2019 is now behind us and we are into a new decade. As we know, many people set new goals at the beginning of the year or make it a goal to MAKE goals in the coming year. It’s all about setting goals…but I’m not convinced you need to. It might sound odd for me to say that but I’m just not sure that goals need to be set in stone.
The problem I see with goal setting is that if you don’t follow through with the actions required to meet the goals then you might feel like you failed…who wants to deal with that? But in reality, obviously you found something else to do with your time that you felt was more important at that moment. Instead of hitting the gym, you ended up meeting a friend for coffee. Rather than work out, you caught up on a show you had wanted to watch. These choices are yours and who am I to say how you should spend your time.
No, I’ve made goals in my past. When our PGA of Canada Player Rankings first came out it was my goal to get inside the top 64 so I’d be guaranteed a spot in our National Championship. Once I accomplished that I made a new goal to try and reach the Top 10. Never made it. I came close though reaching 11th in late 2017 or 2018 (in the big picture the date doesn’t matter so I’m not going to check) but other things were happening in my life that was taking my focus off of competitive golf. My son was born in February of 2017 and time with him is more important than golf. But it’s easy to say that the goal I had helped me to reach 11th in the rankings and I wouldn’t argue with that. However, it wasn’t anything set in stone, I didn’t write it down, and I never felt forced to do anything I didn’t want to do (like practice in the rain). I did practice in the rain often but only because I find it enjoyable and I like improving at things.
When we set goals and focus too much on them we may miss other opportunities. You’re focusing too much on one thing that you can’t see what’s going on around you. Maybe you get too locked in to that one goal at the expense of your enjoyment. Plus, so many goals people make aren’t entirely up to them. For example, I often see junior golfers make a list of goals that looks like this:
- Finish Top 10 in Ontario Junior Championship
- Win 2 tournaments
- Finish top 20 in AJGA event
None of those are in their direct control as you can’t predict how the others will play. You could play better than average golf in the Ontario Junior and finish 20th. Is that a failure?
You could shoot 68 on the final day of an event losing by 1 to someone who shot 65. I say good playing to both and you’re likely happy about shooting 68 in the final round. But, you got beat…hats off to the other player.
What if you don’t play great in the AJGA event but you snuck into 18th? Is that a success?
Is there a better way?
I do think that many golfers put too much stock into their placing in a tournament rather than focusing on their own individual games and figuring out how to get better.
Maybe this player could make these goals instead:
- Hit 1.5 more Greens in Regulation on average
- Reduce 3 putt % from 10% to 5%.
- Learn how to stay more calm and positive during events
Ok, so now how are you going to do those three things?
- Practice with more purpose (keep score during range games) and choose better targets both off the tee to keep my ball in play and into greens.
- Spend 30min/day on lag putting, playing some games and using only one ball to help develop better feel. Keep score.
- Meditate for 15-20min/day. Check in each tee box to see if I’m calm or agitated.
But do I have to?
Ok, so I think this is better but again is it necessary? I really don’t know and I struggle with that because I hate not knowing something. I guess it just depends on the person and how they need to operate to achieve what they want in life. In golf I find that players I coach are fairly aware of what they are good at and what needs to be improved. At their level they really don’t need the exact details they just need to keep playing a lot of golf and practice with more focus and intensity. If they do that I’m certain that statistically they’d keep getting better. It’s really not that difficult. For Tour players it’s probably a good idea to know your stats relative to your peers so you can assess whether there is something you can be doing better…but hmmmm maybe Jordan Spieth should have kept doing what he was doing rather than make changes. Did those goals contribute to him dropping from #1 in the World Rankings to #43 today? Raise your hand if you thought Chez Reavie would ever be ranked higher than Jordan? (BTW, nice playing Chez).
Also, I’ve become a believer that the more you enjoy your sport the better you’ll get it. There is nothing better than playing and practicing because that’s how you love to spend your time. If its forced you’ll likely quit eventually or your relationships with those forcing you will suffer.
What’s my Goal?
For me, there is one simple goal: To Get Good at Golf. That one goal feeds what I think about on a daily basis. Is what I’m doing today moving me closer or farther from my goal? You’ll also see below that that one simple idea (fine, it’s a goal) sets in motion all the other thoughts:
The key for me though is that I’m not tied down to any of these thoughts or goals…they are fluid just like life.
I guess what I’m saying is that if you want to change or improve at something, no matter what it is, you can let that idea influence your daily habits by asking that one question: “Is what I’m doing moving me closer or further away from my ultimate goal?”. But in the end, it’s more about the journey than the destination anyways.
All the best in 2020!