I was surprised to learn that a non-equestrian would consider a goal utterly, and completely, failed due to missing one event.
However, it made me appreciate the goal setting knowledge I acquired while working with horses. And it highlighted the contrast between the equestrian defined goal versus the non-equestrian goal.
Non-Rider: “I will run the Jiggy 5K Race on April 18th, and my time will be between 15:20 and 20:45 for me to consider it a success.”
Rider: “Bojangles and I will compete in the Ockalocka Dressage Show on May 28th, and receive scores of at least 60.”
Horse: “(May 28th) I lost my shoe.” Holds foot up.
Be flexible on timelines…Understand that dates are only one small measure of progress, and that these may need to be adjusted at a moments notice…
Rider: “Bojangles and I will improve our half-pass to show more reach and bend by the end of this month.”
Horse: “I know we did that half-pass thing last week, but what is this ‘steering’ thing you speak of? Why are you putting your leg there?!? I can’t trot sideways AND forward!!”
Accept that progress is not linear…
Rider: “Bojangles and I will consider it a success if we can steer around the arena without spooking, bucking, or airs above the ground.”
Horse: “I don’t see any monsters. I’m quite happy to trot around in a relaxed frame.”
Celebrate the small victories when and where you find them…
Rider: “Bojangles and I will compete at Second Level by the end of next show season.”
Horse: “Oh, you wanted to start Second Level this year? I now have an injury that will require at least 6 months off. Good luck with your ‘goal’, sucker! Feed me carrots!! ”
Never let a set back deter you… adjust your timeline and move on.
Rider: “Let’s try a few short half-pass lines, again.”
Horse: “Oh, THIS half-pass thing! Why didn’t you say that yesterday? I can do that all day long.”
Learn when to push forward toward a goal, and when to back off….
Rider: “Bojangles and I will compete at Grand Prix in 12 years.”
Horse: “I can dance! No, I can’t. Wait…. maybe I can. Nope. I was wrong, screw you. Oh, never mind, this is easy. What? When did I say this was easy. I can’t possibly do this…
I’ve got this!!”
And understand that all those little and medium goals will one day build into achieving your long term goal, as long as you never quit trying…..
We only really fail when we quit.