The Believable Achievable Goal

Ah January. The clean slate. I love it so much! Although, the last time I was this excited for the New Year it was 2020. So, there’s that. 

I’ve learned a lot about goal setting since I last wrote about it. (I suppose it’s been years ago by now.)

Auditing progress and celebrating wins are among the biggest growth areas and have really helped me achieve a more reliable upward trend towards my big goals. 

One of the goal setting trends that was popular a few years ago was the idea of a big wild dream that is seemingly out of reach. 

While I have absolutely used the strategy of dreaming big and have achieved goals I honestly couldn’t see a way to, I don’t actually use that as a practical day to day strategy. I frankly don’t think you can bring ideas to life that way. 

Momentum,Thin Slicing and Tracking are keys that have transformed wishes and dreams into neon bright reality. 

I would note I use routines, mindset and triggers as strategies a lot but, I think I’ll write about those another time.  

This brings me to The Northwood Farms Twelve Week Horsemanship Challenge which Beth and I, along with Kip and Colleen have been hosting for the last 13 years. 

Our original outline, which hasn’t changed btw, was born out of four main keys: 

  • An achievable goal that will create momentum
  • Small understandable action steps you (barring a black swan event) can for sure do
  • A deadline to begin and a deadline to end that enables accurate tracking
  • A celebration of wins along the timeline

So, The Horsemanship Challenge is: 

Choose One Horse. Commit to spending 40 horsemanship hours with that horse. Commit to riding that horse 30 times within the first 12 weeks in the year. 

After almost a decade and a half, tens of thousands of participants and almost as many success stories, I would say our Horsemanship Challenge has been sufficiently road tested.

This blog isn’t actually about the Horsemanship Challenge though. It’s about understanding WHY it works and the mechanics we can apply to just about any goal big or small. 

Let’s look at each piece. 


This is a big huge hack and a mountain I would be willing to die on for my own personal success preservation. 

The principle here is not new, of course. How many times have we heard: You can only eat an elephant one bite at a time. 

I would just tweak that idea a tiny bit to focus in on the overall strategy of creating momentum. 

Yes, we can only execute part of the goal (one bite) at a time, but the more important thing is:

The more bites we take, the more success we feel. The more automated the small action is, the more we relax into the process and feel confident in our success. 

The more momentum we have, the more that momentum has the fuel to multiply itself exponentially. 

So, the anatomy of an Achievable Believable goal is your sureness of your ability to compile no brainer actions to achieve it. 

Do you have the tools (or know where to get them), the education (or have a plan for learning), the time and the support you need? If yes, you’ve discovered an Achievable Believable goal. 

An easy example of A Believable Achievable Goal is: 
40 Hours 30 Rides 12 Weeks 1 Horse


These should generally be no brainer actions; ones you clearly understand and know for sure you can do. 

Some questions to help you:

Have you done these actions before? 

Can you clearly visualize where and when you’re going to do them? 

Do you already have the tools, time and support you need? 

An example would be spending 40 horsemanship hours with one horse: 

Do you have access to a horse? 

Do you have a place to spend time with it? 

Are you safe to spend time with it? 

Have you made arrangements to squeeze in time with this horse? 

Anatomy of Believable Achievable Goals


Again, this isn’t exactly a new concept. Most of the time this gets talked about in terms of accountability. And yes, this is an accounting of the small action steps. 

But, what exactly are the mechanics of accountability?

HOW we track the no brainer actions so they add up to the result we’re after:

Decide when you’ll start taking action and when you’ll achieve your Achievable Believable Goal.

Work out how many of these no brainer action steps you’ll need to average per week? 

Do you have a visible tracking system you will see everyday to “account for” the no brainer actions? 

An example is marking a wall calendar somewhere in your house you’ll see everyday. 

Mine is in my master bath. I put a gold star on days I ride and write down my horse’s name whenever I spend time with them. 

During the challenge, I mark down which ride it is and how many hours I spent. I personally measure my hours in 15 minute increments. 

So for instance, I might write: 

Novella 3/30 (with a gold star) and 12.25/40


Do you have a way to celebrate the weekly small wins of taking the no brainer actions? 

Celebrating Wins along the timeline is a Pro Tip for sure. 

I think it’s a major strategy error to wait until the finish line of The Achievable Believable Goal.  

Seeing small wins add up is a clutch hedge against momentum loss because it highlights your steady movement toward the goal. 

It’s funny because the no brainer action steps can get boring! This is a sign you’ve hit on the right ones. The antidote is tracking and celebrating small wins along the timeline.

An example is, during The Challenge, share your progress in the Northwood Farms Horsemanship Challenge Facebook Group. This provides an easy way to celebrate wins in a supportive and encouraging community. 


Momentum is a cruel mistress. It can turn on a dime and will not tolerate being taken for granted. 

No brainer action steps are easy to do, BUT they’re also so easy not to do. Don’t dismiss them.

Tracking wins is like adding wind to your back. Your confidence grows and forward becomes easier and easier. 

I think that’s enough on GOALS for this January. I would love to hear your thoughts, comments and learn about your personal experiences. Drop me a note!

HAPPY NEW YEAR and thanks for being awesome!

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  1. I agree with you here. I would like to add that tracking helps me get my momentum back when life throws curb balls. All I have to do is step back in.

    Love you are writing. Thank you for the Horsemanship challenge all these years. Great things happen every time!

  2. Thanks for unpacking the Horsemanship Winter Challenge goal strategy. I like the big calendar with gold stars idea!

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