Talk to any top sports psychologist or performance coach and they will point out the benefits of setting goals and if you look at the most successful people in any field, they will tell you how it helped guide them to success. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg certainly believes in this method and is renowned for his goal setting
“I think the key is to be realistic with goals. The sense of failure can be a downer, diminishing rather than enhancing your sense of self-worth. Push yourself just that bit further than you think you can possibly be stretched, but don’t look to a goal to ‘reinvent’ yourself, necessarily – because just like massive crash-diet weight loss programmes, they can be doomed to failure and recidivism.
Whether in business or sport a clear goal keeps you motivated and focused on the things you want to achieve but lets be honest, how many of us have set golf goals for this year?
Now it may not be as straight forward as it sounds because as Zuckerberg suggests your goals need to be realistic enough that with hard work you can achieve but not too out of reach that you have no chance. There is no point setting a goal of getting from 28 handicap to scratch in 3 weeks! (Maybe 6 weeks with lessons from me!) However, maybe you want to finally get to single figures, win The Captains Final or to break 100 for the first time.
Whatever goals you set for yourself a great way of keeping on track is to set daily or weekly process goals. Listing the things you feel you need to do in order to reach your target. This can be setting a weekly plan such as commiting to a driving range session twice per week or at least 1 golf lesson every month.
Normally I would recommend keeping your goals to yourself but I’m going to be brave (or foolish) and share with you my goals for this season along with how I plan to achieve them. I’ll let you decide how realistic they might be!
1 To win a PGA event
2 To qualify for The British Open
3 To stay injury free
Since turning professional I have always competed in PGA North Region events however, I spent the majority of 2015 unable to play due to a back injury. Now I have my injury a little more under control I have committed to play in several PGA North Region tournaments throughout 2016. I have not won a PGA event since The 2014 North Region Challenge at Rockcliffe Hall so it will be an interesting time to see how I play after having over 16 months away from competition. My second goal is to qualify for The Open Championship. I have entered regional qualifying at Fairhaven Golf Club where the top players will progress to the final qualifying stage, which would likely be at Hillside Golf Club. There are 4 final qualifying venues with the top 3 players from each site actually qualifying for The Open. So the chances of getting through are fairly slim however the way I see it, depending on the conditions level par would likely be good enough to progress from regional qualifying and then once in the 36 hole final Q stage a score of around 5 under par would possibly be good enough. So although it would be difficult I know it is possible and for me that’s what makes this a goal great, I will have to work very hard on my game to get it up to the standard I will need to progress but I also know this is achievable. My third goal of staying injury free could be the most difficult of all as I’ve struggled with a back injury for the last 3 years. Managing the injury will be the key along with my strength training programme making sure I can stay strong and flexible to support my spine with all the strain the golf swing creates on the body.
So In order for me to achieve my targets I have set weekly process goals which include
• Play 18 holes 3 times per week
• Strength training 3 times per week
• Enter 2 PGA tournaments per month
The great advantage of setting process goals are they keep you on track and motivated. If I keep to the plan and I get to the end of the year without winning a PGA event or qualifying for The Open then at least I’ll know that I did everything possible to achieve my goal! If I fall of the wagon and don’t stick to the plan well I will only have myself to blame!
Please feel free to share your goals and good luck with whatever you are working towards.