There are loads of articles about making goals and overcoming the awful yearly new year’s resolutions. If you don’t know the psychology behind building better habits and how it can help you progress towards your goals, these articles can help. 

I even wrote one right here on this blog. Check it out after you’ve gone through this post. 

The only problem is that goal setting is only one piece of the puzzle. You have to figure out how you’ll reach those goals. Without some serious reflection on what you want and a plan to make things happen, you end up no closer to feeling ready to bump up to a new level, go to a show, or hit the trails.

That’s why I put together a Review and Action Plan template for you to take stock of your accomplishments and challenges from last year and create manageable goals for the year ahead. 

Take a look at where you’ve been and the lessons you’ve learned along the way.

A big part of The Focused Rider ethos is mindfulness and intentionality. Taking the opportunity to review your actions and find patterns in your behavior can help you determine what’s worked, what hasn’t, and how you can make meaningful change. 

If you’ve been using The Focused Rider Planner over the past year, you’ll have an easy time going back through the weekly and monthly pages to see all of your wins, hiccups, and learnings. Don’t have one? Do the best you can from memory and referring to your calendar. 

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What did you set out to do last year that you achieved?
  • What do you consider your top wins in your riding from last year?
  • What do you consider your top wins in your horse’s training from last year?
  • What did you set out to do last year that you didn’t achieve?
  • What did you most want to achieve with your horse or in your riding that you didn’t?
  • What got in your way to making consistent progress? (i.e. lack of time, injuries, etc.)
  • What are the top 3-5 lessons you learned from this past year? 

Once you’ve dug into the above questions, you might be surprised by how much you and your horse accomplished. All of those small wins compound over time. The key is to retrace your steps to determine how they link together so you can build on your progress and habits in the coming year.

Get clear on what you want and the things you need to do to make it happen.

Before you can start coming up with goals, you need to know what you want. 

Easier said than done.

We often tell ourselves we should be doing X or striving for Y when deep down, we have no desire to do them. 

Been there. Done that. 

Instead of jumping straight on the goal bandwagon, take a few minutes to write down your values. Think about what you value most out of riding, being with your horse, or in life. 

For instance, you might consider going to shows a top goal. After reflecting on your values, you realize connecting with friends is the real motivation behind competing. You might decide dates with friends at the barn to ride or hang out give you more joy than showing.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • List your top 3-5 values. 
  • What do you most want to happen with your riding and/or your horse in the coming year? Based on your values, come up with 3-5 goals you’d like to achieve.

After you’ve considered your long-term goals that align with your values, you can get to the work of cutting those down into smaller chunks.

For more help on determining your goals and understanding motivation, take a peek at this interview on the blog with mental skills coach, Tonya Johnston.

Make an action plan that’s not overwhelming.


Having big ass dreams and goals is great, but if you don’t have a way to reach them effectively, they never happen. 

You can get a better handle on what you want to accomplish and more easily see your progress if you divide your year into quarters with smaller goals tied to action items. 

Break your year up into 3-month blocks and plot out no more than three things you want to accomplish during that time that will help you move forward toward those dream goals. 

The key is to be as specific as you can about what you want to happen and how exactly you’ll get that done. 

Let’s say you’re determined to ride in a show three months from now. One of the things you need to do to make that happen successfully is consistently taking lessons with your trainer. One of your specific actions might be to “Ride in my lessons on Tuesdays and Saturdays at 10 am.”

Over time those days of the week and lessons become cues for you to ride. You’ll know what sort of progress you’re making by comparing what you’ve done with the results you hope to achieve. In the above case, that result might be “Take 24 lessons in the next three months. 

If you have The Focused Rider Planner, you can use the Weekly Habit Tracking pages to get granular with actions or tasks you need to complete. 


Share your goals with others to keep yourself accountable and consistent. 


It’s tough enough to make it out to the barn, exercise, or eat healthy in the middle of winter. Doing these things without support can make them feel downright impossible. 

Reach out to a friend or family member and let them know your plans. Ask them to check-in with you at the end of each week to go over what you were able to accomplish and what you need to work on. 

Getting on the phone is great but even if it’s only a quick text or email, you’ll find yourself feeling less alone. 

Check out this expert advice from dressage trainer, Becky Seizert, with more ideas on staying consistent with your riding. 

Make sure to grab your free Review and Goal Setting Template. Then share your biggest goal for the year ahead on Instagram or Facebook and tag @thefocusedrider so we can cheer you on. 

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