I was reading the other day about successful entrepreneurs and I came across a very interesting fact that has been impressed on my mind over the past several days. Did you know only 3% of the population set goals and actually make note of them?! This number seemed astonishingly low and has caused me to reflect on my own life, as well as how others choose to live theirs.

In today’s technologically savvy world, we are most definitely the “now generation”. This attitude may not be a detriment when it comes to health care and beating a life threatening disease, but is quite often more hindrance and less help. In life, and especially in golf, this desire for instant gratification is usually just that – gratification lasting only an instant. That gratification soon fades and we are left with nothing more than a memory. That memory is often the downfall of our well being, as we deceive ourselves and believe the lie that the issue is solved. Yet, in reality, all we have done is masked the true problem and lied to ourselves, in preparation to lie to others, in an attempt to have everyone believe that there truly is nothing wrong. (Similar to asking someone with a severe limp what happened to their leg and them adamantly responding, defensively no less, that nothing is wrong).

I am sure I am not the first instructor who has come across a student who was blessed to have all the stars align when attempting to hit a challenging shot and then miraculously pull it off. That one (out of a billion) shot, if the person is unable to let go of it, has sealed their golfing fate. Since hitting that one shot, they are sure that nothing is really wrong with their game and all they need is a little “tweaking”. Then, when trying to explain that aiming 50 yards right and hitting a massive pull-slice may not be the most effective way to play the game, they will forever remind me of the one time that it worked perfectly.

As an instructor, I have three options at this point, 1:  I can give up, walk away, and refund the student. 2: I can argue with the student for the entire lesson trying to prove my point, or 3: I can come along side them in a manner that will assist them the most, given their predisposed belief of what successful golf looks likes to them…

After my recent readings, I believe that the main issue with these types of students is that they lack long-term goals and a method to reach them. The student decides to cling to the memory of the one good shot, and forget about the other 157 mostly, poor shots they hit during the remainder of the round. This lack of ability to focus on a long term goal causes them to remain at the same level, regardless of practice, with minimal increasing success.

As a golf instructor/educator, we not only need to have goals for ourselves and teaching abilities, but must also assist students in defining and achieving their own goals. It is important to make goals that are not only achievable, but vary in length and build upon each other. There are mental (psychological), physical, competitive, and personal goals. It is important to have a combination of these types of goals, as they help provide structure to your overall success and are often intertwined with one another.

Examples of mental goals include:

  1. Improvement in course management skills.
  2. Committing to a pre-shot routine.
  3. Using fear as motivation to succeed.

Examples of competitive goals:

  1. Qualify for my varsity high school team.
  2. Break 80 in a tournament.
  3. Win an amateur/professional event.

Examples of physical goals:

  1. Improve flexibility
  2. Strengthen abs and core muscles
  3. Finish balanced with your weight stacked on your front foot.

Examples of personal goals:

  1. Hit all 18 greens in regulation.
  2. Play a tournament round without a three-putt.
  3. Enjoy playing regardless of the outcome.

Examples of goals for an instructor could be:

  1. Improve golf knowledge and delivery skills. (short and long term)
  2. Gain 2 new students per month. (short term)
  3. Gain 25 new students this year(long term)

As Jim Rohn states, “the major reason for setting a goal is for what it makes of you to accomplish it. What it makes of you will always be a far greater value than what you get.”  Goals will assist in defining a desired outcome and establishing a path to obtain that specific outcome. The true benefit of creating goals, however, is that they will help in creating a successful life that is truly defined by yourself and no one else. Take it from a man with many failed goals and a few successful ones – “If you want to live a happy life [and golf career], tie it to a goal, not to people [instructors] or things” –Einstein.