Get Back on the Horse – The Road to Change
Each summer my brother and I rode a horse to show at the County Fair. One summer I got Jumper for my horse. His name wasn’t actually Jumper but that’s what I called him because he spooked easily and I fell off a lot. He learned that once I fell off he could run back to the barn and eat.
Soon Jumper started to rear on his hind legs and I toppled off the back. I was only 8-years-old so you can imagine how frightening it was. My dad, in his wisdom, always dusted me off and threw me back on that horse no matter how big my tears were. I begged him not to, but he wisely told me, “You have to get back on the horse.”
He was right. I would have always been terrified to ride a horse. But even worse, Jumper would have learned that every time he dumped his rider he got to go back to the barn and be done for the day.
There were a lot of lessons learned from that experience. Overcoming fear, persistence, determination but the one that I keep coming back to today is the road to change. When you are working on changing yourself for the better it can be a lot like trying to ride that horse. Everything starts out happy and you’re enjoying yourself but something happens that ends up dumping you on your backside.
What is your horse?
Are you trying to exercise every day? Keep a daily journal? Learn a new skill? Break a bad habit? Be a better parent?
We all have a horse that just keeps bucking us off. When you are face down in the dirt, looking at another failure, that is when you feel like quitting. What’s the point of trying if we are only going to fail? That’s when you have to dig deep, pick yourself up, and get back on the horse.
Every day is an opportunity to start fresh. Every day is the chance to change, one small step at a time.
Why were you on the horse?
It’s easy to become discouraged when you’ve landed in the dirt again. Remind yourself why you were there in the first place. When you try to change yourself you are trying to become better. A better parent, a better spouse, a better neighbor, whatever it may be.
Let’s use diet and exercise as an example. Many people set a goal to become healthier or lose weight. I did. I just got done with an 8-week health challenge. It bucked me off on my face in a muddy hole. I lost 1.5lbs in 8 weeks, which can pretty much be attributed to normal daily weight fluctuation. Yeah, that was failure, right there.
I was on that horse because I had let unhealthy habits sneak into my life. I may not have accomplished my goal but I remember why I made it. Just because I got bucked off this time doesn’t mean I’m not going to let that deter me from my goal to become healthy.
Try a different horse.
Jumper became a dangerous horse for any rider, let alone an 8-year-old child. My dad sold him and I began to ride a different horse. One that still challenged me, but wasn’t dangerous.
If you have a goal you are working towards and you’ve repeatedly fallen, maybe it’s time to try something different to accomplish it. I’ve done health challenges before and they worked great, but this time it didn’t. Circumstances are different now. I’m different now. I’m going to need something different to motivate me.
If your goal is to become more patient and counting to 10 isn’t working, it’s time to try a different horse. Memorize a short poem or scripture that you can recite in your head to calm down. Leave the room before you explode. I have a code word, ‘snapdragons’ that I say out loud when I’m getting impatient. I sound ridiculous but it usually changes the path that I’m on.
Making a worthwhile change takes time. Don’t let temporary failure keep you from accomplishing your goals. As much as we all love instant gratification, that isn’t how lasting change is achieved.
The important part is to keep trying. It is in the trying that we learn, grow, and become better.
Listen to dad.
The road to change is long, winding, and full of unforeseen pitfalls. Building a habit takes time. Be patient with yourself. Allow yourself room for mistakes. Listen to dad and get back on the horse. Once you do you’ll discover it was worth all that pain and effort.