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How to decide when to let go

Dear Rider,

I know you. On one hand, barrel racing is in your blood. You’ve probably never imagined doing anything else in your entire life. You live and breathe it, and heaven forbid you to even think about quitting. But this time is different, this is not just a tough season is it? 

This is a spark that has blown out, this is a gut feeling, exhaustion, a brick wall you can’t seem to break through.

I get it, I went through it too and I’m here to tell you that letting go was the best thing I ever did for my barrel racing career.

Ever since I was a little girl I saw myself as a professional rider, athlete, trainer, barrel racer… you name it. I was all in. I never thought the day would come that I would walk away. Tough days didn’t scare me, hard work didn’t scare me, losing didn’t scare me. But one day, a little voice said I need you to step away, completely. I shook it off and told myself don’t be crazy, you’re not a quitter, this is what you were born to do. But I never forgot that exact moment when that thought crossed my mind. Fast forward to a completely rough season, injuries, burnout, finances drained, this was not the way I wanted to live my life.  

I was forcing something and ignoring my gut feeling.

Now let me be clear, it’s very important to know when it’s your gut instincts guiding you vs. your mind sowing doubtful thoughts.

Here is how I tell the difference:

Mind vs. Heart:

  • Mind is very chatty and tries to connect all the dots for you. It also has A LOT of questions or doubts. This is your conscious mind taking your past experiences, and your surroundings, and making sense of it.
  • The heart, your soul, your gut instinct is very sure of itself. It doesn’t have to explain itself, it simply says “do this” “go this way”. Short, sweet, and to the point. This is your subconscious, connected to whatever higher power, God, the energy that is in connection to your path, your purpose, and your future. Listen to it.

I revisited that gut instinct and I asked what I should do. Again, time to step away, and you will paint….. WTF??? Now I know I’m crazy. But deep down I knew it was right, at least the stepping away part. So I made a plan. I was going to end on a good note, I was going to have everything gone by March of that year and I didn’t know what I was going to do next I just knew I had to listen and act. I did just that, had a very successful last race, and by March my horse, truck, trailer…everything but the saddle was gone. 

I wrote down what my perfect job would be and I tucked it away. A remarkable thing happened. The second weekend in March I got a call about a job opportunity that consisted of everything on my list and more! The kicker, they needed me to start right away and it was going to consist of me flying to different states every week. I would not have been able to accept this job offer if I still had horses or all of my stuff. Everything after that one decision of letting go naturally just fell into place.

What I learned from letting go

  • The quicker you listen and act on your gut instinct, the louder it gets and easier it is to understand. Also, the quicker miracles start to fall into place. 
  • In order for more blessings to come into your life, sometimes you have to let go of what you have. Dreams have seasons too. 
  • It may not look cool to “quit” something but you know what’s really not cool?! Not being able to pay your bills, or feed your horses because you’re too prideful and not willing to grow. 
  • People aren’t going to understand your decisions at first because it’s not their path.
  • There is a WHOLE world out there outside of Barrel Racing that can bring you joy, love, and passion. You were designed to experience life to the fullest and do more than race.
  • Barrel Racing is a sport with no age cap, you can always go back to it. 
  • Most importantly, What’s for you will not pass you by.

Now, I was fully committed to being done with horses. I didn’t think about them for years! Until I started painting. Turns out horses were the only thing I was good at painting and long story short, painting brought me back into the barrel racing world. 

It occurred to me one day while I was working at my booth at Futurity, the impact of that one decision and how this had been in the plan all along. It’s all come full circle. If I wouldn’t have stepped away I wouldn’t have known who I was without Barrel Racing… I wrote another blog post discussing how placing your identity in a moment can hurt your career called the Weight of Gold. 

Read Weight of Gold Here

The Result

Back into racing and working at the American Rodeo 2021

I can honestly say that I am mentally, physically stronger now and I have more contacts and confidence than I had before, all because I chose to listen to my gut and walk away. 

If you need to step away, do it! It’s your life and being afraid to let go is making a life decision that is fear-based and not faith-based. No life and growth can come of that mindset. If you feel like you need to stay in it, do it! Re-evaluate what success means to you and be ok with certain lifestyles for a while until you make it. My wish for you is that you learn to ignore the doubts and push through them but also listen to your gut and move when it says to. It will never lead you astray. 

Everything has a season, a purpose in your life and when it’s fulfilled its purpose, it moves on and allows for a greater season to take fourth.

That’s just it though, sometimes we block new opportunities because we hold onto the old ones for too long. Whether it be our pride or our fear we choose to ignore our gut feelings and continue to hold onto things that have already completed their season in our lives. 

I’m finding that nothing lasts forever, relationships, dreams, jobs, or great horses. They all have a season. Knowing this makes me stay in the present moment and cherish them a little more. How beautiful is it that we get the chance to experience many different forms of love throughout our entire life if we allow it, and if you’re really lucky you do get to have really long seasons.  

Cheers to seasons!

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