Photo by Kim Perry

Sometimes it’s hard to have goals in the dog world. We put these plans together and set milestones for each dog only to have fate intervene. Injuries – ours or the dog’s – sideline us, a financial hiccup keeps us from entering, we lose our dog unexpectedly, or a myriad of other events pop up. I’ve heard handlers say they are afraid to want anything for fear of being disappointed.

I talk a LOT about goals in my coaching, specifically outcome and process goals and when to have each. Usually, I’m a broken record espousing process goals above all else. I stand by that, but today I want to focus on outcome goals, otherwise known as the ones that break your heart.

I don’t mean to be so depressing – LOL. I actually firmly and passionately believe we should all have results-based goals – it’s how we navigate! Without outcome goals (think titles, Qs, winning a class or show), what would we work toward? Without the clarity outcome goals provide, wouldn’t we be a bit rudderless? 

Set course

I think of outcome goals as the point on the horizon towards which I’m steering. Do I veer a little north or south on my way? Of course. But I know how to get back on track and most importantly, what I have to do in order to get there (aka process goals, but that’s a different blog!).

There are a couple things that inevitably pop up on the way to our goal and they come in the form of time and unforeseen circumstances.

Time can be maddening. We lay out our foolproof plan, execute against our process goals and still the goal isn’t achieved in our timeframe. This could be anything from getting that last Q at a particular trial to finishing your MACH before the qualifying period ends. When we set goals we have timeframes in mind and missing those moments can knock the wind out of us.

Injuries and other detours are just as emotionally painful. We miss trials, our girl doesn’t get pregnant, or we end up trading class time for rehab appointments. Stuff happens. And it happens in spite of best laid plans and perfect process goals.

So what to do?

There’s a teaching in the self help world which I will call, “hang on loosely.” It’s a little bit Buddhist in its non-attachment; a little bit manifesting in its faith; and it’s a little bit, “You can only do what you can do.”

To “hang on loosely” to your goals means that once you do the work of creating your outcome goal then setting supporting process goals, you let go of it. Yes, let go. Have faith. Detach. Trust.

This isn’t a haphazard process. You must invest the time to carefully construct your outcome goals and then create the process goals and milestones to achieve them. You commit to the PLAN (not the outcome goal), to the process with the faith that if you do the work, you will arrive at that point on the horizon.

You may not get there in the timeframe you predicted. You may have issues to overcome on your way. Your end result may even be better than you could have imagined! Hold on loosely.

All any of us can do is to set our course and execute to our plan. That’s it. There is so much that is not in our control, and besides, our dreams will not survive a death grip.

Set it and forget it. Give it over to the universe. Hold on loosely.