Research shows that people who can visualize themselves succeeding in each part of the process are much more successful than those who focus on the end result. Photo@Ali Grusha

What’s Out and What’s In for 2015 with Kirsten Farris

It’s that time again. You made it through Thanksgiving, the presents have been opened and 2014 is coming to a close. Finally with a moment to yourself you prepare to partake in the last holiday tradition of the year, which isn’t to fire up the blender and and binge drink margaritas, it’s time to reflect on the past and make resolutions for the future. That’s right, it’s Resolution Time!

This is the fifth year that I have written for, and in case you are not familiar with my position on New Year’s Resolutions, let’s put it this way, I am not a fan.

I’ll sum it up in one long, poorly written sentence. Resolutions remind us of what we should do, what we don’t have, they create the, “I’ll be happy when (Insert Goal Here) happens” syndrome, and for the majority of people, they are forgotten by March, if not before.

In my opinion, resolutions are not an effective strategy for making long lasting change. To add insult to injury, the so called ‘Resolutions Gurus’ already know this, but instead of adopting a different approach, they come up with some techniques designed to keep you on track. Perhaps you have personally experienced one, two or all three of what I like to call the ‘Holy Trinity of Resolution Keeping’ designed to reduce the side effects of the process.

  • Write it down – You want to constantly remind yourself of your big goal
  • Visualize the end result – You will believe it when you see it
  • Put a Date when you will achieve it – A goal without a time frame is just a dream.

Now, I may be being a bit sarcastic, and for some people, these tactics may be successful. If you fall into this category, you can stop reading this article now and you will have everything you need to accomplish your resolution or goal. However, if these strategies have not helped you get your outcome, you might want to try something new and different. Oh, and in case you think I am a New Year’s Scrooge, I will do it in one of my favorite New Year Traditions, The What’s Out and What’s In list, and even tell you how to put it in action!

Out for 2015–Write it Down

I love this one! You need to write down your goal and then put it on sticky notes all over the house, at work, in the car and especially or the mirror so you see your face and your goal together to remind yourself what it is that you want. Really? If your goal is so big and motivating, why can’t you remember it?

In for 2015–Go after things that are compelling to you

I find it curious that in my ‘real life’ I basically suck at mundane tasks like going to the post office or doing laundry. However, when those tasks arise in my ‘equine life’ I am all over it. Lyle has more clean laundry than I do, and If I need to mail something that involves anything horsey, it gets done immediately, and I am happy to do it. When we do things that are compelling, they get done because first and foremost, we want to do them as well as we need to do them.

How it works: Let’s say you want to lose 10 pounds, after all, you should lose the weight because your clothes are getting tight and you feel kind of sluggish. This is one of those wishy-washy things, the want and the should are about equal, but your reasons for doing it are negative- tight clothes and feeling sluggish.

This is when one of those pesky sticky notes on the refrigerator reminding you that “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels” will probably get you a date night with Ben and Jerry. The first thing is to attach your goal to something compelling- maybe it’s looking great in your show outfit, feeling extra energy or whatever is truly compelling to you. Now when you think about losing the 10 pounds, you have it attached to something that makes this something that you truly want to do, and now you are actually excited about the direction that you have chosen for yourself.

Out for 2015–Visualize the end result

How many of you have ever visualized winning a World Championship? I would bet almost everyone who competes at a World Show has created a very compelling picture of taking that victory lap and being handed the gold trophy. Let me ask you this- if that is such a brilliant strategy, why is the failure rate about 98%? To put it in simple terms, that strategy only works for one person in each class. For most people, deep down inside, seeing yourself with the big prize does not seem completely realistic because you may have doubts about your ability and/or resources that are necessary to achieve that goal. If you truly believe that you can win, and have done the same visualization for the last four years and always come up short, chances are when you start to visualize yourself in the Winner’s Circle, you may remind yourself of your actual track record and you won’t take the visualization exercise very seriously.

In for 2015–Visualize Yourself being successful in the Process

Research shows that people who can visualize themselves succeeding in each part of the process are much more successful than those who focus on the end result. To take it one step further, knowing how you WANT TO BE during the process and feeling what it feels like when you are being that way will take your game to a whole new level.

How it Works: Let’s say that you are showing in Trail at a Major Show. In the past, you may have visualized yourself as the last one standing with a score of 239, but even with your compelling, sensory rich vision, that scenario didn’t happen in real life. Instead, you give it some thought, and ask yourself, “How do I want to be when I am preparing and showing in trail?” and you come up with decisive, focused and precise. Now for the icing on the cake, you experience how it feels when you are decisive, focused and precise, and now you are feeling confident and have a sense of knowing that you can do this.

Now instead of visualizing the end result, you see yourself being decisive, focused and precise, each time you ride, and that is what will create the feeling of confidence that you need to achieve what you want.

Out for 2015–Put a date on it

Enough with deadlines. Most people have more items on their To Do list than their All Done List, so why create stress by attaching some date you pulled out of the air and decided that come hell or high water, this ‘thing’ will be done by June 7th, 2015. Perhaps the Goal Gurus through that making something time bound will turn a dream into reality because it forces us to come up with an action plan. In many cases, a goal bound by time is just one more reason why people give up, since the due date becomes one of the criteria for the goal and it serves as a reminder that once again, I set a goal didn’t get it done. If you set a goal and achieve it six months or six years later, does it make that accomplishment null and void?

In for 2015–If it’s important, I will be able to take the smallest next step toward what I want.

If you truly want to accomplish something in your life, and you are compelled to do so, you don’t need an arbitrary time line to help you get out of the starting gate because you will be chomping at the bit to make it happen.

How it Works: Basically apply what you just learned–see yourself succeeding in the process and once you come up with a goal that is compelling, and you can see yourself succeeding in the process and you are feeling all those awesome feelings, ask yourself, “What is the smallest, next step I can take that will get me where I want to go?”

The key word in the sentence is SMALLEST. Sometimes taking a deep breath, going outside for a walk or hugging your horse is all you need to do to keep you moving in the direction of your dreams and after all, would you rather accomplish a dream, or a goal?

Kirsten Farris is a regular contributor to and a Certified Sport Consultant, Certified Equestrian Fitness Trainer, and the Author of The Workbook for the Equestrian Athlete – A Guide to Showring Success. Kirsten and her horse, Lyles Al Lie, were the 2012 and 2013 AQHA Select World Champion in Hunter Under Saddle and Reserve World Champions in 2014. For more information contact her at: © 2014