I am a fool for early success.
Hard to blame myself since historically I easily find quick results. I’m a fast learner, and like a kid with a new toy, eager to show it to everyone.
The optimism of my newly found comfort (including an even back nine a week ago) was extinguished by the treachery of my mind, particularly the eternal struggle between reality and expectation.
Our (particularly my) expectations after concentrated effort are often too high for the world to catch up to. Call it idealism or ego, but our image is always diamonds from our grind, not more dirt. The score outweighs the practice in the same way a product outweighs its price. Earning money takes time and effort, while spending it takes only a swipe.
No matter how hard you work in your hours at the office, you probably get paid the same amount. Whether it’s one project or ten, the paycheck is the same. Sometimes the only way to earn more is to change companies or jobs.
In a lot of ways, I feel this when it comes to golf.
Some weeks I put in maximum effort, straining for hours only to get what feels like minimum wage on the weekends. Other weeks I slack off and the same check feels like I’m stealing from the register.
What we need to remember is that there is a balance (pun intended). Killing ourselves for a game only makes us regret the time we spend. And phoning in our efforts only reminds us that we can do better.
This past Saturday, I took a different approach. One that made sure the bruises were in good fun. My mantra was, “laugh and let go.”
Bad shot? Who cares, everyone hits them.
Missed putt? Most don’t go in anyway.
Second ball in the water? The first one was lonely.
There is a universal harshness to this game that doesn’t need your help. One that constantly bombards you with your inadequacies and pushes your patience. One that waggles its finger of fortune as if to remind us that you can never perfect this perfectly stupid sport. It speaks in parables and acts in vengeance. It bucks and thrashes the more you work it, egging on all contenders to do better than the last.
More than anything, it hates apathy. It wants you to care more than you should. It acts out whenever you pay it too little attention, as if to warn the only way to corral a tangled spirit is through pure grit, pain, and determination.
Don’t be fooled.
The lure of early success is only one way it loops us back in. A false promise of better times ahead.
I’ve been on this rollercoaster for years now. Testing and toiling in amatuer waters. I’ve challenged myself only to be absorbed in delusions of possibilities. I’m ready to get off now.
If golf is to be a sport I enjoy for a lifetime, then I have to give it less power.
The time, money, and mental energy I expend on improving would be better spent on a different pursuit for contentment. When golf is unenjoyable, that’s when I know I’m doing it wrong. It’s time to listen to that intuition.
My 90-Day Challenge is almost over. A couple more weekends to prove what I already knew: golf is difficult and my ability to sustain effort is directly dependent on results.
That’s not an unimportant lesson to reiterate. After all, we are reliant on positive feedback to encourage us to continue preferred behavior. In golf, our score is the most visible measurement of progress. After years of doing this, my last hope of not being in the same place again this time next year is Rotary Swing.
The program is so structurally different, I see no way of still playing the same way a year from now. So I decided after the 90-Day Challenge is over (which is a complete wash at this point), I will offer one final push before my online retirement. Inspired by a recent mailer from the founder himself, I’m going to call my challenge “R90X”.
Another 90 days, but this time with minimal effort. I’ve already hit dirt, so I just need to keep digging. Ya dig?
I burned out the first go-around, so this time I’m easing off the gas. I’m going to eat what I want, drink when I feel like it, and practice as little as I can get away with. At the end, though, I at least hope to have an honest review for you to see if the program is a good match. Ideally maximum progress with less effort. After all, isn’t that the point of this blog?