Winter is coming…If you create the right habits they will take you beyond your wildest dreams…

meme colin powell
I took this photo a week ago in Poland – beautiful golden autumn in one part of Europe, deluge in the other!

The decision to achieve something we don’t yet have or to become someone we are not yet is only a mere start, a static point at which we plant our feet and prepare to give it a go. Anything can still happen at this stage, we might not move off at all, we might step back, we might step sideways.

The tricky bit here is that to get somewhere we have never been we must attempt things we have never attempted or explore ways we have never explored…and that involves change. The latter is probably the most difficult element of success in any area. Let’s have a little ponder on ways of getting things done…

Goals vs Habits

As some of you will know I write training plans for riders who ride with me. Part of these plans are monthly goals and these can be anything from achieving more suppleness in the rider’s hip, learning how to ask for correct inside poll flexion or approaching a jump in a rhythm and tempo suitable to the type of the jump. The goals are always clear and often simple, broken down into progressive tasks.

Recently, however, I started exploring the training plan in which instead of concentrating on the goal I focus the rider on habits…For example, I write down a goal as usual on the plan overview but don’t really mention this again, or call upon it, as we go. Instead, I ask the rider to follow 2-3 “action habits”…

Example: rider is blocked through the hips ( from my experience this is a problem of 90% of amateur riders of all ages) and has therefore issues with balanced downwards transitions from canter to trot.   I ask them to set a Habit #1: Every time they go to see the horse (even if they just lunge or work in hand or get on for a walk hack) they need to do 2-3 simple off-horse exercises which help with suppleness and range of motion.  Every single time. Like they brush their teeth or wash face or hands…

This, I find so far, works better long term. It’s what we do on everyday basis (even on hourly basis when posture is involved) that has an incredible impact on the eventual outcome.

Another example…I am preparing for the opening of 10 places for 3 months courses on Aspire’s Academy programmes (from Start to Performance) in Spring 2014. This means finding a venue (fingers crossed this may have just happened!), making sure all numbers add up and I can afford to go ahead, finding accommodation for myself close to the venue, preparing all promotional materials, information and logistics. And this is just a small fraction of what is involved in this goal of creating a unique and innovative, quality, venue based course for owners and non-owners at all levels. In many ways it’s an overwhelming task. So I set some habits to get me there. The most necessary and least favourite element for me is the logistics of it all. So I have a habit of making myself a huge cup of favourite tea 😉 everyday (!!) and sit down with all the stuff I need to organise. And I get on it. I don’t think of the end goal much, just of organising one bit at a time the best I can.

Muddy Horses

Winter is a great time of the year…for character building 😉 This is when the power of your habits gets somewhat tested but my answer to this is:  forget about where you want to get one day in glorious warmth of summer. It will feel miles away and like you have plenty of time to catch up with a few non-productive days when it’s cold and rainy and your horse is covered in mud, his rugs weigh a tonne and it’s freezing outside. Forget about those dreamy goals for a moment and just get on with your habits: put on five layers and get in the car 😉 Never ever break your habits…


Making resolutions?

Yes it’s only October and the compulsory resolution making for humankind is not until New Year but anyone who works outside will know that the day when you need a hot bath at the end for your body to return basic function, is the day when you need all resolutions there are to get you through to spring 😉

My advice to all aspiring riders out there who love to get on with things and experience progress in both themselves and their horses, is to start pondering on habits you wish to or need to create on daily basis to get things done…Think about goals if you need to, if that’s what gets you out of bed or makes your heart beat faster but sacrifice your fridge door for a habit list instead.

If you create the right habits they will take you beyond your wildest goals anyway…


What you think? Habits or Goals? Or both? 

Our character is basically a composite of our habits. Because they are consistent, often unconcious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character. Stephen Covey

5 thoughts on “Winter is coming…If you create the right habits they will take you beyond your wildest dreams…”

  1. as always, very inspiring post 🙂 It made me think…. and movie about eventing made me nearly cry 🙂 especially the beggining- 3.30 am…. I think that in everything small steps make big things, efford will definietly give us result, so if we want to put small small efford, the resault will be the same saize……. we begin with habits and then we finish with the summary of our habits. Very interesting topic, again You called something what was in my mind for long time. Because of the importance of habits I started to wake up early, and You need to know, all Aspire NewsBook readers, that my nature is more like cat nature- just let me do this and I will sleep until 2pm, wake up for tea and nice book, and then I could go back to bed 😉

    1. 🙂 I make spelling mistakes all the time, have to re-read everything so I don’t make a total fool of myself 😉 It’s my “change resolution” to swap from owl lifestyle to some morning bird lifestyle. It’s hard! I will happily sit until 2am to get something done but getting up early is not my forte. I am attempting this change over the winter as I want to enjoy my mornings more 🙂

      Habits are the real power…

  2. Thank you for another brilliiant and inspirational post! I has really made me think and do some planning! Useful habits make the biggest difference in the end but it’s also important to have achievable goals too as the sense of achievement is what keeps us going. 🙂

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