There are times when you might experience very little improvement or the same results over and over again. It is possible that you have hit a plateau, which means your progress has stagnated. Not knowing how to move forward can be frustrating, unless you understand how growth works. Here are five things to keep in mind about the growth process.
1. Adopt a growth mindset.
Change and growth can be scary. Especially when you are afraid to fail, which may be an indication that you have adopted a fixed mindset. Riders who believe that making mistakes is a clear indication that they are not good enough can become paralyzed by the idea of doing just that. To them, riding a perfect round is proof they have what it takes and are talented enough to get to the top. However when they mess up, they either blame everything or everyone else, or their confidence gets crushed.
If you recognize yourself in these examples, realize that there is another mindset that will serve you so much better and that you can choose to adopt it right now. The growth mindset is only focused on improvement, not perfection. Riders in the growth mindset are constantly looking for ways to improve, grow, and get better. They know they will make mistakes and that they can’t win all the time. A great way to grow into a growth mindset is to keep asking yourself, “How can I learn from this?” and, “What can I do today to become a better rider?”
2. Get out of your comfort zone.
Real growth happens when you stretch yourself out of your comfort zone. It doesn’t mean you need to skip three levels, but it does mean you want to try something new when you start to feel comfortable at your current level. If you don’t feel scared at least once a week, you are probably not improving very much. The best way to get out of your comfort zone is by doing it more often. It’s like a muscle, by using it over and over again, it will grow. You want to get used to feeling a little uncomfortable.
3. Growth starts with chaos.
Don’t get discouraged when you’re hitting roadblocks. The process of growth starts with chaos. Getting to a new level is messy at first before it becomes easy. Embrace the chaos and embrace making mistakes. It’s not going to be pretty at first, but do it anyways.
4. Take a thousand small steps forward.
Lao Tzu famously said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Getting out of your comfort zone and trying something new in order to improve can feel overwhelming. The key is to focus on the process and on setting small steps forward. You could try different grid works, work on some more difficult flatwork exercises, or ask some other riders what else you could do to improve. Remember, all those small steps of improvement combine to become massive growth over time!
5. Don’t ever give up.
Research shows that grit, perseverance, and passion determine whether people are will become exceptionally good at what they do. When you hit a plateau or make mistakes, don’t lose hope. Realize it’s all part of your journey and the more you learn from it, persevere, and keep working at it, the better you will become.
-Photo credit: Bret St. Clair
Written by Annette Paterakis
Annette Paterakis - The Equestrian Mental Coach - specializes in mental coaching for riders of all levels. She is passionate about working with riders and trainers to help them better understand the mind and reach peak performance. Annette is the author of the book "Keep Calm and Enjoy The Ride", available through Amazon.com. For more information give her website a gander: annettepaterakis.com