It's taken me a while to learn this, and honestly, it's still a work in progress and practice. There is a balance to be found in all of this, but expecting something to go a certain way is a sure fire way to find yourself disappointed. Here is what I have to keep tabs on and loosen up about:
Expecting my husband (who is a farrier) home at the time he says
Expecting to make a “winning” run again because I did the last run
Expecting people to put in as much effort into something as I do
Expecting to get all the things on my “to do” list done
Expecting to be perfect because I think I should be
Expecting others to be perfect because I think they should want to be
The thing is, expectations aren't fair. They aren't fair to you, your people or your horses. I'm not saying to have no plans, goals or ambitions. Keep those, but stay flexible. Realize that firm expectation may be undermining your happiness. Expectations potentially set us, and others up for failure. Expectations assume that we actually have a lot of control over things that we really don't.
How I work with expectations and my “mental toughness” as a competitor is actually pretty simple. I imagine how I want things to go through visualization. I do the necessary work for that to be a possibility (I don't visualize riding and then eat a sandwich, I actually go ride too). I express gratitude for the great runs from the past and the future. I step into the pre-performance energy of a winning run and I make my run according to my game plan and in the end, it is what it is. If it's a back to back “winning” run I am thrilled with that bonus. And that's what I see it as, a bonus. If my husband is home on time, that's a bonus too!
Some of my worst runs have come off the back of a great run because I've put too much pressure on myself and my horse to do it again. I had changed the energy going into that run to that of an expectation. We want to be back in the energy of a clean slate where we have no expectation and we're just going to make a run. As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, we want to step into the energy of that winning run so it's important that when we do have that great run, we take note of that zone and the mental state we were in before that great run. We need to step back into that energy and repeat it.
It really is part of the “human experience” to have unrealistic expectations and to set ourselves for disappointment, so go easy on yourself if you're guilty of this. Be aware of what your habits are around this and keep an eye on it. Have humor around your natural tendency to think things should go a certain way. I often joke about how no one is “following my script” as if everyone should be reading my mind and know exactly what I expect and when.
Put your “hopes” out there and set goals, but loosen off and know that when things don't work out, there's often a greater reason than we know. Sometimes it takes a while for us to know the reason and often we never figure it out. Maybe it's just the fact that circumstances changed. Keep the faith that things work out as they should and everyone is just trying their best. Yourself included. Keeping this attitude will save you a lot of stress and bring you closer to aligning with happiness and a winners vibe.
Signing out to go practice what I preach,
PS. If you're looking to dive deeper into your “Mental Toughness” skills, keep an eye out for our second round of Boot Camp that will be announced soon. Sign up for my newsletter if you haven't already and be one of the first to know.