Year. It will probably be something like, “variety” because I tend to get stuck in my rides with not enough variation or change. Another could be “adapt” because when a problem presents itself, sometimes I don’t think outside of the box enough to find solutions and end up trying the same things over and over. This way, I can keep my motivation to stick to my theme throughout the year, no matter what happens. For a more in-depth explanation of creating a theme for the New Year, check out this article.
The other reason is that it shouldn’t take a new year to change something. As I said before, last year I had many people say to me, “This is your year!” But what does that mean if I just keep hearing it year after year? I’ve had people tell me the same thing now, as I’m bringing Murphy back again. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice compliment to show that we are performing well. But I was thinking about it as I scrolled through social media and saw a few posts that talked about not setting goals, and I realized that I need to be focused on the process and knowing that I will get somewhere if I am consistent in my training. But that’s not going to happen if I have the anticipation of it being “my year” and I try to rush things. It should be about seeing where your horse and your training takes you, and making something out of what you have.
This year, my plan is to not have lofty goals and plans, but instead to take what I have and make the most of it. That means that if Murphy is going well and we get opportunities to go to USPC Champs or a summer riding camp, then I will be sure to stay focused and do everything I can to prepare so that I can be confident and have fun, as well as being grateful for the chance to have a learning experience. But if for some reason, I am not able to compete Murphy as much as I’d like, then I will still make the most of my time by focusing on my own position, or riding in some clinics to keep sharp, or work at the barn more.
No matter what happens, I am going to forget the lofty ambitions that are fueled by seeing other people accomplishing their own big goals. I am going to take whatever this year brings and create some memorable experiences out of it.