I’ve always said that if you wake up without a goal, go back to bed. Your riding life is full of amazing opportunities, but if you never seek them, you’ll surely never find them. Defining goals is what sets your sight on those opportunities and what ultimately helps you capture them. Some goals will bring you short-term improvement, while others will bring you long-term gain. Some will bring you success for a riding session, while others will bring you success for a riding season. All you have to do is work on them. . . because goals only work if you do.
So, while short and long-term goals aren’t anything new to you, there’s another kind of goal you might not be familiar with, and what makes this goal so unique is that it’s more important than all your short and long-term goals combined. This kind of goal is called a legacy goal, and what makes it so special is that it describes the culmination of all of the most important and meaningful things you'd love to accomplish in your riding life.
A goal of this magnitude is difficult to explain, so imagine this scenario: All of your friends and family get together to celebrate your life as an equestrian. . . What would you hope they’d say? Would you hope they’d say you dedicated yourself tirelessly to the betterment of horses? That you never gave up when things got tough? That you defined your success by your efforts rather than your outcomes? If so, set these accolades as your legacy goals, and then go out and make them happen.
To begin building your legacy goal, ask yourself why you love horses and riding so much. Think about what really means the most to you. Is it really winning colored ribbons, or is it something more powerful? Something more meaningful? If so, make a list of your three to five most meaningful motivators and then wordsmith them into a paragraph that describes why you do what you do and begins with the words, “My legacy goal is to become the kind of equestrian who. . .”
Here are a few good examples of legacy goals:
My legacy goal is to become the kind of equestrian who always believed in her ability to overcome emotional obstacles; who devoted herself to helping others do the same; inspired young riders to find their love of riding, and worked tirelessly to ensure her horses received the level of care and devotion that they deserved.
My legacy goal is to become the kind of equestrian who worked tirelessly to become a dedicated horsewoman, knowledgable trainer, and lifelong mentor, and to use these skills and commitment to keep my horses and students safe, healthy, and successful throughout a lifetime of schooling and showing experiences.
I hope these two examples help you understand the difference between traditional short and long-term goals and the more powerful legacy goal. While short and long-term goals can certainly make your days, weeks, and years feel valuable, only legacy goals can make an entire lifetime feel that way.
Why not begin this summer by creating your own legacy goal and then live each and every day as if building that legacy? Knowing those bad days and good competitors may periodically interfere with your ability to achieve short and long-term goals, but that nothing (and no one) can ever stand between you and achieving what really means the most to you, your legacy goal. Once completed, write it in your favorite font, print it under a meaningful photo, frame it, and then hang it somewhere you'll see often; and remember, true riding success won't be measured at one show or on one afternoon. It’ll only be created after a lifetime of living each and every day as if leaving your legacy.
I hope you enjoyed this month’s Pressure Proof Tip! If you’d like more empowering tips like these, you can order an autographed copy of my new equestrian sport psychology book “Bolder Braver Brighter” here.
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