|October 21, 2009||Posted by Melinda under Uncategorized|
What motivates to get out and work your horse on a regular basis? In a broader sense, what motivates you to do any extracurricular activity on a regular basis? (see – non-horsey people can participate too!)
It’s always scary to ask a question on a blog – what if no one answers? what if no one is actually reading? This is coming from a person who is reportedly writing this blog for her own amusement only and (reportedly) would be doing it even if no one was reading….
Here is my views on motivation. I would love to hear yours!
1. Goals. I used to be very goal oriented, and I still am to a lesser degree. In the past, I had to have a goal/purpose to do anything. To run, I needed to be signed up for a race. To ride, I needed to have a upcoming event. However, I’ve found as time goes on, goals are less and less motivating. Even signing up for a marathon won’t get me out the door on cold mornings any more. Signing up for an endurance ride is no guarantee that I will get my conditioning rides done. I still like thinking about goals and putting them on paper, but they have ceased to become the major motivating factor in my activities.
2. Guilt. This goes hand-in-hand with #1. If I didn’t achieve my goal, I would feel guilty. If I didn’t take the steps I knew I needed to take to achieve my goal, I would feel guilty. Motivation by guilt worked for a while. The problem is that over time I gradually became inured to the guilt, and besides, who wants to feel guilty all the time for something that is suppose to be fun?
3. Steep learning curve. This is very motivating at first. I LOVE a learning curve. The problem is that nothing can sustain this level of learning for very long. What happens when the inital learning curve is over? Is there still enough step-wise learning that occurs for the activity to remain rewarding and motivating?
My motivation for Dressage is the learning curve. I think I’m almost past the initial, steep curve, but there’s still enough step by step learning that occurs (moving through the levels and learning new skills) that I still get excited about getting on and practicing.
This has stopped being a major motivating influence in endurance. Of course I am still learning, but now it’s more of application of knowledge, trying new things, building on what has worked in the past. It’s still exciting to integrate new knowledge (hoof boots, electrolyte protocols etc.) but my point is that it’s no longer the primary motivation for endurance riding.
4. Because in the Long Run it matters (maybe). At various points I’ve tried to make my activities “matter” in the long run. Although running and endurance and other riding activities may make me happy and let me lead a joyful, full life, it isn’t the activity that matters so much. Instead, I have come to realize that the activity matters only in how it causes me to interact with other people and how they influence my life and how I influence theirs. In the end, it will be the people in my life that matter. Being a non-people person, this was a hard pill to swallow, but I’m getting better at it! I look for opportunities to interact – a kind smile on the trail, taking extra time to explain something, choosing an activity that involves others instead of always being by myself.
While #4 is not a day to day motivator, I can remember when I had lame horses and was not able to do endurance. I didn’t miss the trails as much as I missed ridecamp and the people! I wanted to get back on the trail so that I could hang out with my friends.
5. Enjoyment. Believe it or not, this is a very recent motivator for me. I’m running and riding today because it brings me joy. Not everything, all the time, has to have a meaning (#4) or purpose (#1). Sometimes it’s ok to do something just because it makes you happy.
I have accepted the fact that running will not make me thin. Doesn’t matter. I have consciously made the decision that I absolutely love the way running makes me feel, therefore I will do it, and not feel guilty that it’s *only* 3-5 miles a day and there is no marathon in my future, and I’m not losing weight, AND I have no plans to increase speed or distance.
Enjoyment is probably the number one reason I get on Farley on a daily basis. A year ago, the answer would probably be very different and have to do with a goal.
Does anyone else have any thoughts?
***PS. I have updated my blog roll on the right. Take a look!