Pro Goal-Setting Tips

Kick 2022 into high-gear by setting goals developed with tips from an expert coach.

New year, new you: It sounds cliché, and it’s a bit over-the-top in the grand scheme of goal-setting and achievement. But the clean slate January offers is a perfect time to thoughtfully consider your riding goals. Here, professional coach Katie Hollingsworth of Krave Coaching and Consulting shares her tips for setting goals and achieving them.

Professional coach Katie Hollingsworth of Krave Coaching and Consulting shares her tips for setting goals and achieving them.

Tip #1: Be SMART

If you’ve done any research into goal-setting, SMART Goals aren’t new to you. If you need a refresher, this means the goals you set are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.

Hollingsworth grants that it’s terrific to have one big, overarching goal, but you’ll need a goal for each step along the way.

“Break down your big goal into the SMART components, and then identify obstacles that could get in your way and how you’ll hold yourself accountable throughout the process,” she shares.

Tip #2: Be Values-Focused

What motivates you, matters most to you, or keeps you going? It could be money, recognition, connection with your horse—no matter what they are, you must identify your core values, and your goals should align with those.

“Goal-setting and the work toward your goals are very personal processes, and alignment with your values is critical,” Hollingsworth says. “Don’t set goals about what you think you’re supposed to be. You’ll quit. Connecting to your core values will keep you on track and help you work toward achievement.”

Tip #3: Be Accountable

You can set a goal to tackle a tough trail or shave a second off your barrel pattern all day long, but if you’re not accountable to the goal, it’s all talk and no action.

“I suggest using an accountability partner,” Hollingsworth says. “It can come in the form of an accountability partner (your spouse, a peer, or a friend who checks in on you to ensure that you’re sticking to your goals) or a coach. But more importantly, via self-check-ins with the actions you take toward your goals and how they align with your values.”

Tip #4: Be Grateful

NRHA Professional Sebastian Petrol discussed the importance of gratitude in the February 2021 Rider’s Mindset, and Hollingsworth agrees.  

“Confidence comes from recognizing success,” Hollingsworth says. “People say they want to stay humble and hungry, but acknowledging what you’ve done is what keeps you going.”

Tip #5: Be Mindful

It’s easy to feel motivated and inspired after listening to an inspiring podcast or reading a motivating book. But you have to put your mind to actually enacting the things you learned that inspired you. Hollingsworth calls this “inspired action.”

“We give credence to the importance of mindset, but we don’t act on it,” Hollingsworth says. “What will you do to enact what you learned and capitalize on what inspired you? You can do all the clinics and lessons you want. Unless you’re consistently growing, you’ll revert to your former tendencies.”

Tip #6: Be Ready to Fail

We all go off track—circumstances arise that sidetrack our progress, but we have to be ready for it and jump back in.

“Evaluate what happened with curiosity,” Hollingsworth says. “Consider why you got off track—was it time, resources, the weather, or something else? That’s a step of accountability. Discuss it with your accountability partner. Then consider the aspects of that lapse that you can control in the future, such as how you allocate your time. Also, realize that sometimes you just need a break.”