Do you know what you need to work on to improve your game this year or are you going to just keep doing the same thing you’ve always done?
This includes, for example, your daily routines, how you practise and how you prepare and play under tournament pressure.
Albert Einstein said it best: ‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.’
A new year usually ushers in a fresh look at vision, goals and a reflection on progress made. Without clarity around the desired destination, you will find yourself floundering, or as they say, ‘clutching at straws’.
Articulating and working towards a compelling vision is not a ‘nice to have’ in the world of high performance, it’s a vital ingredient for any athlete wanting to compete at the highest level.
My first engagement with an elite golfer usually starts with these three questions:
- What do you want?
- How badly do you want it?
- What sacrifices are you prepared to make for it?
Arnold Schwarzenegger was asked in a podcast interview about his success, among other things, as a weightlifter.
The interviewer alluded to the glint in Arnie’s eyes depicted in a dated photo of the young bodybuilder competing at a national event.
Schwarzenegger was unapologetic in attributing this confidence to the clear vision he had for his bodybuilding exploits. He wanted to be the best in the world. No one was going to stop him. He believed unwaveringly that he could be world No 1.
With this clear picture in mind, he did the hard yards in training and made the necessary sacrifices, whether they be dietary, getting up earlier or reducing social engagements, because he understood it was for a bigger picture, a greater good. It cost him everything but he knew every step forward was bringing him closer to his dream and vision.
Establishing a vision for your golf gives you a direction to move in, with specific milestones or goals to keep you on track as you monitor your progress.
Have you got a clear vision of what you want to accomplish this year on the golf course?
Here are a few guidelines to help you articulate a clear vision that will get you up in the morning when you don’t feel like it, to work on your game:
1. Start with the end in mind. What do you want to accomplish in golf and life? See yourself lifting the trophy or placing highly at event(s) dear to your heart. Imagine looking back at your career – what would be your highlights? Be specific.
2. Your vision must be yours. It can’t be what everyone else wants for you. What do you want? Where do you want to be in two, five and 10 years’ time?
3. You should be optimistically realistic. Dream by all means, but where are you currently in relation to where you want to be? Be honest with yourself. What will you need to do to close that gap?
4. Write out your vision and put it in a prominent place where you can see it on a daily basis. We all have days where we don’t feel like working. It is on these days you want to remind yourself of who you are and where you want to be.
5. Stick to your guns. Don’t chop and change your plan according to different circumstances. One or two bad tournaments shouldn’t curb your passion or momentum. Regroup and review, accepting and learning from the disappointing outcome and then get ‘back in the saddle’. Never let a stumble in the road be the end of the journey.
6. Make measurable goals with timelines so you can regularly track your progress. Where do you want to be the first quarter of 2022? What mini achievements would tell you that you are on track?
Most noteworthy accomplishments, including works of art like the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, started with a clear picture of the intended outcome. Michelangelo, iconic Italian painter and sculptor of the ceiling, said: ‘I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.’
An architect signs off plans of the designed house in the finest detail when the owners agree on the intended outcome; only then does the construction work start.
The principle in high-performance sport is the same. Start with the end in mind, working out what you are pursuing in as much detail as possible.
But remember, in the words of author and inspirational speaker, Simon Sinek: ‘While dreams of greatness are great, we must remember to appreciate the joy of the start.’
– Grant Flaum is a mental-game and life coach who has worked with professional golfers on the European, South African Sunshine and Big Easy Tours as well as with emerging amateurs. He is the mental conditioning coach for the Golf RSA women amateur golf squads. His expertise lies in helping golfers develop relaxed, concentrated mindsets and the necessary high-performance habits to play golf at an elite level. Contact him at [email protected] or @ignite_mental_coaching.
– This column first appeared in the February 2022 issue of Compleat Golfer magazine. Subscribe here!