Big moments and baggage

goals handler skills mental skills Apr 25, 2023

Lately, several of my 1:1 coaching calls have been about "big moments." Big moments or big events tend to come with a LOT of emotional baggage and added pressure. Examples include sitting at 19 (IYKYK), national events and specialties, the first trial after a long rehab, and even the most beautiful HIT ribbons from a particular club.

I feel each of these personally, and my client stories tell me I'm not alone. And as the moment nears, handlers get all sorts of nuts - suddenly buying into superstitions, fretting that every mention of the outcome could be a jinx, and other out-of-the-ordinary behavior. And the weirder our behavior gets, the more that goal stays out of reach.

Since you're on my newsletter list, you may already know what I'm going to say ... these are all outcomes. The title, the ribbon, the Q, and even the post-rehab run all shift our focus to the end of the day and to the result. And by now, we all know that our process goals suffer when we focus on the outcome.

If this isn't challenging enough, big moments often include "other people." Breeders, friends, frenemies, and even judges can all add to the pressure of the moment and derail us from doing what we know we need to - and can - do.

Look, we WANT our goals - badly - and I want you to go after them with everything you have! But I remind handlers that you have to do the same things that got you to this point to achieve that last piece of the goal. It's the boring answer, but it's true. So many of our big dreams are the metaphorical tape at the end of the marathon, so I'm saying that you do the same things that got you to mile 10, 20, etc.

Easier said than done - I get it. Just recently, at my specialty, I, too, felt the pull of the big ribbon! For me, that pull is a warning bell, a signal that I am focused on the outcome and must revisit my process goals and mantras. I've taken what was once a trigger to make me nervous and reframed it into a handling reminder to get present.

Often, you see big moments getting closer and have some warning. A MACH or specialty doesn't just sneak up on you - ha. That's both good news and bad. It's good because we have time to plan, but it's bad because we can allow ourselves to spiral for a looooong time! In these moments, I reach for a Sharpie and some cardstock, start mapping out my process goals, mantras, and reminders, and start visualizing. In other words, I go back to basics - the tools I know work for me time and time again.

I was in an online class yesterday, and Tony Robbins asked, "What's the difference between fear and faith?" The short answer is that both are created from your imagination. We can either catastrophize and imagine it all going horribly wrong, or we can have faith in our skills and experience to allow it to go perfectly (or imperfectly) right.

So if you're starting to get anxious about a big moment, know you have control. Reach for your tools and decide how you will use your imagination while holding fast to the present moment. Have faith in your abilities, skills, and tools, and do the things that got you this far. You've got this!

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