I’ve failed! What’s next?

Let the offseason begin!

Although the golf season in Texas is generally year round, I wanted to take a step back to truly address my process.  Even if that’s just implementing one.

The reality is I’m terrible at being consistent in my practice.  I’m not sure if it’s a lack of genuine interest or deep-seated motivation, but the passion to be the best isn’t something I actively pursue.  What I’m slowly realizing is that’s okay.

If you check in on this blog to follow the pursuit of perfection and greatness, you’ll be terribly disappointed.  In fact, I think I’ve taken myself too seriously for too long.  This isn’t a place for inspiring competitive golfers or tips to improve your game.  And I don’t know what got in my head to think this should be a story about anything more than just an amateur golfer.

I’m slightly-above average (at best), and I think it’s time to celebrate that.

So 2021 is going to look different.

First of all, no more goals.  That seems pretty simple and straightforward, but in practice it’s really difficult.  It’s WAY easier to slap an arbitrary target on my intentions and blast off in that direction.  After years of taking this approach, it’s clear it’s not working for me.

The issues with my old, goal-oriented approach are multifaceted.  For one thing, goals are binary.  While that may be useful in certain situations, continually failing only counts as a fail and completely neglects any progress that may have been made.  If you’re driving to another town and run out of gas, do you call an Uber and head back home?

When I set a goal and don’t reach it, I’ve felt as though a tow truck hauled me back to my origin.  Every missed goal is a misstep that sends me back to the beginning.  Logically I know that’s not true, but it becomes cyclical torture to the spirit of my game.  Besides not being healthy for my mind or game, it deters consistent efforts knowing how likely it is I’ll fail.  Right up until another burst of motivation launches me into an unsustainable push, where I fall harder from higher.

Another concern with goals is how limiting they can be.  This goes hand-in-hand with being binary but is extremely detrimental to the learning process.  Imagine you’re in school again, only this time the grading system is strictly pass-fail.  To pass an assignment, you have to get 100%.  How stressed would you be knowing one wrong answer fails you?  How broad would your studying be?  Would you study anything outside of the exam?  Or would you only focus on answering the questions verbatim as your teacher presented?

Narrowing that focus not only discards valuable experimentation, it diminishes critical thinking and the personal satisfaction of discovery.  Limiting our own exploration creates a downward spiral of negative thinking, something I’ve been dealing with since the beginning.

In my research on learning to enjoy golf, I was introduced by one of my favorite authors, James Clear, to a piece of positive psychology called “broaden and build”.  Positive emotions help us open our perspective while encouraging us not only to expand our play but to build skills in that environment.  Having fun creates an upward spiral of accomplishment, where we don’t hold onto our shortcomings and grow in our development.  If you need proof, just watch a baby laughing while learning.  It won’t take long for them to get better.  (Or watch Mark Rober’s TEDx talk)

One final thought on setting goals is the “personal” impact.  Think about the goals you’ve set in your life, and which ones were decided entirely by you and your needs.  Why do you want rock hard abs or to earn a million dollars?

Whether we like it or not, a lot of our interests and aspirations are societally and socially driven.  That means popular or common ambitions are not adequately tailored to our own personal skills and perspectives.  All that means is pursuing something that isn’t aligned with where we are and what we’re capable of being.

Goals are useful, don’t get me wrong.  But I want to try something different.

Recently I’ve been drawn to personalities with superpower-like consistency.  Not in performance, but in process.  The unmistakable mark of drilling and repetitions that make individuals stand out.

Practice can transform average people into exceptional performers.

What kind of golfer would I look like if I didn’t care about the score and only cared about how I performed when doing drills?  What would it look like to take a few months off from the course and train my game from the inside out?  What if, for once in my life, I didn’t actually care where the ball went?  Would it transform my performance?  Would I come out better on the other side?

Well, that’s what I’m looking to do.

Instead of chasing a handicap or score, I’m going to pursue practice.  I’m going to revel in the ordinary and boring, embracing the mundane.  The only thing I’m going to champion is repetition.

For the next couple of months, I’m going to drill deep and repeat.  The only guidance I’ll receive will come from my subscription to The Rotary Swing.

Not only will this be a good window into the program, it will be a personal experiment like I’ve never undertaken.  Why is it like nothing else?  Well, because I’m not chasing anything.  Every week I’ll update you on my repetitions, how things feel, and that’s it.  I won’t have scores or strokes gained.  I won’t be going to the range for a while, so I won’t even be able to tell you how the balls are flying!

Maybe I’ll get better.  Maybe I’ll get worse!  Really there’s only one way to find out.

I’m also not setting a time frame because I want to give this an honest chance.  Time frames seem to activate my procrastination and only make me feel like the security guard in Austin Powers.  Instead I’d like to be the steamroller, unyielding in my purpose.

Like I said, I’m doing things different this time.

The only rule: make (at least) 100 correct repetitions per day.  Hardly a grind but will take some initial effort to build the daily habit.  The Rotary Swing system is beautifully built, in that you can stack drills.

Stacking is a great principle that helps you gauge your progress by failure.  You continue to add pieces until it starts to fall apart, indicating you need to step back and do more work.  The program is designed by process.  It’s incredibly unique and perfect for what I’m about to do!

No goals.  No time frame.

Let’s get to work!

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