Procrastination is the act of delaying or putting off a task or a set of tasks. We may have something which, one one level we wish or know we ought to do but we find excuses for not doing it or not starting. Procrastination can seem harmless but when it becomes a habitual behaviour it can really hamper growth and progress.
Of course we can procrastinate in any are of our lives but let’s focus on horse riding and why many riders put things off repeatedly.
Why Do Riders Procrastinate?
Human beings have a strong tendency to value immediate rewards over future rewards especially when there may be something challenging to be done between now and that future reward.
For example you may wish to learn a new riding skill, but be aware that the process of learning that skill will be a challenge for you, even though the outcome may mean that you will have more fun, so you put off making the call to have some coaching. This gives you the temporary relief (immediate reward) of not having to tackle the challenge but after that moment of relief wears off you are still left with the desire to learn the new skill.
Perhaps you procrastinate about equestrian tasks which you find boring such as poo picking or tack cleaning? By putting these tasks off you’re giving yourself the immediate reward of being able to do something which you prefer rather than allowing yourself the future reward of having a clear field or having nice clean tack next time you ride.
Maybe you have a desire to enter a show or a competition but you keep putting it off telling yourself that you’ll do it “next time”? There may be many reasons why you’re procrastinating here such as worry about not being good enough or fear of being judged. By delaying you give yourself the immediate reward of “Phew! I don’t have to think about that now” over the future reward of how good you will feel when you have achieved something that you have wanted to do for some time.
How to Help Yourself
Setting Clear Goals
One of the primary reasons riders procrastinate is the absence of clear, well-defined goals. Setting specific, achievable objectives gives us a sense of purpose and direction. Start by identifying both short-term and long-term goals. Short-term goals can be daily or weekly targets, such as booking a lesson or hiring an arena. Long-term goals could involve entering a competition or going to a camp. By having a clear vision of what you want to accomplish, you’ll find it easier to prioritise tasks and stay motivated.
Breaking Tasks into Manageable Chunks
Large, daunting tasks can be overwhelming and lead to procrastination. Instead of viewing the task as a whole, break it down into smaller, manageable chunks. For instance, if you need to poo pick the whole field start by doing one area at a time. By breaking tasks into bite-sized portions, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment after completing each one, which can help maintain momentum and minimise the urge to procrastinate.
Creating a Schedule
A well-structured schedule can be a game-changer when it comes to combating procrastination. Schedule your day or your week, allocating specific time slots for horse riding, stable management, and other essential activities. Be realistic with your time estimates, allowing for unforeseen circumstances or breaks. Having a schedule not only helps you visualize your day but also creates a sense of accountability. Stick to your plan as much as possible, and if distractions arise, remind yourself of the goals you have set, why you have set them and the progress you want to make.
Seeking Support and Accountability
Procrastination can often be tackled more effectively with the support of others. Find an accountability partner, such as a fellow rider or a coach, who shares your commitment to overcoming procrastination. Set regular check-ins to discuss your progress, share challenges, and offer mutual encouragement. Having someone to hold you accountable can significantly increase your motivation and help you stay on track.
Celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small. Rewarding yourself after completing a task or reaching a milestone can reinforce positive behavior and motivate you to keep going. Treat yourself to a relaxing hack, a new piece of riding gear, or some quality time with your equine companion. By associating your achievements with positive experiences, you’ll create a positive feedback loop that encourages you to keep pushing forward.
If you are aware of a tendency to procrastinate and would like some help in creating new habits then please do get in touch.