Happy new year and welcome to the “Mind and Body Wellness” column! This is going to be an exciting year, filled with information, insight and suggestions for you to improve your mind’s wellness. Let’s think about our mind as not just our brain, but our emotions, thoughts, feelings and perceptions as well as the ability to put them together for something called “consciousness.” We have such great capacity within our minds, yet the strategies to tap into them remain elusive to many of us.
Actually, it’s not that difficult. It just requires time, energy, a plan and commitment. The factor I see most people struggle with is time. We are in such a hurry to get better, that often we give up before we even give ourselves a chance. None of the great success stories happened overnight, so instead, imagine what you could accomplish in the year 2015. What would a year of focused intent and actions produce? When I think of mind wellness I think of improving the health of your individual consciousness and awareness and your power to use them. It is my hope that, with this column, you will gain new tools, have new insights, connect to your distinct abilities and be able to use these tools in a way that causes change and increases happiness and effectiveness. Oh yeah, and helps you ride better!
Since it’s January, how many of you made new year’s resolutions? Any of them the same ones as last year, and the year before that? A little tweak, and you can make them a valuable tool. The root word “resolve” is actually pretty powerful itself. However, I find that new year’s resolutions get smothered in champagne and noise-makers, turning them into a novelty instead of their actual definition, which is “act determining upon an action or course of action.”
I find that most resolutions are poorly worded and steeped in emotion and “fixing,” instead of direction and power. What if you got serious about it and treated it like a goal? What if you applied some goal-setting parameters to your resolution and wrote it down? What if you created a list of actions to take to accomplish this goal and then figured out who/what/when/how/where you will need to make this happen? Is this starting to sound different already?
Let’s make this year a little different by adding a pinch of power and a healthy dose of rational thinking. What do you really want to make happen in 2015? What area of your life, if you were able to improve it (even slightly), would make a difference in your riding?
Pick one. I know there are many, but you want to win at this, so let’s start with one to keep things manageable. Now, go get a pen and paper and write it down. I would even invest in a journal or pad because writing, as opposed to typing, creates better connections in your brain.
Goals need several components to be powerful. Think of it as SMARTS:
1. Specific: Narrow it down to one thing. There will be plenty of time for the rest. Let’s get started with one and get good at the process.
2. Measurable: If you can’t measure it, you can’t prepare for it and you will never know if you did it. Being a “better” rider is impossible to measure. Qualifying for the Second Level regional championships is specific and measurable and, by the way, will make you a better rider.
3. Action-oriented: A good goal creates a pathway of actions. You need a to-do list to guide you and keep you
4. Realistic but challenging: If your goal is too hard or too easy, it won’t motivate you. If it’s a big challenge,
but somewhere inside you know you can do it, it not only will motivate, but inspire you.
5. Time sensitive: Create a deadline. There is no “someday” in a calendar so put a “by when” on it.
6. Support: It takes a village so who is on your team? And do they know it?
Now that you have a goal, create your action plan. You will need to spend some time on this. Plot it out, put things in your calendar, look for what new things you need to acquire, learn, unlearn or improve upon.
Remember, it will take time and energy to accomplish this goal, so make those important parts of your action plan. Which milestone will you reach by next month’s column?
Next month: Visualization. If you are not in Wellington, the only riding you might be doing is in your mind (especially in the Northeast). If you are in Wellington or showing elsewhere, let’s get you ready to really rock the show ring using visualization.
Jenny Susser has a doctoral degree and is licensed in clinical health psychology, specializing in sport psychology. A four-year all-American swimmer at UCLA, she swam on two national teams and at the 1988 Olympic Trials. She has worked with athletes of all sports and ages, collegiate, professional, international and amateur. She was the sport psychologist for the 2010 WEG South African Para-Dressage Team and the 2012 U.S. Olympic Dressage Team. Dr. Susser is also a performance coach with Human Performance.