“We save it for one last week of the year, and a New Year’s list, soon to be next year’s regrets.” Jenny Susser PHD.
Jenny Susser is a psychologist specializing in sport psychology and this quote comes from an article she wrote about ‘reflecting’. For me reflecting is the same as daydreaming. Oh, I know, most of you will say you do not have time for daydreaming. But I think you do. There are two types of daydreaming: freeform and structured. Freeform is daydreaming where you just let your thoughts float like clouds and see where they take you. You will be amazed at the people, places and things, you can visit with this.
But how can something as random as daydreaming ever be structured? I like to think of it as daydreaming in a maze. Here is my example of some recent structured daydreaming I did while driving to Florida. I had noticed while packing up to leave that I had not given any thought to my upcoming competition season in Florida. Usually I would have looked up the lists of shows at the Global Dressage Festival and White Fences Equestrian and chosen what shows I wanted to attend. But this year I had not done this. Why? That question is the start of the maze. I enter the maze and ask myself another question.
- Is it because I had surgery to remove my gall bladder on Nov 15? Answer: No. It was an easy surgery and the recovery was without problems. I have come to a wall in the maze. I turn around and head back and start up another pathway.
- Is it because I am worried that having been off from serious riding for six weeks I will not be fit enough to ride in competition? I walk along that question’s pathway. I have not been riding as much but I have been able to go to the gym and workout there. I have been able to get on my horse, Biasini, and do some riding. So yes, it will take me a bit of time to get back to full riding fitness but it will not prevent me from showing for the full winter season. I have come to a wall again. Turn around and find another pathway.
- I train with a different coach, Lou Denizard, in Florida. Will that put me off my stride? I have trained with Lou for eight years now. We know each other well and it usually only takes a day or two for us to get back in synch. Also Lou had seen me ride in a lesson with my Canadian coach, Belinda Trussell,when he was visiting Toronto in early November. He knows where I was before my surgery, how Biasini and I had improved over the summer, what is working well and what needs to improve. Another wall. I retrace my steps and take another pathway.
- Am I lazy and lacking motivation? This is a short pathway before I come to the wall. I am a hard worker and have a highly motivated approach to my training and riding. Find a new pathway. I know that with each new pathway I am getting closer to the solution. I am almost there.
- Over the summer Biasini and I had stepped things up a notch under Belinda’s direction. Do I have the tools in my riders toolbox to maintain that in the competition arena? I walk along this pathway for some time pondering that question. Finally ….yes… I do and even if I do not have those tools right now. After some work and getting back to top fitness I will have them. Wall. New pathway.
- What are my goals for this winter season? AH HA! My goals. This fall I did not take time to optimistically plan my goals! No wonder I never looked at the show schedule!
So without further hesitation I set out my goals.
- Short Term. Two to three weeks. Get back to full riding fitness.
- Medium Term Three weeks. Working with Lou to make sure I have all the rider tools in my toolkit and be ready to use them when needed.
- Longer Term. Compete in the Intermediare 1 level at the end of February or in March.
Finding my way through the Daydreaming Maze has led me to the answers I needed to be able to set my goals and make plans. With equestrian sport there are two athletes; the horse( a different species) and the rider . Sometimes the best laid plans can go awry. All riders know and accept this. But despite that element of possible uncertainty it is always a good idea to have a goal and optimistically plan to realize it.
Do you have a method you use to set goals and plan for them? I’d be interested to hear how you do it! Leave me a comment below.