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 »  Home  »  Magazine Departments  »  Instruction  »  The SMART Way to Eat an Elephant
The SMART Way to Eat an Elephant
By Rich Molden | Published  02/11/2011 | Instruction | Unrated
The SMART Way to Eat an Elephant

Each year many of us make resolutions with the intent of keeping them and making a lasting change for the better, only to backslide and resort to the same behaviors we were so desperately trying to change. This oft repeated pattern is a recipe for disappointment and only serves to further bruise our self esteem. I want to focus on how the process of goal setting for your golf will create motivation and ultimately greater confidence. The purpose of this piece is to provide you with “guardrails” so that you don’t crash and burn one more time in the flames of failure. Ok, that may be a bit over dramatic, but if you follow the simple path laid out here, I assure you that you’ll find a sense of achievement and be well on your way to accomplishing the very thing you set out to do.

In order for you to develop the game of golf you would like to play, or on a higher level, the life you would like to lead, you need to not only set goals, but fulfill your commitments to those goals as well as change the habits or the process that has impeded you from achieving what you really want.  

For many, setting goals is a random emotional process. What they tend to do is make the goal in their head and then expect them to somehow magically happen - they do nothing to change the “process” that keeps delivering the same disappointing results time and time again. In fact most people confuse goals with dreams, wishes and wants. Goals are dreams, but with a yardstick and a calendar. Without quantification and accountability, another year goes by and you have not achieved what you had hoped. This self fulfilling prophecy promotes negative self-talk that further reinforces their self image as a failure. The resulting disappointment only serves as another nail in the coffin of low self-esteem

The simple solution is to create an achievable plan to get you where you want to be. That plan needs to pass the SMART test.
• Specific
• Measurable
• Achievable
• Relevant
• Time-Framed
Say your goal is ‘To lower my handicap.’ Here’s how to make it SMART…

Step 1: Make it Specific
To ‘lower my handicap’ is vague. To be an 8 handicap is specific. What exactly do you need to do to make that happen?

Step 2: Make it Measurable
How precisely will you know when you’ve reached your goal? What are the benchmarks to getting there?

Step 3: Make it Achievable
Here you run a reality check. Are you prepared to make the commitment your goal will require? If you are a 20 handicap and want to become a single digit, are you willing to commit to the practice time and changes this will require? Is there a more achievable target you are willing to work for?

Step 4: Make it Relevant
Is it truly relevant to you? Do you truly ‘desire’ that which you seek?  You must really want the changes that you are looking for with all your heart when you set any goal for yourself.

Step 5: Make it Time-Framed
What’s a reasonable date for achieving your goal? It’s a fine line between being so ambitious you never expect to succeed and aiming so low you lack incentive to try. You can modify your timetable as you make progress.

To optimize your chances of succeeding, write down your goals and keep them in front of you, at your workstation and at home.  Keep a copy in your golf bag and read them before each practice session and each round. You become what you think about most of the time! Be sure to chart your progress. I encourage you to focus on the process rather than to get caught up with the outcome. When a wise man was asked, “How do you eat an elephant?” He responded, “One bite at a time!” Focusing on getting to an 8 handicap (outcome) can appear at times as an ‘elephant.’ To hit 80% of fairways or have fewer than 30 putts per round (process) are small bites that have an immense impact on the desired outcome. We have seen empirical data that setting “process” goals as opposed to strictly “outcome” goals produce positive and more sustainable results.

Follow these steps and you’ll be well on your way to achieving your goal.