BY Krista Kehoe
Sometimes it seems like as equestrians we are never satisfied.
Although the source of satisfaction may differ because we are looking for the next medal, ribbon or level-up and not a “hook up”; equestrians mirror The Rolling Stones’ lyrics…, ”I Can’t Get No Satisfaction…” as we launch into our next pursuit and the next… and the next. And in doing so, we miss out on savoring:
–the winners’ circle
–or the next step– that we’ve been pursuing with such passion and vigor.
Surprisingly, we don’t just miss out. Many equestrians truly feel let down and disappointed as they cross the finish line of one goal and fail to recognize their growth in that moment.
When “congratulations” from one rider to another is met by the winning recipient with a pivot to the next stretch to the next goal instead of grateful receipt, response and self recognition; it gives one pause. Why can’t we find satisfaction in our WINS? Why do many equestrians leap from one achievement to the next pursuit almost immediately–without pause or appreciation– and is that the experience you WANT to have?
Ask any equestrian and they’ll tell you how much they love the horses. It’s unlikely that they don’t appreciate how awesome the horses are. Perplexed by achievement that doesn’t FEEL like they’ve “arrived”, they launch into the next goal wondering internally why they don’t feel fulfilled.
When you neutralize pleasure or dismiss it regularly enough, the primal human brain just needs MORE. You’re on your way to a never ending road to a destination that can’t exist–but it’s not your fault. You probably didn’t know any other option! And it’s all because of the neural pathways the brain has been practicing along the route to achievement.
Societal expectations to achieve and reach for the “stars” permeate our culture, but equestrians in particular tend to be over-achievers in our long game lifestyle.
As Dan Sullivan and Dr. Benjamin Hardy reference in their book, “The Gap and The Gain: The High Achievers’ Guide to Happiness, Confidence, and Success”, the horizon line will always move forward and if you never take the time to recognize the distance you’ve already traveled, you will constantly measure yourself against how much further you need to go.
This dismissive approach leaves many riders feeling inadequate and frustrated even when their accomplishments are inspiring and impressive to the outside observer.
When you believe that the next goal will make you feel “better”, “enough”, “satisfied” or “worthy, you chase something that doesn’t exist. And if you aren’t self aware, you’ll ride your entire equestrian career in pursuit of a feeling that was always potentially inside of you but never realized because you forgot to start there, with the feeling, FIRST.
It’s not that “having a goal” is problematic. A goal serves effectively as a navigational compass. It gives you a focal point to help you express your inner values concretely with a summative performance in the horse world (or elsewhere in your life). But having an insatiable lust for the next goal upon meeting the last can start to neutralize the pleasure of achievement along the way.
It can suck the proverbial “joy” right out of the “journey” because your focus constantly moves to the next “end point” which has the potential to disappear as quickly as the horizon line moves out of reach. And THIS is why dismissing your wins isn’t motivational, humble or necessary.
So, What’s The Solution?
If you’re an equestrian who is a high achiever and wants to maintain high standards of excellence, you don’t need to stop reaching for the stars. You can continue to invest heavily in your riding skills and education. Campaigning your horse(s) doesn’t even need to change. But if you want to also revel in the satisfaction of a well deserved achievement and feel more joy along your chosen “bridle path”, I want to offer that your mindset needs to be integrated into the journey.
Mindset happens first and the feeling of satisfaction can be cultivated BEFORE you set out on your next path to achievement. And this is the secret most equestrians don’t yet know. So I’m here to bring the good news!
I like to phrase this approach as “BE HER NOW” — Be the rider who already has the award, the medal, the status by working on your self concept.
If you were being “her” now, what would you believe about yourself? What would you feel? You need to practice this feeling now and all along your path to achievement or when you arrive, your brain will be so trained in cultivating the feeling of lack or “not-enoughness” that you will experience your achievement in a fleeting moment that brings short term pleasure instead of long term happiness, satisfaction or joy.
The emotion that fuels the pursuit of your goals matters.
If you’re pursuing your next level goals from an emotion that stems from a mindset tuned into a story of “It’s Never Enough”, a prevailing emotion of scarcity has taken the reins. And no matter how much you achieve, in any arena, you’ll hear the lyrics of Mick Jager echoing in your ears as you perpetuate the same dissatisfied feelings that propelled you in the first place.
You can embrace your personal celebratory moments en route to your goals if you’re willing to venture into your brain with a curiosity toward mindset. A focus on mindset first will help you develop the clarity to see what has propelled you in the past while intentionally distilling who you want to BE as you move through your “long game” equestrian journey. Enjoy this deeply satisfying approach!
Cheers to your next victory and the mindset that allows you to savor the moments along the way!
Krista Kehoe is a Life Coach for Equestrians. A self proclaimed “Horse Girl” in multiple disciplines for 40 years, she is currently pursuing Dressage with her newest horse “Vito”, a Swedish Warmblood. After 20 years as an Educator (High School Biology), helping people reach their full potential is her professional goal. She resides in Iowa with her husband, son and Australian Shepherds and offers 1:1 mindset coaching online. Visit her website: www.kristakehoe.com to access the Equestrian Mindset Masterclass Collection or to set up a consultation to see how mindset coaching can help you create a stable life in AND out of the saddle.