There is a multi-billion dollar business of motivational speakers, YouTubers, podcasters and the like. It is understandable that we all can use a push from time to time to keep us on task of achieving whatever goal we may have. Motivation plays a big part, however motivation alone will not get any work done for you. You see the way our brains work is when you do something you enjoy you get a nice shot of internal “happy juice,” scientifically known as dopamine. This dopamine lets you know to call off the hounds of fear and enjoy the moment. The problem is, the more “happy juice” you get, the more you crave, and the more you may get stuck in your comfort zone. This is how habits are formed and why it is so hard to break a habit. Our brains have set up mechanisms to reward us when we feel happy and safe, it also has mechanisms to let us know to be fearful and run, too. Therefore in a golfer’s world, practice seems to always go well, thus lots of “happy juice!” When you take it to the golf course it may not go as well, “fear juice.” You get happy in a controlled environment on the driving range or putting green when the consequences are not high but once you step on to the course, FEAR of mistakes, FEAR of embarrassment, FEAR of failure sets off the fight or flight mechanism and dopamine is no match. You are now outside your comfort zone!
How do you overcome this internal battle? You must understand why you are playing golf in the first place. If you are playing to be competitive, you will need to be willing to be uncomfortable, to push yourself beyond your happy places; you will need to dig deep into your processes of preparation and be willing to accept failure as a part of the winning formula. When doing so you get rewarded with “happy juice” making it easier to repeat the next time. If you are seeking to be a recreational player and have fun with golf, HAVE FUN with learning the game as well enjoy your playing partners. If you make mistakes, well you are supposed to, golf is hard! Be productive with your learning process, enjoy learning, understand golf is a hard game to play, it may help you relax and enjoy your experience more. When you hit a great shot for the recreational golfer “happy juice” kicks in, this is when you tend to believe you are better than you are, and expectations get the better of you. Take it for what it is, an opportunity to learn more about your game, it was successful however the next time it may not be! GOLF 101, you can barrow it but you can never own it!
Finally, if you are motivated either way to be a competitive or recreational player, understand why you are going for it. Once you have set a game plan to enjoy the journey of learning the great game of golf, understand that it will take a lot of hard work to be good. Understanding that even with motivation you will be tested, be patient! If you bring the right attitude into the process you will have more moments of “happy juice” that will continue feeding your motivation to play, that will continue feeding your desire to improve, that will continue feeding your ability to play the game you love!
Enjoy your Journey!