How to motivate yourself during Covid-19

By Annette Paterakis

We all face a dip in motivation sometimes, but in these exceptional times, staying motivated to train can be extra challenging. Just like anything else, creating sustainable and intrinsic motivation is trainable. So here are five steps to get you back on track.

1. Rest

‘How is rest going to motivate me to work harder’ you may wonder? Equestrians are incredibly hard working. Many of my clients haven’t had a day off, proper weekend or holiday in weeks, months or even years. Working non-stop can, over time, create a lack of motivation not out of laziness, but from being overworked. If you are, like myself a doer and you haven’t taken time to take a proper step back to rest and reflect in a long time, than this is the first and most important step for you. In case you have not done much lately, you may move onto the next step.

2. Get inspired

Now that your energy is restored, it is time to get inspired and light that fire inside you. I suggest you find a comfortable spot where you wont get distracted or interrupted for this exercise. Take a deep breath, close your eyes and go back to the first time you fell in love with horses. Where were you? How old were you? What was it that made you feel excited, happy, calm and inspired? Was it the magical connection you felt with a pony or horse? Perhaps it was looking after another being that filled you up with joy or maybe it was that incredible feeling of teamwork and partnership while riding? Whatever it was, step into that moment as if you are there again. Feel that lightness and joy again. Imagine your hand moving over the horse’s head or neck feeling their soft, warm fur. See the kindness and trust in their eyes and feel the thrill of becoming one.

Now let go of the past and step into the future. Pick one big dream or goal (related to horses, riding or competing or anything you’d like to feel motivated about) that you would love to accomplish. Now imagine yourself having accomplished your dream. Where are you? How do you feel? How can others see that you have reached your big goal? Perhaps you are walking through your dream barn that is finally yours. Maybe you see yourself at the Olympic games, wearing your nation’s colors, waving to the audience during the opening ceremony. Or maybe you see yourself on the podium of that beautiful show you have always loved to show at. Whatever it is, step into the moment and imagine yourself being there. Feel the sun on your face, smell the barn, see the audience. Most importantly, feel the incredible feelings of excitement and gratitude for having achieved your lifelong goal. Take as long or short as you like to visualize this moment and know that the more often you revisit this image, the more you imprint it into your nervous system.


“A small act of selfless giving can provide enough energy and motivation to keep going until your next celebration.”

3. Focus on improvement

Now let’s focus back into the present moment. In order for you to achieve your big goals, you need to make a plan and you will want to list all the things you need to improve upon to get there. Work on listing five to ten things right now that you would like to improve. For example:

  1. Keep my horse straight over the jumps
  2. Make sure my horse is responsive to my aids
  3. Keep my upper body balanced over the jumps
  4. Stay focused on my horse when riding
  5. Improve my ability to see a distance to a jump from 60% to 80% of the time

This list is ever evolving, but once you have come up with a list, you can pick two to maximum three items you want to work on. Ideally, things that would make the biggest difference to your overall riding or to increase your chances of riding a clear round.

Per item you picked to work on, list at least three exercises or actions you can take to improve this process-based goal. Finally, take out your calendar or phone out and plan in when you will take this action. This final step is crucial because unless you plan it in, it usually doesn’t get done and it remains a wish instead of a plan to improve.

For inspiration, learn from the best. Read their books, watch their YouTube video’s, check outmy online training program Master Your Mind or learn from a Masterclass on

Fall in love with the process of growth and improvement! Once you step into the growth mindset and get obsessed with learning and becoming a better rider every day, no setback will ever bring your motivation down again.

4. Celebrate

I can’t emphasize the importance of celebrating (big or small) wins enough. It’s easy to finally hit a target or reach a goal and immediately set your next one. However, if we don’t celebrate those wins, over time we might start to question our hard work. Looking at the process goals above for example, take time to acknowledge your improvement once you have accomplished your goals. Celebration ideas; plan a virtual happy hour with your friends, take an afternoon to do something different and fun or call a friend to share your accomplishments.

5. Help others

Finally, a great way to feel fulfilled in life is to give back. In sports, athletes need to be very focused on themselves, choosing progress and time spend in the saddle and at the shows above family meals, social events, concerts, going out to party and much more. They need to make these choices in order to get better every day. Over time, all this focus on one self can become a habit and perhaps even a burden. Especially in times like these, helping others helps to put things in perspective and can be very fulfilling. Think about how you too can help someone in or out of the sport, doing something without needing anything in return. A small act of selfless giving can provide enough energy and motivation to keep going until your next celebration.