If you want your game to reach the next level, you need to set strong goals. Setting goals does many things, including clarifying specifically what you want to accomplish and the type of actions you need to take to reach your goal. At the beginning of each season, I encourage my students to create a goal that has a very specific end result, like lowering one’s handicap. Such so-called “outcome goals” need to be created with the following steps in mind:
- They need to be specific and measurable: How will you know when you accomplished it?
- They should be time-sensitive: When will you accomplish this goal by?
- They should be challenging: It should be a goal that’s outside your current comfort zone.
- They should excite you: It’s a goal that will make you want to practice.
When setting goals, remember to push yourself. They should be hard to accomplish and will therefore help you raise your standard of performance.Weak goals on the other hand only produce weak results. Once you’ve set your goal (for example, “to be a scratch golfer”), the next step is to set a time frame in which you can accomplish it.
Divide your goals into three ranges:
long-term (three years or more middle (one to three years) and short term (under a year).
Start with your ultimate long-term goal, then break it down into a couple short-term goals. Once you’ve done that, you’ll know what steps you need to take to arrive at your end goal. Setting short-term goals will boost your confidence because you’ve formulated a realistic plan of action.
Consider this imaginary situation: A junior’s ultimate goal is to play on one of the pro Tours. From there, she must move backwards on a timeline, to take her ultimate goal and break it down into bite-sized pieces.
Here’s an example.
Ultimate Goal: to win a major championship Granted, that’s a very high goal. But that’s okay. Remember, we want to set challenging goals. The next thing you should chart is your current level. Be honest. In my scenario, the golfer is a junior who’s a 5 handicap. She’s good, but not elite…yet.
From a 5-handicap golfer to a major winner If your only goal as a 5-handicapper is to win a major championship, you’ll easily get frustrated and disillusioned. In fact, you’d be so far away from accomplishing it, that you’d soon lose motivation. The purpose of this timeline exercise is
to know what you need to do now in order to reach your long term goal. Filling in the timeline creates smaller, more realistic goals as you advance toward your ultimate goal. The rest of the timeline exercise is to fill in the measurable goals that will lead to the highest outcome goal. These are progressively more difficult accomplishments in the order that they would happen. I’ve filled in the rest of the timeline below to illustrate.
- 5 handicap
- Scratch handicap
- College player
- Top amateur Win a professional mini-Tour event
- Qualify for the PGA Tour
- Contend in a PGA Tour event
- Win a PGA Tour event
- Contend in a major championship
- And finally…win a major championship