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Making Better New Year’s Resolutions for Golf

Have you ever made a New Year’s Resolution?  Of course, everyone has.  I try to make resolutions every year.  Have you ever failed at your resolution before February?  Don’t worry, I have too.  Depending on the researcher you choose, 80-88% of New Year’s resolutions fail each year.  Let’s choose to be in the 10-12%.

Resolutions fail for a couple reasons.  The key is to not fall victim to the same mistakes everyone else makes.  I help students every semester focus on the right goals because setting a good goal can improve success chances.  Creating mastery goals with incremental steps will improve the likelihood of success.

New Year’s resolutions fail because they are result based goals.  Result goals focus on what the end will look like.  Resolutions about weight loss, quitting smoking, or getting healthy are great examples.  They look at the end result.  Desiring those ends aren’t inherently bad, but without more, those resolutions fail the vast majority of the time.

Mastery goals are significantly better.  Mastery focuses on performing a movement or task extremely well.  For learning, I could set the goal to understand and be able to recite areas of law.  Someone who wants to lose weight could set a mastery goal to only eat 1,600 calories each day or a specific calorie goal for each meal.  In the end, weight loss will occur but the reason is the resolution is based on an action each day.

This year, make a mastery golf resolution.  Everyone wants a lower score.  I aspire to be a single-digit handicap.  For many years, I said I would practice more and get there, but I never did.  I made the same golf mistakes.  All my goals now focus on what I will do each week and movements I want to master.  I resolve to work my plan as well as possible.  My off-season focus is exercise while also making swings each week.  So far, I am working on my game much more than before.  However, I still don’t get all the days in each week.  It is difficult to get through 4-5 days of work each week.

The second key is to make small incremental changes.  Trying to change everything at once makes failure likely.  Individuals trying to run a marathon start with significantly shorter distances.  No one starts with 26 miles.  Start with running one mile and work up to 26.

Golf is the same way.  Trying to make 4 swing changes at once won’t happen.  Work on 1 change throughout your set.  Be very specific, like changing the swing plane.  I focused on nothing but weight shift during the first part of the summer.  After about a month, I worked on swing plane.  My focus is limited to ensure the changes have lasting affects.  Slow incremental changes can have the biggest impact on long-term scores.

Now is the time to set the resolutions for the upcoming year.  My resolution is to follow my weekly plan I set out for the offseason.  Small changes will hopefully setup for a great beginning to the spring season.  Enjoy the holiday!