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Have you heard that many young couples put more time & effort into planning their wedding, than planning their marriage?
It’s a shame to think that happens, but a lot of people also put more time & effort into planning their New Year’s Eve celebrations than they do planning their New Year.
Just like any great barrel run requires a good start in the alley – when we prepare ourselves with a great beginning, we set ourselves up for success in everything we do.
No matter what time of year (or month, or day) it is, don’t underestimate the power of planning for success!
The ten tips below were developed to help catapult you toward your wildest barrel racing dreams in the new year.
My wish is that 12 months from now, you’ll look back and realize you’ve gone above and beyond!
To begin, let’s…
1. Look in the Rearview – A big part (and the first part) of planning a successful new year comes in reflecting on the past year. This is a great way to realize what’s working, what’s not, AND start thinking about what to do about it!
Below are some questions to get you started…
- If you could describe the past year with a theme, phrase or word, what would it be?
- What are you most proud of this year?
- In what areas did you fall short?
- How have you grown in your horsemanship, barrel racing, AND as a person this year?
- How did you serve others this year?
- Was there anything that surprised you?
- What brought you the most happiness?
- What would you like to celebrate?
- Did you experience everything you wanted this year? Why or why not?
- Who/what are you most grateful to/for this year (have you acknowledged them)?
- What was the most FUN you had this year?
- What would you like to let go of and NOT carry forward into the New Year?
- What qualities did you strengthen this year?
- What DREAMS came true for you?
2. Plan to Succeed – There is much more to planning a successful year that writing barrel races down on a calendar. If you’re not sure where to get started, “Out with the Goals, In with the New – What Do You Desire?” offers a free, downloadable, printable worksheet to help you get crystal clear on what you desire to be, do and have in the new year.
Expect to spend several hours and even up to a day or more on planning. Of course, it doesn’t ALL have to be done at once. If necessary, don’t hesitate to chip away at your new year plan throughout the whole month of December (or even January). Just DO IT!
Staying on track with your yearly plan means breaking it down into smaller bite size pieces as you go. At the end of each day, plan for the following day, which may be as simple as scratching some notes on a Post-It. Once a week (Sundays are great), plan your activities, work, riding schedule, meals, etc. for the next seven days. A few minutes spent preparing allows you to start each day or week with focus and clarity. This can literally save you hours in lost productivity as you try to regain traction after getting sidetracked and spinning your wheels with distractions.
“Failing to plan is planning to fail.” ― Alan Lakein
3. Quality over Quantity – Have you ever made a decision or commitment, then later regretted it, after realizing just how time consuming it was, or that it didn’t really resonate with what you wanted? We all get inspired to DO more, more, more, but my personal theme for years now has been to do less, less, less with more quality and attention. Sometimes saying “YES” to our dreams means learning to graciously say “NO” to others.
It’s not everyone’s tendency to bite off more than they can chew, but it’s certainly mine! When you overbook yourself, you and everyone around you suffers (including your horses). This habit prevents us from really being at our best. Be realistic about the time involved in what you commit to, and if anything give yourself a little buffer or margin in your schedule.
If you’d like to recognize and weed out distractions, allowing you to focus on what really matters, you’ll love “Are Time, Energy & Money Parasites Stealing Your Barrel Racing Dreams?”
4. Learning, Action, Tools – For every desire you’re determined to accomplish in the new year, there will be three specific areas that require further consideration (YES – more planning!). For each area you identify in step two, create three columns.
The first is for LEARNING. What books, DVDs, lessons, resources, clinics, etc. do you need to dive into this year? Next is ACTION. Be specific about what daily action steps need to take place to make your dreams reality. Third is TOOLs – what tools will be absolutely necessary, what tools will be helpful? Start making plans now to have access to the tools needed to successfully achieve your desires.
5. Think it, Have it, OWN it – This isn’t a time to be wishy washy. If you’re not SUPER serious and committed to any of the desires you’ve identified, then save them for another time when you are. It doesn’t serve you to plan your year with lukewarm desires, in fact doing so usually ends up in disappointment. If you find yourself feeling this way, do some personal digging to find out what REALLY DOES light your fire, OR why your flames have been smothered.
This is not a time to declare what you “kind of want.” Yes, it’s important to be flexible with your desires. Just like our horses must know their path around the pattern, they must also be willing to receive guidance. My best advice here is to focus more on the content of your desires (how you FEEL) more than the frame (the label or achievement). At the same time, remember that when you crave your desires like you crave air, and when you make up your MIND that they will come to pass, there’s not many obstacles that can get in the way of that!
“You cannot make it as a wandering generality. You must become a meaningful specific.” – Zig Ziglar
6. Get Visual – One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in planning my year in the past, has been not making my desires visual enough. I prefer to use a large wall calendar so I can size up the entire year at a glance. I routinely create screensavers on my computer stating my yearly desires, and I also have a multi-picture frame with words I choose as part of my theme for my year. However, I’ve realized that I don’t often sit at the computer and look at my screensaver. And that frame with the words? It ended up in storage most of the year. My husband posted his desires near his desk, but in a barely legible font – that’s no way to do it either.
My best advice is to GO BIG in this area so that there’s no way you can FORGET about your burning desires. I know, in the chaos of life, how easy it is for all the little everyday things to sidetrack us – before we know it, we’ve gone way off course and lost perspective of the BIG picture.
I encourage you to choose one or more ways to make your desires very visual! Channel your inner third grader and create a vision board with images of what you desire in the new year and hang it where you’ll see it. Make an inspirational video and watch it every day – burn those images into your brain! Print out your desires and place each one in an 8×10 frame to put on your kitchen wall – who cares if it doesn’t go perfectly with your décor, or if others will see it (they can help keep you accountable)!
