• Claudia Dineen

Take the Pressure Out of Goal Setting With These 3 Tips

I absolutely hate having to set goals. When I worked in corporate, goal setting was something of an annual joke, and usually an exercise in creative writing.


But we’re horse people, right? Goals are mandatory, especially if you compete, right?

How many shows are you going to do this year? What’s your timeline for getting out of Novice or getting to Level 1? Are you racing for the world show this year?


OMG - the PRESSURE! For some people, their goals are their protein. They have to have them, and they crave the excitement that brings! It’s what gets their blood moving every day.


For me, it’s kryptonite. When I do force myself to set a goal or even so much as actually speak a goal out loud, I literally feel the weight of it take over my body.


That show, or buckle, or world show might be 11 months away! But, immediately the butterflies in my stomach turn into hummingbirds. My mouth goes dry, and I SOOO want to run the other way.


But you can’t NOT have goals…. How will you ever improve? Will people (friends, trainers) ever take you seriously if you don’t have goals? (Yep, I think of it that way… )


If this sounds at all familiar, these 3 tips might be just what you need to take some pressure off yourself.


1. Be at “home on a range” with goals.

Okay, that’s corny - but here’s the deal. Go ahead and set that big goal, but be flexible. For example, if competing at the world show sounds scary, set a goal to “qualify for the world show” this year. Do the research and find out what that entails. If the requirements aren’t feasible, allow yourself to change the goal!


2. Make today your… DAY.

YES - Be brave! Be bold! But instead of thinking about that “big show” that’s 11 months away, think about what you can do today to make progress towards achieving that goal. For me, it’s committing to ride my horse at least 4 days a week, and getting at least 1 lesson in each month, 2 if finances allow.


3. Take one a day.

Not the vitamin, the opportunity! Each day, focus on finding just one way to help yourself progress toward your goal. Maybe it’s finding a friend to ride with this week. Maybe it’s turning your phone off until you get done riding, today.



These three tips are a relatively new discovery for me but have helped me immensely over the last couple of months. In fact, here are a few of the surprising things I’ve found in applying these tips for myself:

  • “Flex” goals are easy to talk about with family, friends, and even trainers!

  • I’m more at ease because I’m grounded in my reality. My world won’t end if I only ride 3 times this week, or if we don’t place well in the next show.

  • It’s a process, we are a work in progress, and that's okay.

One final tip, reward yourself! Don't reserve those pats on your back for the actual goal accomplishment. Kudos are appropriate when progress is made. Remember, you're trying. Which is awesome!


You're awesome, your horse is awesome, and you deserve a hamburger. Or vodka. Maybe both!


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Have you ever felt trapped by your goals? Do you have creative ways of dealing with goal pressure? I’d love to hear your story!


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Writing remotely from
- The Heart of Horse Country - 
Tioga, Texas USA

All content © Runaway Writing 2020