It's twenty five minutes to midnight at the moment and since I am just starting to write you are likely to read this post on Thursday 15th January the earliest. It so happens that my mind likes the small hours of the morning to tell my fingers how best to tap the keyboard. I don't have to be up early tomorrow so I am letting this owl habit of mine control me.
Let's roll with it.
A question for you. What if you could write your own life..? Chapter by chapter, creating the past, the presence and the future born entirely out of your very own imagination? The more ideas you had, the more you would experience and gone though in your book...The more you dared to create in your mind, the more would indeed happen...So, if you could, would you? And if so, what would you write? What genre would it be? Who would want to buy it? What message would it have?
My this year's goals are an experiment with a Coelho-esque twist. I want to test if the universe really conspires in response to my purposeful actions. Just a little test, you know, why not? ;)
I thought that for a start I will just put my goals into words in a way that suggests they actually already happened...as if I was writing this not in January but in December 2015. Some say, picturing things as if they had already been achieved builds your confidence and belief that you can make stuff happen. Then there are others who say this might make you lazy as hell and not bothered about putting effort in since all is done...;)
I thought I would humour the former and just test how it would feel to think (and write) in reverse.
Let's really roll now.
Back in January I knew this year ought to see me finally making definite decisions about work. Although I have a wonderful emotional support from my boyfriend and my family, when it comes to the job with horses,ebeing able to sustain my livelihood, I am very much on my own. I mention it because this fact is a driving force behind everything that happen(ed) in 2015 and what motivated me to set certain goals and plan for certain things to happen.
Since I chose to walk my own direction in coaching career, I can't rely on tried and tested processes and follow pathways already prepared by others. That's all right with me.
So, do you want to know what goals I fulfilled in 2015? ;) Here they are...in no particular order...
- I finished the second draft of my book. As some of you know, this blog used to have many more posts which I removed a couple of years ago and started putting everything into a story...While converting my random thoughts into some form of a continuous storyline, I came to the conclusion that the book I really wanted to write was altogether different to what I had been creating. Fast forward to mid 2014, I wrote what can only be called a very bad first draft of a riding manual. On a good note, the content was finally exactly what I wanted to write. This year, I set aside 7 hours a week to work on making that first draft into a reasonably well structured piece.
The working title is boring, simply "Ride, Train and Teach with Aspire Equestrian Riding Academy". It will be a grand job to come up with a good one I reckon :-/ Maybe you can help me decide on one when the time comes :)
The outline follows the programmes as they exist in my "real" Aspire Academy and so contains the following sections: Start, Foundation, Development, Performance and BHS/Coach Training). I have included many of my awareness building exercises and imageries alike the amazingly popular post on Aspire blog about the "forward thinking hand" which was initially in the book but I wanted to see whether it was something more riders find useful. I also wanted to see if I could put things in words well enough for them not to be completely misconstrued. That post has had several thousands of views in the first 10 days. If all these readers bought my book I would be over the moon ;)
Each of the sections also has "...Meanwhile On The Blog" [working title] chapters which is where the blog posts ended up being, creating recollections of my own experiences, situations, people, horses, huge mistakes and small successes.
To sum up, the second draft is now on the second level of ridiculously messy and as such just about ready and bearably embarrassing to be "friends tested"...I am delusionally excited about publishing it ;) As per today I am still planning to self-publish but a crazy thought about conventional publishing entered my mind...
- I won the financial game and found sustainable model that allows me to make a decent living out of what I love doing.
This is probably my biggest achievement this year. I made some changes to my work logistics and introduced new courses in 2014 which led to a more predictable earnings throughout 2015.
Although I have always managed to survive on my freelancing, it's never been a lifestyle for the light-hearted. There were days with £5.30 on my bank account, snow outside the windows and no work for days (and no money to get to work...). There were days when after leaving house at 5am I was back at midnight to start at 5am again. I would hear people say "ohh this month is really hard, I am totally broke" and then spending £100 on their food shop. The definition of "broke" can be very different to different people indeed...;) There were many crazy situations that I will leave for the book but this little snippet of information might give you a better idea of why finally finding a sustainable business model for my coaching means so much to me.
- I quadrupled the audience on my coaching blog, helped many riders out there with their riding issues and made the blog worth monetizing.
Creating income from my coaching blog has been on my mind for a while but I have never liked the idea of charging the readers via membership site or similar. The online advertising possibilities are immense nowadays, however, and so my efforts this year were on creating a space where certain brands would want to come to. There is an overwhelming amount of websites and forums out there and it will be tricky to attract companies wanting to part with their media budgets but I had put a lot of effort into Aspire's blog content this year and I am confident is has a pretty well defined audience of horse wellness focused, improvement driven riders that many awesome brands might want to connect with.
Monetizing my coaching blog has one aim: create a budget for ongoing improvements in Aspire's services namely: securing better and better horses, facilities and number of places for many more riders as well as letting me invest in my own coaching education.
All the hard work on the Aspire blog paid off as I now have three fabulous brands purchasing advertorial and advertising spaces on the blog on regular basis not only brining me an additional income but also providing my readers with a valuable content in its own right!
- I found a lovely yard whose owner is interested in having me based on-site. The yard is in Greater London, has good facilities allowing outside horse owners to come to me for lessons as well as letting me take on horses for training. I am able to help with the existing livery business in return for livery for my own horse(s). It's close to my current London base which makes it possible for me to teach all my non-owners clients without wasting too much time on travel.
Quite in love with that goal ;) I have not really believed it would happen this year but you know, that universe being on one's side theory has something in it! Now I just need to find a couple of horses for myself to bring on and the 2016 should be the year when I finally go back to competing myself!
- I regularly practised filming exercises and describing them on camera in order to continue building Aspire Equestrian Video Library. I am starting to be able to put my ideas into concise and easy to understand concepts that make for a acceptable video tutorials.
Well, let me tell you, this goal was hard to work on and even harder to achieve. Talking to the camera used to paralyse me and made me forget everything I know. I'd filmed several tutorials in 2014, some for my online clients (for riders on Aspire Virtual programme) and a couple for my newsletter and slowly became able to remember that a horse is called a horse. I can now keep the flow of my thoughts without re-taking the scene 1000 times as well as gained some skill at structuring the video content so it's engaging and inspirational as well as educational.
- I helped many riders fall in love with equestrian sport that is ethical, horse wellness centred and focused on rider's skills.
This is very much an ongoing goal that governs all my other career plans and aims. If I ever fail at achieving this goal, all the others above are worthless. This year has been awesome and allowed me to be part of riding adventure of many wonderful people.
There are many trainers out there who want to train horses and give them a great future but if there is no increase in numbers of sympathetic, knowledgeable riders who will buy these horses, the hard work put into equine education will be wasted.
Every single person can learn the basics of a good seat. Sometimes it takes longer to get there but that's not the reason to skip the learning steps. This year I helped over 50 more riders to enjoy that learning process and that's what made this year very special indeed.
So there you go. These are my main career goals for 2015 in a fantasy world of "make believe" where I had already achieved them all. It was interesting to write them in this format and I really do recommend this mental exercise to anyone who finds their goals enormous and beyond reach.
I have a few aims connected to my "non-horsey life" and some of them I will share a little bit of as they happen :)
Until tomorrow :)
[It's nearly 2am now :-/ ]