Striving for the impossible—that is, perfection—is one of the greatest causes of stress and underperformance. It occurs when an intense need to win makes it impossible for you to accept anything less.
Perfectionists mean well and try hard, but usually overthink, overanalyze, and are self-critical. They set the “bar of expectation” so high it almost always leads to a chain of events characterized by making a mistake, dwelling on it, feeling frustrated, and becoming disappointed because they’ve let themselves–and perhaps others—down.
Sound familiar? See if these 6 common habits of perfectionists describe you when you ride, train, and/or compete. Do you:
- Place unreasonably high demands on yourself?
- Make mistakes because your fear of underperforming makes you tense?
- Feel most motivated by ribbons, standings, spectators, or “beating” your opponents?
- Struggle to ride in the “present” because you are focused on (future) outcomes?
- Attempt to ride with perfect technique, which causes you to ride mechanically?
- Feel unable to let go of your mistakes or like you must make excuses for them?
The good news is, you CAN overcome perfectionism! In his fantastic and energized new book PRESSURE PROOF YOUR RIDING, sport psychology expert and international riding coach Daniel Stewart gives you these tips for changing your perfectionist habits, loving riding more, and riding better because of it:
- Set goals focused on how you’ll perform rather than how you’ll finish.
- Learn from your mistakes: They are learning opportunities not missed opportunities.
- Focus on the solution to a problem instead of a problem itself.
- Focus on yourself, not on others, whether lesson mates, opponents, or spectators.
- Stay in the present moment: Avoid thinking about past mistakes or future standings.
For loads of clearly defined, individual steps to mental and physical success in the saddle, including ways to strengthen mental imagery, goal-setting tools, stress management techniques, keys to sensory, short-term, and long-term memory, and much much more, check out PRESSURE PROOF YOUR RIDING, by Daniel Stewart, available now at the TSB online bookstore.
“I truly believe that, regardless of your understanding of sport psychology, Pressure Proof Your Riding is an essential read.”
–Kevin Price, CEO US Pony Club
“Daniel’s enthusiasm is infectious, and his attitude toward emotional challenges makes having nerves and insecurities seem so normal— and so manageable.”
–Leslie Threlkeld, Editor, Eventing USA