Real Life Rider Series
“Being able to focus is my biggest hurdle. It is so easy to go off the wagon.”
I received this message from a new subscriber today. I found myself nodding and staring at the words, remembering my own struggles. I sympathise, I really do. A common problem that many of us are guilty of is to think about how hard something is to achieve. Just thinking about it makes you tired. I have been known to talk myself into being so tired that I couldn’t possibly put in the physical effort required to train my horse only to find that if I dig deep and do it, the riding actually energises me and I feel so much better afterwards.
“The secret to getting ahead is getting started”– Mark Twain
Instead of thinking about how hard something is, think about what you will get out of it. So, don’t think about how tiring it is to go to the stables, tack up and ride, instead focus on how good you’ll feel when you’re done. The fruits of your labour will help to energise you. When you dig deep into your ‘drive reserves’ and make the effort to ride you often get your best results. This always amazes me and is a scientific fact. There are small organs (look up Mitochrondria) located within our cells that work like tiny power packs to produce energy and the more aerobic exercise you do the more energy becomes available to you via these tiny organs. Just Wow!
Get Focus – Finding The Drive Reserves …
Consider what your inspiration might be. For me inspiration comes from someone who has achieved what I want to achieve and is currently doing it, Mark Bentley, my partner. When I lose motivation I usually read a book or blog about Dressage. It inspires me and reinvigorates me. Reading helps motivate and focus me.
Next you need to get excited. Err, yes, I hear you cry, that’s obvious, but most people don’t think about it much: if you want to remain focussed get yourself excited about what you want to do. But how can you do that when you don’t feel motivated? For me, I’ve learned that by talking things through with Mark, by talking to fellow equestrians, reading as much as possible, visualising what it would be like to ride well, I get excited. Once I’ve done that, it’s just a matter of carrying that energy forward and keeping it going.
Maybe you should build anticipation, which is not easy. Don’t get started start right away. Many of us will get excited and want to start today and that can often be a mistake for some people. By setting a date in the future, a week or two, or even a month, and by making that your start date, marking it on the calendar you build the anticipation and increase your focus and energy for what you are about to achieve. Most people will skip this tip but it really does work.
None of us like to look bad in front of others. We will go the extra mile to do something we’ve said publicly. Talk to people about what you are doing, share your thoughts on social media with your friends, hold yourself accountable. Commit to giving progress updates to everyone every week or so. You should consider getting support. It’s really hard to accomplish something so very complex, alone. Find a support network, either in the real world or online, or both. Having an accountability buddy really helps.
But whatever you do, don’t give up. Even if you aren’t feeling any motivation today, or this week, don’t give up. Think of your goal as a long journey, and your lack of current focus is just a little bump in the road. You can’t give up with every little bump. Stay with it for the long term, ride out the ebbs and surf on the flows, and you’ll get there.
Remaining focused doesn’t just happen by accident. It requires effort and it needs to become a habit. That seemingly magical force that has the ability to take what was, at first, difficult and, over time, through repetition, make things easier, effortless even.
Going off the wagon is so easy, but you must be ready and willing to change yourself after all, it is ridiculous to expect success when you do nothing to make changes that will enable it!