Sunday, January 3, 2010

SWOT analysis and January Goals

This is an idea I got from reading Eventing-A-Gogo, a blog that I really enjoy following (and admire for its author's organization!). In the coming year, I really hope to make very specific and achievable (if sometimes ambitious) goals for each month. Every sports psychology book I've ever read has named this breaking down of big goals into manageable smaller goals as a key to larger success, but it's not something that I've ever really done or followed through on. I often set some pretty big goals for the year, but then proceed to forget about them and wander through the year until the next November where I dig them out and see how I did. I have no idea whether being more goal-specific will actually help me in getting to my ultimate dreams, but I'm excited to give it a try.

First, a SWOT analysis for me and Ringo for 2010:

Strengths:
- Ringo's experience
- Instruction from Gina Miles
- Living/Training in a competitive environment
- My cross country riding
- A good end to the 2009 season to work off of
- Strong financial and emotional backing from parents
- A great support crew in GME and Mom and Dad
- Ringo's textbook jumping form and excellent dressage potential
- My determination and drive
- My basic riding mechanics and form
- Friends at Stanford
- Resources at Stanford
- Truck and trailer for personal transportation
- Ringo's soundness record
- My riding experience
- My experience living on my own
- My intelligence, my strength as a student
- Sports psychology consultations with Abigail

Weaknesses:
- The newness of the partnership
- My show jumping and dressage nerves
- My layoff these past few weeks
- The relative distance still left to be covered to achieve major 2010 goals
- The brevity of the California eventing season
- The current bitting issue
- My warmup nerves
- My stubbornness
- My dressage seat
- My transitions from two point to jumping position
- Distance from home area
- Relative weakness of home area's YR program
- My disorganization
- My lack of knowledge of actual self management
- My cerebral and over-analytical qualities
- My current physical condition
- My lack of international experience
- My lack of high pressure experience

Opportunities:
- Daily training from Gina Miles
- Cross Country schooling at Twin
- Galloping at Rainbow
- Help from Bec
- Coaching at shows,
- Time and financial support to go to shows
- Vet care on site
- Clinics
- Can start budgeting and working while still enjoying financial backing
- Can go to Stanford for emotional escape
- Continued growth mentally with Abigail

Threats:
- Left front tendon
- Cellulitis
- Mystery soundness
- Unforeseen unsoundness
- Personal injury
- Loss of confidence
- Burnout
- Economic difficulties
- Natural/Political disasters
- Acts of God
- Competition
- Bad judging
- Bad weather
- Bad luck


----
Of the Weaknesses and Threats, the following are in my control:

- My show jumping and dressage nerves
- The current bitting issue
- My warmup nerves
- My stubbornness
- My dressage seat
- My transitions from two point to jumping position
- My disorganization
- My lack of knowledge of actual self management
- My cerebral and over-analytical qualities
- My current physical condition
- Loss of confidence
- Burnout


These are the major things I personally need to focus on for the best possible 2010. Some of them will be harder to control than others (loss of confidence, for example), but I think that if I'm being really careful, I can minimize the damage of bad rides and maximize the positive of good rides. I was proud of my work in that department over the past year and hope 2010 will be a continuation of the confidence-building process.

For the disorganization and self-management, that is merely a matter of self-discipline. Am I enough of an adult to actually step up to the plate and start really managing myself? I've taken baby steps before but have always fallen back on my parents when push came to shove; I think more than anything else if I could become more independent and self-reliant this year then I will have achieved a huge success, regardless of how my season of riding actually goes. My procrastination, messiness, and forgetfulness are my least favorite qualities about myself and I am committed to focus on overcoming these vices in 2010.

As for the riding goals, I know that if I'm able to play the game mentally then my body will be able to physically perform well enough. I am a good rider with a good seat and good instincts that can only get better with a good attitude; it's my nerves that get in the way, not only in the show ring but even in lessons and in schooling. If I am able to remain confident, then I know my riding will improve by leaps and bounds.

My current physical condition is probably the easiest for me to manage; I've gotten myself back into shape many times now and know that I have the self control and the toughness to do it; it's just a matter of getting it done.

As for the other weaknesses and threats? They are there, and I certainly have to keep them in mind at all times and work to avoid them as much as I can. However, many of these weaknesses are not directly (or even indirectly) in my control. For example, while I certainly can monitor the progress of his left front tendon and ride soberly and make the best decisions available to me in regards to his care, I can't protect him from every foreseeable problem that might arise with it in a competitive atmosphere. I also can't protect him (or me) from earthquakes, tornados, or civil wars, any more than I can predict the future. I can keep myself as safe as possible, but I have to know that there are some parts of my life that I can't really influence... this is something that I really struggle with, and hopefully going into 2010 armed with the knowledge of the things I can't control will help me not go insane when they (inevitably will) occur.

All in all, it doesn't look that bad. Ringo and I have a LOT of strengths and opportunities that will serve us well in the coming year, especially if I work hard to take full advantage of every strength and opportunity on that list, and all those that I didn't even know were on the list as well. Our weaknesses and threats are many, but a large number of them are in my control and I have confidence that, with hard work, they can minimized or even turned into strengths and opportunities.

----

From this SWOT analysis, along with my goals that I outlined a week or so ago here, I think these are some pretty big but doable goals for January:

January 2010
- Get back in the saddle
- start learning Intermediate test
- start jumping again
- feel confident jumping 3'6" on any given day
- whip my own ass into gear
- resolve bitting issue for sj and xc
- kick my own position, on flat and over fences, into gear
- get out cross country schooling
- sort out living arrangements
- sort out work arrangements


Bring it on!

And, to finish... a totally unrelated photograph!

(Dually and I at NAYRC in 2007, looking very serious getting ready to head up to dressage)

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