Setting goals is nothing new in this little corner of the internet. New year, new season; it’s all very exciting. Starting on a clean slate always feels good, and the upcoming possibilities are endless. Will my winter practice pay dividends? Is this the season I set a new personal best? Maybe I’ll finally get a hole-in-one? We’re on the first tee of the season and whether we make the most of it or not is up to us.
Like the past couple of years, my new approach to goals is to stay mindset-focused with things that are easy to keep at the forefront of my mind. Perhaps this approach isn’t as measurable when it’s time to reflect on the season and determine if I reached my goals or not. Still, I believe that things generally fall into place when you maintain a healthy mindset and perspective. So here we go.
We can only control ourselves — our actions and reactions. So why let the painfully slow pre-shot routine of the guy you got paired with start bothering you even if you think it’s ridiculous? Or let yourself believe the universe is turning against you when you get an unfavourable bounce. An attempt to control anything beyond ourselves is to lose control of ourselves.
Keep it simple.
It’s easy to forget how simple golf really is; get the ball in the hole in the fewest number of strokes possible. Some days we’ll be better at it than others, but our irrational fears and insecurities are the only things that complicate matters. On those days when it starts to feel like a grind, I’m just going to hit the reset button. All I’m trying to do is get a ball closer to a hole and, eventually, into that hole. If I miss a putt, it’s not going to cause another ship to get stuck in the Suez Canal and impact world trade, so relax and keep it simple.
Stay in my own world.
Whether you watched Tiger play with his son, Charlie, at the PNC or not, there was something I noticed that we could all learn from. After the final round, Steve Sands asked Tiger about Charlie dealing with the pressure of playing on TV for the first time (not to mention Charlie’s partner being the actual GOAT). Tiger did not acknowledge or even repeat the word ‘pressure’ or that Charlie might feel it. He just said they focused on staying in “their world” as if they were at home playing golf together. It was as simple as that, and it certainly seemed to work for Charlie since he didn’t seem phased by the stage at all.
What other people think or expect of us doesn’t matter. It’s all just background noise, so there’s no value in letting it influence us.
This is a straightforward concept that has become increasingly difficult in the social media age. It’s easier than ever to be distracted and let our minds wander off to a place other than where it physically is. We’re all addicted to our devices, and I’ve been as guilty as anyone else at times, but I still hate it.
Becoming the father of twin boys (they are over 16 months old now) has been an incredible and eye-opening experience. To witness their untainted joy while they learn and discover the world around them is a breath of fresh air. I’m not perfect, but I’ve been trying to make a conscious effort to always be present with them. They don’t know the distractions that we do, and it’s fun to live in that world with them for parts of the day. They still don’t know what TV is, and they think our phones are just for taking silly selfies together and FaceTime with family. They should never feel like they’re second fiddle to a mindless Instagram scroll or Twitter take, or grow up to think that those things should take precedence over your present company.
Our ever-weakening grasp on the present moment happens on the golf course too. It has become too common to be distracted by that irrational urge that responding to text messages can’t wait until after the round. Or to give social media a quick scroll while waiting on the tee for a slow group ahead of you. These are just distractions that don’t enrich the game in any meaningful way, yet we’ve still become programmed to do it.
I’ve started to work towards being more present by first reducing the number of distractions available to me. I deleted the Facebook app from my phone over 6 months ago and haven’t looked back. I did the same thing with the Instagram app a couple months back, and I felt a sense of instant relief removing more clutter from my mind. In a way, I had started to feel like a prisoner to mindlessly scrolling and liking photos, which I hadn’t really noticed until I had kids and ran out of mental capacity to sort through it all. I’m not saying everything posted on social media is clutter or unnecessary, but it’s been eye-opening how easy and enjoyable it’s been to live without the majority of it. I have kept the Twitter app on my phone to try to stay somewhat plugged in to the world of golf, but I am trying to reduce my time spent there as well.
The point is, I want to regain a firmer grasp of the present moment and my present company to get more out of life and set a better example for my kids, including on the golf course. I want to enjoy my surroundings and play the game with fewer distractions, just like I did when I was a kid. I’m not saying this is a magic bullet to lower scores and a better life, but it certainly can’t hurt to have a less cluttered and distracted mind.
Well, that’s it. Those are the goals. Maybe I’m on to something, or perhaps I’m mental. Either way, I’m looking forward to another great year, and I wish the same for you.