Ya Gotta Have a Goal

by Linda Parelli
from Linda’s Journey

This article was originally published in the August 2010 issue of Savvy Times magazine. Recent back-issues of Savvy Times are available for Parelli members in the Resources section of Parelli Connect.

I remember getting into the business world in my early twenties and being exposed to goal setting. I hated it. At the seminars we were encouraged to set a goal for what we would be earning by when, what our house would look like, how many kids, etc. For some reason I just couldn’t do it that way. So I decided to come up with a couple of goals I could work on each and every day that I thought would also help me be successful in whatever I did. They were (and still are):

To be happy.
To be excellent.

They have served me well over the years and continue to be an important checklist for me. Being happy doesn’t necessarily mean smiling and skipping around 24 hours a day. It means finding a way to be passionate about what I’m doing or not doing it.

However, there comes a time—even I have to admit it—when you realize you need something that makes you want to get out of bed in the morning vs. have to. Luckily I have lots of such things—our business, our cause, you guys, teaching, writing, traveling, touring—but somewhere along the line I lost the passion for my horsemanship goals.

A few years ago I had reached a point where I didn’t really know what I was working on with Remmer anymore. We were at the top of the Levels, performing all over the country and beyond, but not reaching further than that together. Something had to change. Pat and I were talking, and I said, “You know, I’d like to pursue my dressage education again.”

That reignited my desire, and I’m lucky to have mentors who enhance that for me—Walter Zettl and, of course, Pat Parelli. From that moment till now, every time I go and play with Remmer I know where I’m going and what I want to achieve. Even when work gets a bit overwhelming and I can’t be out there with him, I’m still thinking about it, rehearsing in my head and as I drive my car!

So I want to ask you: What is your goal for your horsemanship? Do you have one? Can you respond within five seconds? It’s important to have a goal you are passionate about because it will fuel you in every way. You’ll get out of your comfort zone, learn things you never expected to, get to new levels of trust and connection with your horse, accomplish things that most people don’t, feel more alive!

Here are some ideas I have to help you define your horsemanship goals. Grab a pen and circle the ones that apply to you and fill in additional ones you can think of.

Check Yourself Out:

  1. Pick one thing that is the most important for you in your horsemanship (you can only pick one!):
    1. fun
    2. harmony and trust
    3. study and learning
    4. achievement

  2. Choose what is most important to you right now:
    1. Safety, overcoming fear
    2. Fun
    3. Excellence

  3. What Level of horsemanship skill would you like to have:
    1. Level 1
    2. Level 2
    3. Level 3
    4. Level 4
    5. Professional
    6. Performance (competition, Parelli Games, demos)

  4. What are some things you believe get in the way of you achieving these goals?
    1. Work
    2. Time
    3. Money
    4. Lack of support (friends, family)
    5. Other _________________________

Okay, here we go…

No excuses!

The thing that most people hang on to, including me at times, is a set of excuses for why we are not achieving our goals. But the truth is we are probably not really clear on our goals, have lost sight of them, they’re too big, or they’re not exciting and compelling enough. The last one is usually it.

Sure, working less, having more money or time would be great, but I know lots of people who have all of these and still don’t go and play with their horses—and thousands of people who are living their dream with horses while working their butts off! You’ve got to be in touch with your dream. Remember how passionate you are about horses? Don’t lose sight of that. Passion is what drives a fulfilling life.

Write it down. What is your DREAM with horses? Your DREAM!

Get your goals straight

Write them down, BIG. Post them somewhere visible so you focus on them every day in some way, and add some steps to achieving those goals, such as self-assessments, play days, getting your next Savvy Club DVD or magazine,lessons, clinics or courses. For me, having sessions with Walter every two months sure helps keep me on track!

Consider time lines

It may or may not help you to have time lines. Do what works for you. Personally, I don’t like having them, but I’m motivated enough by feeling success in some small way every day.

Solve problems quickly

There’s nothing worse than feeling stuck. That alone can be terribly de-motivating, so remember all the resources that we have here for you, such as the Savvy Club Vault, tour events, activity groups (study buddies), the DVDs and magazines and our wonderful Parelli Professionals. Stay connected.


Make sure you celebrate your smallest achievements, not just the big ones. Think of ways to do this that would be meaningful for you. Let your friends know, get together with like-minded people to make sure you have support—that sure does help!

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