What do most successful athletes have in common? They have big dreams: they reach for the stars and want to be the best in whatever they pursue. They set high goals and will do anything to reach them. Although this hunger and drive is important—if not crucial—to succeed, it can also become a heavy burden.

When we set the bar too high, our expectations can become the kind of pressure that pushes us down instead of lifting us up to rise to the occasion. It can keep us constantly running to achieve more. Though it is important to know where you want to go and to have big dreams, when we solely focus on the final destination, we can become frustrated and lose motivation over time.

You will know you set the bar too high when you can’t be happy—nor feel successful or valuable—without reaching your goals. You probably have attached too much importance to the end results. Instead, the ability to let go of results and only focus on the present will give you the freedom to fully engage in the process.

A few tips to help you let go:

1. Set achievable, process-based, sub goals. In other words, you can set big goals but make sure you create many small steps in between to focus on until you reach your ultimate destination.

2. Set realistic expectations for yourself and your horse. You or your horse may have experience at a certain level—however, when you go up in classes too quickly, you run the risk of harming your confidence.

3. Stay in the moment! It’s the only thing you can influence right now. You can’t change the past anymore, and you don’t know what will happen in the future, but you do have influence over your thoughts and actions in this moment.

4. Remember what you and your horse have already achieved. Taking the time to look back for a moment and realize what you and your horse have already accomplished together. This will help you to stay appreciative and grateful.

5. Enjoy the journey! Appreciate the fact that you are able to ride and connect with an extraordinary animal. Take the time to enjoy that trust and relationship together. After all, it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.

annetteWith 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 apperformancecoaching.com.