New Year’s resolutions and plans, the perfect way to reflect on the past year and look forward to the future.
But how can we turn wishes and goals into plans that we actually pursue?
My motto #FindAWayNotAnExcuse comes into full force when I’m making plans and trying to turn my dreams and ambitions into reality—after all, a dream doesn’t seem as crazy when you have a plan to get you there!
Here are a few questions I ask myself to figure out what I want to achieve and how to go about it in the New Year. I hope they’ll help you too!
What did I enjoy this past year?
Start by looking back on what went well and what you enjoyed this year. Perhaps you finally qualified for a big championship show after months of training, or found your brave pants and went for a hack on the beach. I’m a big believer in doing what makes you happy. So, whatever springs to mind when you ask yourself this first question should be quite high on your priority list for next year too, if you ask me!
Don’t forget what your horse enjoyed, too. If they benefited from a few weeks off or had fun doing “No Stirrups November,” fit that into the calendar for 2020.
What worked well this year?
Did you stick to skipping the fields out every other day? Or find a coach that completely understands you and your horse? Try looking back on things that went really well this year to take forward with you to next year. Far too often we make New Year’s resolutions that don’t work out, because we ditch what’s already working in search of something better. Instead, plan to build on what already works well as you move forward—there’s no harm in change, just don’t abandon something that already works well!
Any dates for the calendar?
If you’re busy doing 100 other things like me, or have family/work commitments to balance with horses, it can be really hard to attend events and stick to planned occasions. I try my best to get the most important dates on my calendar for places I want to ride at right at the start of the year. That way I know what’s coming up when other plans start piling up in the calendar and I can prioritise without double booking myself, over jumping my horse, or being left with no plans at all.
What do I want to achieve in the New Year?
Here’s where you can really begin to make your dreams a reality. Starting with your goal, set a time scale to achieve it and then begin to work backward from there. [It’s the same way Michael Blake set the bareback puissance world record!] What steps do you need to take to achieve your goal? Perhaps you and your horse need to get fit enough to complete a day long trail ride, or have work to do on your transitions to score a new personal best on a dressage test. Whatever it is, once you’ve set that goal in the calendar, plan the steps towards it and you’ll already be on your way to achieving it!
Aside from progress goals, it’s important to make sure the daily maintenance and general tasks are taken care of, too—things like vet checks, farrier appointments, physio and vaccinations. These are useful to have written down on the calendar, especially when booking events/competitions and possible time off.
If you have help from other people in caring for your horse—a groom, a friend that shares duties, or someone that’s on call for emergencies—make a note if they have plans for holidays or time off work as well, so you don’t end up stuck with no replacement.
What can I improve on?
As riders and horse lovers, we’re always learning new things and improving ourselves for the better. Setting a personal goal for improvement is a great way to focus your training and how you spend your time—and it can be around anything! This past year, I set out to improve my core strength and balance, alongside lower leg position. I spent a lot of time riding bareback, doing pilates and yoga at home, and also tailoring my training and casual riding when out hacking towards these goals. Along with the satisfaction of seeing your hard work pay off, it’s also a great way to add structure to your horse’s exercise program.
The same goes for your horses. Do they need a little more topline condition? Or attention to suppleness in their left shoulder? Pick up on things that can be improved and plan for progress.
And last but not least..
Try something new!
Chances are there’s something you think “I’d love to try that,” but never get round to actually doing it. So for 2020, why not try something new and different for a change? Whether it be riding bareback, going to your first competition, teaching a friend to ride, or maybe doing something that scares or challenges you. Pick an idea and get it done next year!
Set yourself up for a fantastic 2020. No dream is too big when you make a clear plan to get you there!
Evie Toombes was born with Lipomyelomeningocele, a form of spina bifida caused by a fatty mass at the base of her spinal cord affecting the nerves to her legs, bladder, and bowel. For the past 18 years, she’s been confusing doctors and pursuing her para-riding dreams, inspiring millions in the process. Follow Evie on Facebook and at her website, EvieToombsParaRider.com.