Ever wonder why you don’t achieve what’s most important to you? If you aren’t making progress toward your goals it’s likely because 1) the goal is too vague or 2) isn’t consistent with a long-term vision, so the motivation to stick with it dries up. For example, someone might say “I want to enjoy life to the fullest!” or “I’m going to spend less money” or “I’m going to lose weight”. These goals are total garbage and they sound more like New Year’s Resolutions than goals!
According to research, only 8% of people succeed at achieving their New Year’s Resolution. That grim statistic makes perfect sense. Most resolutions sound like fluff and they aren’t backed by a long-term vision.
In this week’s blog, I’m going to show you a start-to-finish goal setting process for golfers. My advice on goal setting is backed by research, and I can say from years of experience that this process works!
Create Your Long-term Vision
First things first, you must begin your goal setting process with the end in mind. This concept was introduced to me in Steven Covey’s book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. What I am talking about, more specifically, is constructing your long-term vision. This step is the most critical part of goal setting, so don’t be tempted to skip over it!
Your long-term vision is you as a golfer in 10 years. Lululemon posted a great 3 minute video that explains how to construct your 10-year vision. To make this specific to your golf game, you should answer the following questions:
- How old are you in 10 years?
- Who are you with?
- What course are you playing?
- What will you shoot that day?
- What is your handicap?
- How often are you playing golf? How often are you practicing?
- What courses on your bucket list have you played?
- Are you playing golf competitively? At what level?
- How much are you enjoying golf when you’re playing?
- Whatever else is important to you as a golfer…
I like to build my 10-year vision as a moment in time. For example, my 10-year vision looks something like this:
I am 41 years old. Today I am playing golf with my 3 kids. It’s a beautiful, warm summer afternoon and we are having a blast together. I am playing, but it’s a relaxed round and I am not keeping score. I usually play a few holes with my kids twice a week. I play an additional 2-3 times a week during the season, which includes a round of speedgolf every Saturday morning before the first tee time. I practice once a week for a couple hours after my speedgolf round. I have reached scratch and my handicap is never higher than 3. I have competed in the Oregon Amateur and I did well, advancing through several rounds. Every year I play in at least one competitive tournament and every year I travel somewhere to play a course on my golf bucket list. I’ve played Pebble Beach and several top courses in the U.K., and I play at Bandon Dunes several times a year. When I play golf, I am focused on the present moment and the next shot – always. I’m not distracted by thoughts of the past or the future. I don’t swear and I don’t get angry when I hit a bad shot. Regardless of the circumstances of the day, I always have fun.
It’s best to let your ideas flow and just write freely. Write down anything that comes to mind. You can edit your vision and modify it later if you need to.
The next step is to benchmark yourself. How far along are you in reaching your 10-year vision? You can begin by breaking down your vision into various elements. In my vision above, the following elements are present: golf with kids, frequency of play, frequency of practice, Speedgolf, handicap, competitive golf, travel golf, and mental game. You should benchmark or grade yourself in the all of those elements.
How to benchmark: Get a piece of paper and write down all the elements of your vision and every aspect of golf that you think is important. Some ideas: mental game, focus, positivity, mindfulness, putting, chipping, pitching, bunkers, irons, ball striking, driving, accuracy, course management, creativity, decision making, etc.. Then write a number (1-10) next to each item.
Benchmarking honestly is critical to goal setting because it improves your self-awareness and will enable you to set relevant goals. You need to spend some time here in self reflection to critically assess where you are. Otherwise you may end up with inadequate, irrelevant, and uninspired goals.
Set SMART Goals
Once benchmarking is complete, you should be able to come up with several goals that you want to achieve in the next year. I think 5 goals is a good starting point, but you could do more or less depending on how difficult your goals will be and how much time you have to devote to golf next year.
Now, the long-term vision comes closer into view with the setting of intermediate-term goals. How will you make progress in the various elements of your long-term vision in the next year?
Each of your goals should follow the SMART criteria:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Relevant
T – Time-bound
Here’s an example: I take lessons twice a month, and practice twice a week (March-September).
The above goal is written in the present tense which is more powerful than saying “I want to” or “I will”. The goal is specific (take lessons & practice), measurable (it’s pretty easy to track this one – I either take lessons and practice or I don’t), attainable (I can commit to lessons 2x/month and practice 2x/week), relevant (consistent with my long-term vision and will help me make progress on my goal to get to scratch), and time-bound (start date set for March and committed to lessons and practice through September).
This is just one example, but every one of my goals must reflect my long-term vision. Other goals could include planning a trip to Pebble Beach in May or signing up to compete in the Oregon Mid-Am. Your goals should always be consistent with and bring you closer to your long-term vision.
Abraham Lincoln wisely stated that “A goal properly set is halfway reached.” If you set SMART goals that are consistent with your long-term vision, you will be much more likely to reach them.
Lastly, revisit your goals regularly. Read your long-term vision and your goals every morning. Seriously! You can’t just write this stuff down, file it away, and then go about doing everything you were doing before. Store it on your phone. Paste it on your bathroom mirror or stick it to your computer at work. You have to continually internalize your long-term vision and your goals to be successful.
Stay tuned, because next week I’ll be sharing with you all of my golf goals for 2016!