As a coach it is my aim to keep learning and improving myself continuously in order to better help and serve others. I read as much as I can, listen to audiobooks on my travels, get coached myself regularly, and attend trainings throughout the year. In an attempt to summarize all the things I learned in 2017, I have come up with these 11 lessons—and possible New Year’s resolutions for your own training—that I would like to share with you.

1. Ask more.

This year, I started interviewing successful riders in showjumping sport. I’ve been humbled by how much you can achieve and learn when you just ask. I was always a bit shy and I definitely had to get out of my comfort zone when asking riders like Daniel Deusser and Laura Kraut if I could interview them. But, quite quickly, I got used to asking and I’m so excited to share all the things I’ve learned and the insights I received from these amazing riders in my next book (watch this space!)

“Train with full attention, focus, and a clear plan and let improvement be your aim.”

2. Be grateful.

This year, I implemented a new habit into my morning routine. I now start my day with three things I am grateful for and feeling those positive feelings in my body. At first, I didn’t feel much, but after a few weeks, I started to feel more and more grateful throughout the day and realized how lucky I truly am. Never let the things you want make you forget the things you have.

3. Work smarter instead of harder.

What I have realized through my research into peak performance is that practice does not always make perfect. If you work hard on things that don’t create a real impact, you might be wasting time. Getting on eight horses a day and just walking, trotting, and cantering around is not what makes you or your horses that much better. Instead, practice deliberately. Train with full attention, focus, and a clear plan and let improvement be your aim.

4. Stay focused on what sets your soul on fire.

What is it about riding that really makes you happy? It’s probably why you started riding in the first place. One thing I have learned so far by interviewing top riders is that they all have two things in common: they love horses and they love to improve. So, what sets your soul on fire?

Never let the things you want make you forget the things you have.

5. Go with the flow.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Life is not always sweet and easy, but how we respond to challenges makes all the difference. We can fight the things that are not going well, or, we can see it as feedback, find out what we should learn from it, and work on that one step at a time.

6. Read more, watch less.

For me, one of the most inexpensive ways to learn is by reading a good book. For inspiration on great books to train your brain, read my previous blog here. If you would like to read more, but feel like you don’t have the time, consider how much time you spend on social media or watching TV. Could you spend this time on reading instead?

7. What you focus on is what you get.

If you want to feel stuck and unhappy, focus on the negative, comparing yourself to other people and all the things you don’t want and like about your life. Wouldn’t you rather feel empowered and grateful? Focus on yourself, what you CAN do, and what you DO already have. It’s that simple.

8. Be authentic.

Another important lesson I learned from interviewing riders this year is that at some point, most of them realized they are just like anyone else. No more and no less. If you ever feel like you don’t belong at a show and looking at the riders list makes you feel small, remember that, at the end of the day, we are all the same. Stop comparing yourself with others and don’t ever aim to be like another rider. Stay authentic and just work on improving and becoming the best version of yourself.

9. Ask great questions to get great answers.

Did you ever come out of the arena, asking yourself, Why did I ride so badly? What are the odds you get a negative answer to that? Whatever you ask your brain, it will try to answer. So, ask good questions if you want to get good answers. For example: What went well? What could have been better? How can I improve?

“Many extraordinary athletes have described how they felt surprisingly little after finally winning or achieving their lifelong goal.”  

10. Be patient and trust the process.

Focus on improvement, learning, and getting better and keep working smart on the whole process. Then, let all your expectations about the results go and be patient. The best things happen unexpectedly.

11. Enjoy life now.

Many extraordinary athletes have described how they felt surprisingly little after finally winning or achieving their lifelong goal. It might sound corny, but at the end of the day, all we have is this moment. Success is a journey, not a destination.

With a background in the show jumping sport, Annette Paterakis is a performance coach, specialized in mental coaching equestrians. She is passionate about working with riders to help them better understand the mind and to provide the framework for creating the right conditions to reach peak performance.

For more information on Paterakis, please visit her website at www.annettepaterakis.com.

-Photo credit: Tori Repole