By Brandi Jackson

Goal setting is an important step in the process of becoming the best junior and collegiate golfer you can be. But goal setting and the process of achieving them have been up for a lot of debate over the years, so I wanted to share my thoughts on setting goals and how I’ve learned to approach this process in my own life now in comparison to during my golf career.

We all need goals and dreams that we are striving to accomplish, they are what make us get out of bed every day with a purpose in mind. But the reasons behind the goals are important for when you first start to set goals.

For starters, it starts with setting goals for yourself, not for anyone else. As a young athlete, I do believe your parents, coaches, and other adults are the best resources for advice and support on setting the right goals. Many times they have a better understanding of what success looks like in the future and that the process isn’t always going to be fun and games. They know that what a young adult may WANT to do or NOT WANT to do, doesn’t always get to win the battle if the bigger picture of success is going to be jeopardized. However, at the end of the day, your goals should be ones that you want to achieve for yourself, not for anyone else.

Everyone’s goals are going to be different. Don’t sell yourself short and certainly don’t choose a path just because you are being lazy or don’t want to work hard to achieve your goals but also don’t feel pressured to make your goals be something you don’t want them to be. If it’s something you really want, then start by figuring out why you play golf and what you want to achieve.

Write Down Your Why

Write down three reasons that you play golf and three reasons why you want to play golf in college or three reasons why you are playing college golf. Think about them before you write them down. And make sure you answer these for your own reasons. There aren’t any wrong answers, but your answers could dictate the path and direction you should focus on so that you can continue to enjoy this awesome game and what it can bring to your life!

Long Term, Short Term, and Process Goals

Now that you have identified the “WHY” behind your goals, I want to talk about the difference between long term, short term, and process goals. All three are important but knowing the difference and which ones to focus on can be the difference in achieving them or not.

Goals are normally thought of as future achievements. They are dreams and wishes for something you want to happen in the future. By the time I was 9 years old, I already had my long-term goal (or dream) – to play on the LPGA Tour. That is all I wanted to do. I never made a backup plan, I never thought about another profession or career. Not long after that, I set another shorter, but still, long-term goal, to play at Furman University. Because of the legacy of the Furman Women’s Golf program, I knew it was my best opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Dottie Pepper, Betsy King, and Beth Daniel to play on the LPGA Tour. So by the time I was probably 10 or 11 years old, I already had my “long-term goals” in place for my life. I thought I was all set!

Goals and Dreams are Great but Don’t Forget the Process

Well, the one part of the whole “achieve my dream” process that I forgot about was the process itself. I had all of these long-term goals but I never set goals for the process itself. It never really crossed my mind that the “dream” wasn’t just going to “happen”. I will never forget my college coach Mic Potter sitting me down for our end of the year meetings and asking me what my goals were for the next year. My exact answer was “I don’t know, I don’t really have any, I just want to let things happen.“. If I could pop that 20-year old on the back of the head right now I would.

And not because just setting some goals for the next season would have meant that I would have focused on the process then either, but at least it would have been a better start. It would have given me something to work towards achieving in a shorter term sense so that maybe I would have worked a little hard for something that was closer in time than my long-term goal of playing on the LPGA Tour.

Long-term goals (dreams) are what motivates athletes to work hard every day. While you never, want to dwell on the past, you can also do the opposite and get too consumed with what you want to do in the future. If you are constantly thinking about what you WANT, aren’t you taking away from time and energy that should be put into what you can be doing NOW, in the present?

We all need goals and dreams that we are striving to accomplish, they are what make us get out of bed every day with a purpose in mind. But if we don’t take care of the many, many small steps (the process) that it takes to reach those short and long-term goals (the outcome), then that is all they will ever be.

Setting out your short-term, long-term, and process Goals

Write down 2 short-term (within 6 months) and 2 long-term (1 year or more) goals for each category: academics, golf, fitness, and personal. Then for each goal write down 3 steps you can be doing NOW to help you reach those goals. These are your actions, they are controllable and doable. This will serve as a reminder of what you want to accomplish in the future by doing what it takes TODAY

Example Goals for a Current College Golfer

  • Long-term goal: Be a collegiate All-American
  • Short term goal: Win a collegiate tournament

Process goals: Ask your coach for extra help, practice 4+ hours additional hours each week outside of your normal practice time, keep track of drills/stats and improvement each week, play a competitive match against a teammate or boys team member each week, workout 1 additional time each week outside of your normal required workouts, meet with mental coach 1 additional time than required each month, play 2-3 tournaments during the offseason (holiday break).

For more information on Brandi Jackson, visit her website at Follow Brandi on Twitter @bjacksongolf and Instagram @bjacksongolf.

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