Now that the New Year is underway, I’m sure that you have at least a few goals to better your life and make it a successful year.
How well did you do with your goals last year? Did you achieve most of them, or do you not even remember what they were? Whether your goals are big or small, you increase your chances of achieving them with an effective goal setting system and effective practice plan for golf.
An Effective Goal Setting System
“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”
– James Clear, Author of “Atomic Habits
Simply listing what you’d like to achieve in 2020 is not enough. You need a practice plan for golf, or system, that helps you:
- Identify your purpose and why you want to achieve your goals (this will help you with motivation and prioritization)
- Understand the challenges and sacrifices you’ll be making
- Change behaviors and habits, so working towards those goals becomes automatic
- Measure your progress
- Improve focus efficiency, so you get things done
- Hold yourself accountable
In this week’s post, I’d like to explore a goal setting system (based on research and evidence) so you can put together a practice plan for golf that will help you make real change for the better, not just in your golf game, but in your life.
What Is Your Purpose For Setting Your Goals?
Time is limited and everything you do has an opportunity cost (you could always be doing something else), so having a good reason behind your goals and decisions is very important.
Determining a player’s purpose for playing golf and achieving the goals they tell me about, is the first step of my online mental game coaching program, for a good reason.
Why are your goals important to you? What is the purpose for pursuing them? Do you understand the level of work involved and the sacrifices you’ll be making? Your purpose is your underlying motivation for doing anything. The stronger and more clearly defined your purpose, the greater motivation you’ll have to succeed.
You want to get into better shape. Why?
You want to write a book. Why?
You want to play scratch golf. Why?
You want to win the Club Championship. Why?
Want to make more money. Why?
Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation
“When I was a young player, I had no visions in my head of fans and trophies. I basically sought 3 things from the game: To improve at it. To compete at it. To win at it.” – Jack Nicklaus
Doing something for respect and to make a lot of money, is called extrinsic motivation, i.e. you are motivated by external factors. Research suggests that extrinsic motivation doesn’t lead to as much success as intrinsic or “internal” motivation. As it implies, internal motivation is not driven by trophies, respect and money, but rather by following a sense of purpose, such as mastering your craft or self-development. In golf, this could be loving the process of getting better rather than what getting better brings to you.
Knowing your “Why” and reminding yourself of it will get deeper into your being and keep you pushing towards your goals, and override that little voice in your head that is telling you to put it off.
“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.” – Bruce Lee
We can’t control the future, all we can control is our actions in the present. Goals are a prediction of the future – there are variables involved and whether you achieve them is uncertain, no matter how much effort you put in. But as Bruce Lee suggests, success doesn’t come from achieving a goal, but rather from the work you put in to achieve it.
You can’t say with certainty what you will shoot on the golf course, however you can set the intention of sticking to your “performance process”, which maximizes your chances of success. In the same way, with any goal, we must break it down into actionable steps which keeps us doing what we can to make our end goal more likely.
Take Inventory and Break Goals Down
Starting on your long-term goal will seem daunting and directionless (and cause you to lose motivation), unless you break it down into smaller “Performance Goals”.
Statistical analysis is an important part of setting Performance Goals. What are your strengths and weaknesses in relation to your long-term goal? Find the key metrics that you know will push the needle more than others and prioritize that goal during your first “goal cycle”. Depending on your time constraints, decide on a reasonable goal (you could have a primary and secondary goal) for a 2-3 month commitment. E.g. improving fairways hit to 60% within 2 months. Now that you’ve broken your goal down and figured out your first “milestone”, what action can you take today or this week to get closer to achieving it?
“Every action you make is either a vote for or against the person you want to become” – James Clear
So you’ve figured out the what and the why, but how are you going to do it? You will need to figure out a practice plan for golf that includes your “process goals” to make sure you’re taking the best possible action every day to effect change and develop your skills. As the name suggests, process goals have nothing to do with the outcome and keep you continuously improving and changing behaviors every day. With the right process goals, you’ll keep passing those milestones along the way to your long-term goal. We need to clearly define these tasks and make them simple, actionable and measurable.
Another factor in how successful you are in achieving your goals is developing the habits and behaviors that will help bring your goals towards you daily. You need to get into “the habit of improvement”. Are there specific behaviors you’d like to change this year? If so, set a clear intention for the year and make 2020, the year of _____________. For me it’s the year of FOCUS.
Behaviors and habits are things that you do without thinking. Charles Duhigg, writes in his book “The Power Of Habit”, that 40% of what we do each day are as a result of our habits and behaviors.
Forming Good Habits
The beauty of forming good habits is that they work for you, meaning making strides towards your goals requires less and less effort. E.g. losing weight is a lot easier if you get into the habit of going to the gym and out of the habit of eating poorly.
What are some habits that can improve your golf game?
- Your practice Habits and having an effective practice plan for golf (use the exercises in the GSOM Practice System)
- Working out (Use the Fit For Golf System and get 20% off with GSOM20)
- Eating Better
- Sleeping Better
- Being prepared for your rounds (Use The GSOM Training Program)
- How you deal with frustration on course
- Having a better attitude
- Better focus during your shot routine
- Being more present in between shots
Have a daily routine
“In any sport, the path is the same. No matter how small or big the goal: You must commit and then start.” – Ryan Holiday, author of “Stillness is the key”
Start with daily routines that make it easy at first and build up over time. Set simple tasks (process goals) each day and you’ll notice they get easier and easier to execute. Remind yourself of your intention for the day first thing in the morning.
Process Goal Examples
If writing a coaching book is a goal, set yourself the goal of writing 250 words each day and then build it up to 500
If working out more regularly is a goal, start with 20 minutes in the gym and add 5 minutes each day.
If reading more books/education is a goal, start by reading 10 pages and add 5 pages each day.
If improving your focus is a goal, meditate for 5 mins per day for the first few days, then add 5 mins for the next few and build up to 20 mins per day.
Everyday we have the opportunity to develop positive habits that will help us achieve our long term goals. Once you develop good habits, it’s harder not to do them than it is to do it. Everyday, you’ll get a little better and aggregate those marginal gains into something much bigger.
Hold Yourself Accountable To Your Practice Plan For Golf
Only you will really know whether you’ve made the most of the day, or whether you’ve slacked off. Will you be proud of your effort towards your goals or will you regret how you’ve spent your time? Time is the most precious commodity, so to feel like you’re wasting it can affect how you feel about yourself. Be sure to set yourself a few simple promises every day and keep them. Be accountable!
A lot of your self-confidence comes from follow through and fulfillment of your own promises. If you keep letting yourself down, you won’t trust yourself to do anything and the system will break down.
A great way to motivate yourself and hold yourself accountable is with daily journaling. Even jotting down a few things that you accomplished can further motivate you to write more good things down each day. Measure what you did it each day to fulfill your promises and use it to notice what is creating the most improvement. Adjust your process goals if needed. Most of my students use a performance journal to set their practice plan for golf and then hold themselves accountable to it.
Thank you for taking the time to read some of my thoughts on goal setting. Most of the time, failure to improve is not about the goals themselves, but with the lack of an effective system that creates change. I hope that you can start implementing this system,or something similar, to make 2020 your best year yet.
This article is an excerpt from module 6 of my Ultimate Mental Game Training System
I’d like to thank James Clear of www.jamesclear.com for his collection of articles on goal setting which served as inspiration for this article.