October 24, 2011

Remain Motivated To Play Your Best Golf

Remain Motivated to Play Your Best Golf

 

Ever notice no matter how many lessons you take or how much practice you put in, you still aren’t progressing as quickly as that other person at the club?  That person at the fitness center seems to be getting stronger more quickly, and/or your regular weekend golf partner seems to be improving more quickly than you.  How do these scenarios impact and effect your motivation?  The answer is up to you. 

 


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In motivational psychology, there are two major categories of motivation: ego orientation and task orientation.  Unfortunately for most of us in this society, we typically measure ourselves and are measured by others via ego orientation.  This involves comparing ourselves to others around us.  One of the dangers in this is that no matter what the criteria are by which we measure ourselves, we can nearly always find someone who is doing it better, more efficiently, or more effectively.  As someone who has helped train and develop some of the world’s top athletes, I have often witnessed the tendency for even the best athletes to be distracted by the progress of others.  This can result in a significant drain on the person’s desire and motivation.  This type of thinking is characterized by thoughts like: “I’ll never catch up with him no matter how hard I try”, and “He has more opportunity to practice and train than I do, I’ve got no chance against him” and “I’m so much better than that guy, how does he beat me in this tournament”.  Also concerning are those people who are not putting in maximum effort but are still achieving well compared to their opponents, teammates, or peers.  An example of this is particularly seen in junior golf where a young person may be disproportionately more skilled because of physical growth differences that will eventually even out over time.  These “early bloomers” face the challenge of staying motivated to give 100% effort in training, despite the fact they are winning nearly all of their competitions and/or are the biggest fish in their respective small pond.  Many of these young golfers are initially successful in spite of dubious work habits and/or inefficient developmental training procedures. Regularly, when the rest of the pack begins to catch up (as they inevitably do) far too many of these players struggle with the challenge of staying ahead of the pack and many suddenly drop out of the game.

 

Fortunately, there is the alternative option of task orientation.  Task orientation, in contrast to ego orientation, is simply motivation to achieve excellence at a particular task. The catalyst here is pursuit toward fulfillment of one’s own goals- without regard to the progress of others.  It means setting personal goals, developing a specific plan of action and creating personal criteria by which to chart progress.  Knowing that “I’m getting better every day”, and/or “I’m 50% of the way towards my goal” help people stay on task and remain motivated to persevere through the natural obstacles that are encountered by anyone striving to reach their potential.  

 

It is natural to measure ourselves by looking at the others around us.  The challenge is to give that type of measurement less power, and to create more powerful and deep-rooted goals over which we have more influence and control, and to affirm ourselves for our movement toward personal achievement.

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