A Golfer's Mindset in Goal Setting - How to Prepare for the "Next Shot" - Youth on Course

A Golfer’s Mindset in Goal Setting – How to Prepare for the “Next Shot”

As we start the New Year, it seems like everyone is talking about making resolutions and setting intentions.

While these resolutions and intentions vary from person to person, the end result we’re all hoping for is self improvement or a future success. Some resolutions take us far out of our comfort zones and require dedicated time and effort, such as running a marathon, learning a language, or getting into a good college and figuring out how to pay for it. These are great resolutions to make, as long as we keep them in perspective and don’t get overwhelmed as we work toward the end game. 

We also can make smaller-sized goals, like improving our diets, exercising more, or getting organized. But the truth is, regardless of the resolution, as humans, we’re bound to have “off” days and sometimes break those resolutions. The problem with this reality is that if we have too many “off days” chances are we’ll forget our resolutions altogether.

Both large and small goals can be accomplished when they’re approached from the right mindset. 

1.) We become better golfers shot by shot.

Golfers know the secret to accomplishing goals. The good news is, this magical mindset is attainable, and as golfers, we already have it. It simply involves us breaking down large goals into smaller steps, and proceeding with persistence and dedication, knowing that each small step gets us closer to success. This is actually what we do on the course. We become better golfers shot by shot. In doing this, we actually are making a series of short-term goals each time we practice or play. But the truth is, we probably don’t even realize that we’re setting mini-goals.

2.) We know how to adjust expectations and plan accordingly.

Goal setting happens each time we choose a club and prepare to hit. We assess the situation and address the ball based on how far we are from the hole and what obstacles are in our way. While yes, our goal is always to make it to the green with the least amount of strokes, we adjust each shot based on the ball’s lie. Each shot impacts the next, there’s no getting around it. So, as we try to accomplish our long-term goal of playing a great round or improving our games, we continually adjust our plan of attack. Sometimes that means laying up a ball instead of going for the green. Other times it means just getting out of the sand or out from under a tree, while other situations have us giving it our all. 

The good and bad news is that this cycle continues as long as we golf. We’ll truly never completely “get” the game, and therefore need to continually make adjustments based on our performance from day to day. But that’s okay, because we golfers are resilient. We know that our short-term goals lead to long-term success, and teach us valuable lessons along the way.  We learn to roll with the punches, shake off the bad shots, move on, and hit again. And as we all know, sometimes we have a lot of bad shots… in a row.  At times, we even consider throwing in the towel and never playing again. But then we hit a great shot and we’re back in the game again. That’s golf.

3.) Our only choice is to focus on the next shot.

It’s no secret that anything can happen on the course – regardless of how long we’ve been playing or what our handicaps are. We’ll have beautiful drives and sink 20-foot putts, and then we’ll hit our ball in the water three times on one hole. And as it turns out, life is just as unpredictable as golf. While we work towards our life goals, we’re going to have successes and failures, triumphs and disappointments. There’s no getting around the ups and downs, in golf or life. But, if we handle our golf and life goals one at a time, and focus on each moment, we won’t get overwhelmed and quit for fear of failure. Instead, we’ll forge ahead – regardless of how things go – knowing that the bad shots are over and done, never to be played again. Our only choice is to focus on the next shot. That’s how we get through golf, and it’s how we get through life – moving forward, knowing we’ve always got another shot waiting for us. 

As we begin this 12 month “round,” may your drives be straight, goals be clear, and may you always remember that whatever happens, there’s always another shot waiting for you down the fairway of life.