Happy New Year everyone! It’s that time of year where many of us make resolutions only to get disappointed and discouraged when we break them. Instead of a making a New Year’s resolution consider making a New Year’s intention.
Why no resolution?
Resolutions are goal based. Though goals are not bad, they do have definite end points. If a goal is created and not achieved the feeling of disappointment that is felt can often be worse than the feeling we had that pushed us to create the goal. We often feel worse about ourselves in the end. I am not saying never create goals. They have a purpose and can be adjustable benchmarks in a long term plan. I will talk more about this later. But now let’s move to creating an intention.
Why an intention?
An intention is more about a change in your way of being and a sense of purpose that you want to follow. It can be a plan or roadmap of how you want to go forward in your life. An intention is something you can achieve right now and do every day going forward. Of course some days will be better than others, but there is really no end point and therefore less chance for disappointment. The degree you honor your intention on a daily basis can change, but on a whole it is something that drives you forward to new things and helps you find clarity in your life. To give an example, a resolution or goal might be to lose 20 pounds in 4 months. Life may well get in the way of your goal and when you have setbacks you might lose your motivation to continue. Then when 4 months roll around and you haven’t met your goal, you may give up and feel bad about yourself. Instead, if you set an intention to live an overall more healthy life, you can achieve that each day. There is no end point to worry about and no number attached. Some days may be better than others but you can always find small ways each day to add healthy habits in your life and begin to let go of some unhealthy ones. See the difference in this?
Where do goals come in?
Now, with a plan of how you want to move forward, you can add some “flexible” goals to use as benchmarks along the way. I say flexible, as it is best to allow for life to get in the way and to forgive ourselves if we don’t achieve a goal at a specific time. When this flexibility is put in place, failure is looked at as a time to reassess and reset our goals and our plans and how we want to achieve them. When goals are set, think of creating softer goals. An example, in the being healthier intention, would be to add some goals around adding in healthier foods and more activity on a regular basis instead of losing a certain amount of weight by a certain time.
How can you apply this to riding?
Riding can be very goal oriented. Some riders want to ride at a certain level by a certain time or achieve specific exercises perfectly by the end of a lesson. Competitions are measured by placings, ribbons and points won. You may have to win at one competition to qualify for another. All in all, when a rider focuses only on these goals they can get very discouraged. You may be reading this now thinking your riding resolution is to achieve some specific riding goal in 2018. It may be a dream you have to compete over a certain height of jumps or to move up a level in dressage. Whatever your goal may be, think of a way you can turn it into an intention instead. Shift your focus to finding a change in the way you approach your riding on a daily basis. It might be creating an intention to have more awareness in your riding and in turn connecting more with your horse. Or maybe you can create an intention to focus more on the positive outcomes of your rides and grow your riding from there. You can start and achieve an intention like that today. Then you can add some flexible goals in as benchmarks on your journey. This then becomes a path to a new way of approaching your riding that will actually help you achieve your goals in the long run.
So what will your intention be?
Mine is to have a more positive outlook each day and to focus on what is working more than what is not.