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The 4 Essential Stages Of Golf Goal Setting and Attainment

Achieving More With Your Golf Game  

tiger woods

Are you frustrated with your performance last year ? Did you fail to hit some of the performance standards you wanted to achieve last season? When you miss your seasonal target, it can feel like you have been kicked in the gut. Maybe you started to question your abilities as a golfer. Your motivation for next season has possibly dropped. You may wonder, “Why didn’t I achieve my goals?”

So much attention in sport is dedicated to setting goals but if there is such an emphasis on goals, why do so many athletes fail to reach their goals? There is one major reason why goals are unrealized: there is too much focus on goal setting and not enough on goal attainment. Goal setting is choosing what you want to achieve; goal attainment is actively working towards achieving something. Most golfers stop at choosing a goal, as if some magical force will push them in the direction of their goal. The only force that pushes you forward to achieving your goal is YOU. You need to do the work. Goal attainment requires that you climb the stairs, not just step on the escalator and go along for the ride.

The 4 Essential Stages Of Goal Attainment:

  1. Defining the goal- What exactly do you want to accomplish this season?
  1. Creating a plan – What are the specific steps needed to accomplish your goal?
  1. Acting on the plan – What will you do each training session and golf tournament to ensure you adhere to your plan?
  1. Evaluating your progress – Is you plan moving you in the direction of your goals? If not, what do you need to adjust so that you are moving closer to goals over the coming weeks and months ?

Taking a Vacation: How goal attainment works

Have you ever heard a person say, “I’m going to take a vacation”? No one would make plans for a vacation (schedule time for their trip, where to go, where to stay and what to do when you get there) and then not go on the vacation.

Taking a vacation requires choosing a destination and making the necessary plans. You need to make phone calls, arrange for days off from work or school, book a flight, create an itinerary, etc. Taking a vacation requires action, setting in motion the plans you have detailed. If you want to go on a vacation, you need to pack, pay for the flight get on the plane and check into the hotel. No one has ever vacationed in Hawaii by merely wishing they were there, it requires action.

But your vacation may have some unforeseen challenges: your plane might get delayed, unexpected storms may interfere with an outdoor event you were going to attend, you might become sick, etc. So you need to make some changes on the fly. These inconveniences are mostly minor. You wouldn’t give up on your trip because your plane was going to be an hour late. So, you see, in order to accomplish something, it requires that you do something.

Reaching your Golf Goals

Just like going on a vacation, you need to “GO” on your goals or act on those goals. If you think about it, the first two letters of “goal” are “go.” Golf goals may give you something to shoot for but you need to swing the club to sink the ball. Let’s take putting for example, before you putt, you eye the target, create a strategy or plan for your shot, act on the plan by striking the ball and if you miss, you re-evaluate and get ready for the next putt. Your goal should motivate you to act and to respond in a positive manner when things go awry. In order to attain your goals, you need to put the “I” in “action” and get to work.

European golfer Stephen Gallacher had a successful 2014 winning his third European Tour title season as he defended his Omega Dubai Desert Classic with a one stroke victory. Gallagher was also picked as one of the three wild-cards for Team Europe at the 2014 Ryder Cup. Unfortunately, Gallagher’s 2015 golf campaign paled in comparison as he dropped in the rankings from 35th to 121st. Gallagher missed the cut in all four majors in 2015 and was disappointed with how his season ended.

Gallagher faced some adversity with a change in coaching midseason but is re-evaluating his play so he can re-set his goals and re-energize his play.

GALLAGHER: “It was always going to be tough to follow up a year where you’d met all your goals. And then to have your coach leave you in the middle of the season wasn’t easy. I had to re-evaluate.

Gallagher knows that achieving your goals is a work in progress. Gallagher has re-assessed his plan, created  new goals for the 2016 season and is committed to improving his game.

GALLAGHER: “It’s really hard to play both tours, mentally and physically, and in hindsight that maybe killed me a little bit. The Ryder Cup was a lifetime ambition and you have to reassess and pick something (as a new goal). You’re trying to improve every year, so going to America was the right thing and I would do it again. It’s just I’d do it a bit more cleverly the next time.”

Gallagher hasn’t just set a goal for the 2016 season, he has defined a specific battle plan for the year and determined to carry out the details of his plan.

GALLAGHER: “I’m 41 years old and still learning about management of time. I’m going to just work on short game and putting for three or four weeks and have a total rest. I won’t start until Abu Dhabi in the middle of January. It’s been tough, but I’m going to come back stronger.

If you want to attain your goals this year, follow Stephen Gallagher’s lead: assess where your current performance status, define your goal, create your battle plan, then take action.

Mental Tool Shed: How to go for your goal.

Step #1: Define your goal – Choose 1-3 goals that have personal meaning for you for this season. Don’t merely adopt your coach’s or parent’s goal. Taking on goals from outside sources tend to de-motivate golfers. You want your goals to provide you with some inspiration, enthusiasm and personal satisfaction. Make sure your goals are specific, measurable and realistic for this season.

The following provides some distinction between non-effective and effective goals.

Non-Effective Goal: I want to move up the rankings.

Effective Goal: By the beginning of September, I want to be ranked in the top-ten.

Step #2: Create your plan – This plan gives you specific instructions on the steps you need to take to get to your final direction. This plan is not set in stone and should be amended if your circumstances change or the plan is not bringing you closer to your goal. Pick 3-4 aspects of your golf game that need improvement. Consider all aspects of your game: mental skills (confidence, anxiety management, controlling your emotions), technical skills (putting technique, stance, reading your shots better, more distance on your drives) and physical aspects (lower body strength, flexibility strengthening a previously injured body part). What will you do to improve these areas? Weight train three times per week? Work with a golf pro twice a week? Learn one new relaxation strategy and practice it 10 minutes. Be specific. Write it down. These are your directions for success.

Step #3: Take Action – Your plan is useless if you don’t work on it each day or at each week depending on your schedule. If you were building a house, you wouldn’t create a blueprint then just wing it. Remind yourself each training session what your focus will be for that session, “Today, I will work on setting my stance before each and every shot.” Action is everything. Your plan will only work if you work!

Step #4: Evaluate your progress – Is your plan working? Do you need to alter the plan due to an injury? Maybe you have nailed down your stance and need to improve a different technical skill. This is an important stage. Too many golfers think their plan isn’t working and abandon ship when all they need to do is adjust the sails to the new wind direction.

There is truth to the saying, “You need to believe to achieve.” But the there is power in the philosophy, “If you want to go higher, you need to perspire.” Are YOU ready to get to work?

To learn more about how you can improve your mental game performance,

take the free 4-minute mental game quiz.

Click here

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