Updated: Jan 25, 2022
First off, I hate New Year's resolutions. I have very rarely found success in deciding that overnight all of my habits are going to change for good. I can usually maintain enthusiasm for a few days or even weeks but by the end of January most of my resolutions have been forgotten. I did have one year where I gave up soda for an entire year which I felt was impressive but then again I was never a regular soda drinker so this wasn't super difficult for me.
So what can we do to affect more substantial positive change in our lives and in particular our horsemanship journey? Let's take a look at why New Year's resolutions tend to fail and what we can do to set sustainable goals.
Setting too many new goals at one time
Let's face it, the number one reason why most of our New Year's resolutions fail by February 1st is that we got overwhelmed. We packed too many new goals in and our brains rebelled at the sudden changes in schedule, structure, level of commitment and we forgot how hard it is to cram six sessions in with our horse per week, plus journal about it, plus get a lesson with our trainer, plus watch a training YouTube video every night etc. Maybe just one of those would be a good goal to start with or adjusting the frequency of the goal might even be a better idea. Be realistic in your planning and pair your goals down to the essential one or two that you want to focus on.
Your goals don't relate to each other
If you are anything like me, the first of the year holds endless opportunity for growth in every area of your life. This is your moment to get your shit together and to do the next year like never before. You start setting fitness goals, clean up your diet, spend more time with friends and family, take on a new project at work, set new financial goals, enroll in a cooking class in addition to a stricter riding regimen with your favorite equine. All of these goals are great but it's important to have a very specific overarching goal that ties it all together. This will help you to be more selective in your goal setting and the bigger goal will help you stay motivated.
For example if your goal is to go on more horse camping trips this year and you don't own all of the gear you need to have a successful trip, a subgoal would be to reevaluate your budget and see if you can curb excess spending to find room for the items you need to purchase. Another subgoal would be to ride your horse "x" number of miles per week to prepare for the trail rides. Another goal might be doing some research on campsite cooking. Knowing your big goal helps tie everything together and helps you weed out what wasn't going to directly help you to get there.
Not saying no
Ready to add some new habits/activities into your life? If you are going to make actual sustainable changes you are going to have to be realistic about how much time these new commitments are going to take. Or even how much money they will cost. It doesn't mean you are lazy or hopeless or unable to stick to anything if your plans fall apart by February. Maybe it just means that you aren't wonder-woman and you only have so many resources (hours in the day or $). If this is the roadblock you are finding yourself against then it is time to start taking some things off of your plate.
Remember you can do anything but you can't do everything.