Make a declaration of your desires in such a big, visual way that you CANNOT ignore them, and CANNOT forget them – no matter what! That way, they are always staring you in the face, “speaking” you to, AND working on your behalf.
7. Radical Self-Care – I’m realizing more and more just how much better I operate, how much more productive I am, and how much the quality of what I do is affected when I actually take care great of myself. The difference is incredible. If there ever was a sport that required us to be mentally and physically sharp – barrel racing is it!
The transition to taking better care of myself has been a long, gradual one and I believe there is a strong connection to our own self-worth – we won’t take care of what we don’t love and appreciate, so it all starts with the relationship with ourselves. When I really started to dream of doing BIG things in the world, it motivated me to treat my body like the high performing machine it really is.
Don’t underestimate the power of diet and exercise for mental and physical clarity and quickness, as well as more energy, fewer mood swings, and so much more! And by all means – work hard, play hard, and REST hard! When I say “rest hard,” I don’t mean watch TV or mindlessly surf the internet. Everything in life either adds to our life, takes away from it, or is neutral. Try to pick forms of relaxation that actually ADD to your life – for me, simply SLEEPING is where it’s at. Choose something that really fuels you from the inside out (which most likely isn’t done in front of a TV or computer screen).
8. Relationship Reality – If you are very driven to achieve big things in the barrel racing world, it’s not unlikely that your personal relationships with family and friends have suffered. It’s easy for relationships to be put on the back burner and seem “optional.” Let me tell you, quality time with your friends, family and especially spouse, no matter how understanding, and supportive they are, and how much they love you unconditionally – is NOT optional (if you want the relationships to last anyway)!
It doesn’t matter how long you can get by, or how long your relationships seem to stay intact even when they’ve been neglected – when this happens, they ARE at risk of falling apart. If everything in our lives was stripped away, what would really matter in the end, is the relationships we have with others. Don’t let your passion for barrel racing damage them. There WILL be sacrifices, all kinds of them, no doubt, but don’t let them be too great, in this area especially.
One of my desires for the coming year is to stick to my husband and I’s “sustainability plan,” which consists of scheduled dates and fun things we do together for the health of our relationship. Unfortunately the saying “If it’s not scheduled, it’s not real,” becomes all too true. Relationships don’t tend to thrive when left on autopilot. As you plan for the new year, I encourage you to think of ways make them great – intentionally and on purpose!
Also, even if you’re a more introverted type like myself who is actually energized by alone time, don’t underestimate the power of therapeutic time with supportive, like-minded barrel buddies. Strong positive relationships in life are what it’s ALL about, true success means making sure these areas are nourished!
9. Abundant Barrel Racing – At one particularly frustrating moment with my horse this fall, I interrupted my thought patterns and asked myself – What is this REALLY all about? I was trying to achieve a certain desire/goal, but deep down my motive was to check it off my “list” so I could move on to the next thing. In all honesty, the next thing was a BIG work related project, and my horsemanship goal wasn’t really a huge part of that, and it was just taking too darn much time!
The root of my frustration was based on lack (feelings of not enough time and resources), and I was ALSO experiencing the result of putting way too much on my plate. The bottom line is that this horsey lifestyle we love requires a hefty financial investment. The higher level we compete at, the greater the investment required. So although I plan to dive into this subject in detail in the future (an article on fund raising, financial planning, budgeting and sponsor pursuit for barrel racers – yeah!), my advice here as you plan for the new year is to actually crunch the numbers. Be clear and realistic about the costs involved in what you want to do, and your current income level. If the two don’t match up – get busy figuring out how you can generate more income, or consider scaling back on your traveling for the time being.
Financial stress adds stress to every other aspect of life, but we can do something about it. In simple terms, it comes down to living within our means, avoiding debt whenever possible, establishing an emergency fund, and working to pay off existing debt. As one of my favorite Dave Ramsey sayings goes “What can you do with your income when you don’t have any payments? Anything you want!” Sign ME UP!
10. Get On (and Stay On) the Right Track – I’ve already mentioned the importance of planning but I can’t emphasize enough what a difference a positive morning routine can make. Successful days turn into successful years, and successful days depend on great mornings!
Avoid starting your day by scrolling through email, Facebook or the news first thing. If necessary, leave your phone in another room at night. You might sit up and devote a few minutes simply to stillness and quiet, or spend some time diving into uplifting reading, journaling or prayer.
No different than your start in the alley, when you prepare yourself well in the morning, you’re on the right track to have a super powered, positive day! Garbage in equals garbage out, be particular about what you take in, especially in the mornings by putting off checking news, mail or social media for at least an hour and you’ll be surprised by how it improves you day, outlook and life in general!
In conclusion, and most importantly, remember these wise words from Zig Ziglar…
“You were born to be a winner, but to win you must prepare to win, plan to win, and expect to win.”
1. Click here to download the “Year in Review” questions above in a convenient, printable PDF worksheet.
2. Read “Out with the Goals, In with the New – What Do You Desire?” and click here to download your free, printable worksheet to get clear on what you want to be, do and have in the New Year.
3. For each desire you identify – think about, write down and plan for the learning, action and tools that are necessary for each to come true in the coming months.
4. Get creative and make it visual in the form of a vision board, mind movie, a HUGE calendar, posters on your fridge or wall – whatever works for YOU to keep your desires at the center of your attention at all times!
5. Review the TEN tips above as a checklist to make sure you’re implementing all the important ingredients necessary to make your New Year the best ever!
In the comments below, share what YOUR desires are, and which of these ten tips you plan to implement!