Today I’m going to talk about mindset and how important that is. The action of goal setting is one thing, but the mental place you need to be in to accomplish goals is a completely different beast (and the biggest hang up for most of us). Goals written down don’t accomplish themselves. Goals derailed don’t get back on track by themselves. The initial “go get em” attitude you had when you wrote those goals can’t last forever. Life happens and your attention will get pulled away. You will have small bursts of motivation from time to time, but we can’t live our lives on overdrive. Our brains and bodies have to rest.
Achieving goals isn’t always this huge grand explosive event of awesomeness. Sure…sometimes you win a championship. Sometimes you get a book published. Sometimes you finish that marathon. Sometimes you finish a massive project and see everything in its glorious perfection. Those are big goals met with obvious rewards. Most things accomplished aren’t those kinds of moments.
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Most goals accomplished are small. These are the goals met that you might not have written down. You probably haven’t celebrated or recognized these like you should. These are the steps that get you to that big one. You lost 1 lb this week. You managed to do a slightly improved shoulder-in in your lesson (even if your coach was yelling at you to look up the whole time). You wrote a single paragraph of your booklet or made a single slide show for your presentation. Every single one of these little tasks completed is a step towards your bigger goal.
Sure, you can sit there and beat yourself up that you didn’t lose 2 lbs this week like you planned. Or you can celebrate that you lost that 1 pound and realize that though it will take you a little longer to lose that 15 pounds you goal set, you are going the right direction. Honor that. Any step in the direction of your goal is worth celebrating.
You have to also remember to cut yourself a little slack (but not TOOO much slack) sometimes. As I said before, we can’t be “on” all the time. Sometimes we need a day off. Sometimes we take a step back to take a step forward (recognize this when it happens and realize it is a step toward the goal…even if it doesn’t appear like it at first glance). Treat yourself with grace. Practice gratitude.
I have trouble with this sometimes. I find it incredibly easy to beat myself up over the most tiny things, and when I do I find myself spiraling down and away from those goals I’d set up. I’m writing this sitting here with a candle burning on my desk and a salted caramel coffee I just made (and I’m forcing myself to be mindful about drinking it). A little love note to myself for getting this article done, even if choices I made this week (month) have led me to spend my Saturday afternoon writing instead of outside in the gorgeous weather. It’s okay. I am appreciating the lesson I’m teaching myself. I’m forcing myself to say thank you.
I have personally found that keeping a gratitude journal is very helpful, especially lately with all the trauma, sadness, stress and general blahs that have been the last year for all of us. Writing down every day something you’re grateful for can REALLY change the way you look at the world. Sitting down and spending 10 minutes writing down your thoughts and feelings every single day can make a big difference in your perception of your world. There’s always something to be thankful for. Always. Even on the worst days…I know from experience. If you notice those things daily and honor them, your world will change. I promise you that.
I’ve tried all sorts of apps and different notebook formats, but I really like this one I got from Clever Fox recently (it has different writing prompts every day which I love and comes in a bunch of gorgeous colors. I also use their food journal and day planners). By the way, those links are affiliate ads, so if you purchase know you’re helping pay for keeping Decidedly Equestrian going.
I, like most of you, always have WAY too much going on and prioritizing is a problem. Sometimes my priorities change from week to week to month to month. That can be extra hard to maintain your grace with yourself and honor accomplishments when you’re jumping around from thing to thing. One thing that happened for me recently that has forced me to remember to celebrate those small wins is my back yard. What? Your back yard? Weirdo. I thought we were talking about horses? I know, stick with me here.
This was not on my goals for the year. BUT…all of a sudden the weather got nice and I wanted to be outside. Great! Problem is…I do not love the back yard. It backs up to a public trail and we have no privacy back there. It’s full of weeds and old sick plants. There’s a beat up old dog run that is a safety hazard and eye sore. There’s not much in the way of pretty anything and there’s nowhere to sit and eat. There’s old junk everywhere (a pile of bricks, pavers long half buried in the dirt, uneven, broken cement sidewalk) and areas of yard with no grass or weeds…just dirt. Slippery, ugly and dangerous back steps. It’s ugly. It’s a big project and I don’t have a lot of money to throw at it…so it’s all DIY. And I have a toddler that wants to help with everything, but she really is just excellent at getting dirty, falling down, cutting herself on things, breaking things, destroying healthy plants…etc. My time to work out there is few and far between. Lots of excuses to not get it done.
I have started chipping away at this new goal/problem…and each little thing I get done is a mini celebration (even if the yard still looks terrible).
1. We took out part of the dog run and it’s mostly safe now for my daughter to be around. There’s more to take down, but at least it’s not a major hazard any longer. Thanks to my aunt-in-law for getting that one started.
2. I (with help from my mother in law and husband) weeded a very large raised bed area of the yard in one weekend. I’m still kinda broken from this…a few weeks later.
3. I decided on plants to buy and bought them (this may have been the hardest part I tell you).
4. I ordered a dining set for outside (and put it all together).
5. I ordered privacy panels to add to the back fence line…that will get here someday (not fast enough!).
6. I planted the raised bed area with a couple of trees/plants/bushes and 1,078 succulents (at least it feels like it was that many)…and the birds have proceeded to destroy about half of those succulents…so there’s that.
7. My husband pulled out one dead plant/tree/bush thing (honestly not sure what it is)…still a couple more to go so we can replant that area.
8. My aunt came over and helped trim some other trees/plants back to make them healthier.
So all of these things are pretty minor when you look out in that yard. Minus the planted bed, everything pretty much looks the same (or even worse than when we started…like the dog run). I have been forcing myself to remember that it’s OKAY and no back yard paradise was created overnight. We have been eating outside when it is nice weather and I’m allowing myself to enjoy what we’ve done…even if at this point I still hate the back yard. It’s honoring those little steps that’s important. It’s allowing myself to show gratitude to my time invested and my body broken to take those steps in the right direction.
It’s easy to look out and want to give up in defeat…but that is no way to get anything done. I have friends that have let home projects defeat them…and years after they bought the house they still hate what they have. Take that a bit more macro – you know people (maybe yourself even) that are living with things they hate (houses, jobs, bodies, spouses, barns…) because it’s easier to sit in the comfort of the known and hate it than to take those steps to improve it. If you allow that…you will never fully enjoy life.
All of these lessons translate to horses. It’s so easy to get lost in the big goals sometimes. The big shows. The big wins (or losses for that matter). It’s also really easy to get lost in the everyday with horses and forget what you have. The bills. The chores. The endless schooling sessions. I don’t think there’s one of us out there that doesn’t take what they have going on for granted at least every once in a while (though I feel like horse people are better at thanking their horses than they are themselves). When you learn something new with your horse (or just improve a tiny bit over the last ride), remember to thank yourself and your horse for the effort. Take a break from that dressage work and go for a gallop. Go for a trail ride. Hop some cross rails. Your inner child will thank you, and your horse will thank you. Give them an extra cookie after they gave their best in a lesson (and maybe get yourself something too).
Show yourself (and your horse) a little more appreciation for the things you do get done, and you will keep the process going forward. You will get more done. You will accomplish more big goals. You will have more and more and more to be grateful for each and every day. It might take you a year to lose 15 lbs. It might take you 5 years to redo your back yard the way you want it. It might take you 20 years to earn your USDF Gold Medal. If you don’t remember to honor the small accomplishments, you won’t get to the big accomplishment.
Keep your eyes up, say thank you and gallop forward.