Playing a round of golf can be really enjoyable. So is meeting up with friends or dropping a stroke or two from your average. There are many aspects of golf that are fun, but then . . . there are the other parts that are not-so-fun.
Practicing putts from various distances over and over, being in a slump that you’re struggling to get out of, or really wanting to improve and having to put in the work–those parts of golf may not be so fun, even when you know that you should take the time and effort.
When something is fun (whether it’s golf, a hobby, work, or something else), we’re usually pretty motivated to do it. Having fun is an intrinsic motivator because those positive feelings help you to want to do it more—you want to have more fun.
But when something feels hard, it’s not that exciting, or if you know it’s going to take a lot of effort, your motivation may drop. It can be hard to be excited to do the hard stuff. That’s normal. Motivation is a bit like a pendulum, flowing back and forth between being motivated without issue to being at a standstill with no motivation in site.
Like a pendulum, you can give your motivation a bit of a push when you need to so that you can get a little more interested in working on those not-so-fun aspects of the game. Here are four ways to help boost your motivation when you need it. These can come in especially handy when you have to work on the parts of golf that aren’t naturally enjoyable.
Set process goals
Process goals are related to your own skill and the process of playing, for example, working on making your swing smoother, or taking a relaxing breath before each putt. These goals are completely in your control because you can work on them and see growth and improvement, which can increase motivation. So, instead of trying to improve your stroke count or your percentage of shots made, consider breaking that down even further to something you can really focus on. By doing so, you can see your effort turn into change and improvement, which can help your motivation increase over time.
Change it up
Sometimes we get into a groove, which can easily turn into a rut. Take some time to make a change or two, even if they’re small. For example, start on the back 9, or pick a new course to try. Add a new player to your foursome or take a lesson to refine your skills. When your overall motivation has dropped, making some changes and mixing things up can help spark motivation and help get you going to work on the areas of your game you need to.
Ultimately, we want to build intrinsic motivation, playing for internal reasons like joy and growth rather than extrinsic motivation where you’re doing things to gain praise, money, feedback, or rewards. BUT there are times where you can be strategic with your extrinsic motivation to fire up your intrinsic motivation again. For example, if you set a goal to practice 20 minutes of putting, 4 days a week, plan a reward for the end of the month if you’ve done that. For example, treat yourself to a coffee, a lunch with friends, or a new audio book. Using this external (extra) motivation can help you get back into the groove, see yourself improve, and can help trigger your intrinsic motivation.
Sometimes having a partner or group to help keep you accountable can be another great way to fire up that motivation to work on something challenging. Whether you find another golfer working on the same area of their game or someone else who’s looking to improve, the two of you (or a small group) can become an accountability team. Check in regularly on your work and progress, cheer each other on, give gentle nudges when the work isn’t being put in, and celebrate progress and improvement.
Motivation can come and go, especially when you’re working on nitty gritty details that aren’t so fun on their own, so utilize these four tips to find more motivation when you need it, whether that’s on the course or off.