Setting Goals for Golf | Flow Golf Podcast TV | Rick Sessinghaus & Hallam Morgan | Golf Mental Game

Flow Golf Podcast TV Episode#1 / Golf Mental Game

We’re obviously moving into a new year, a new season, so many players, so many people are excited to set new goals, achieve new things. 

So I want to take this discussion down to the conversation of goals and motivation. So what’s your experience been with setting goals and helping some of your players, some of your clients keep their motivation high throughout the season, throughout the off season as well?

We obviously just had that. But throughout the offseason, throughout the season and just keeping that, that discipline, the motivation high. Sure. Yeah. And you said a few things in there that are key. We have goals, we have motivation, we have discipline.

And I believe they’re all cohesive together, right? We get people who get very excited about creating goals, and I want to get better and I want this handicap next year. And I think that’s great.

We see some excitement yet. Unfortunately, some of the goal setting that I see with players is it doesn’t have a plan behind it. So I know you and I are going to jump into how we can break down our goals in a little bit more of a planning thing than just something I do down the road?

But the key thing in you and I have talked about this a lot with motivation is it’s great to have what I want to accomplish this. We do have to be clear, why is this so important for us to pursue and basic motivation is what is your motive to take action and what is going to get you up to be disciplined day in and day out, or week in and week out to go towards those goals? 

And so motivation is something that I believe is at the core of achievement is that sometimes we’re not going to we wake up in the morning, we’re not going to want to go to the gym and work on speed training. We’re not going to want to go putt for 30 minutes or whatever it may be, but that motivation should come from some different areas. And so I remember this was several years ago. I was working with an elite college player who had been elite since he was like nine, ten years old.

So he was used to the pressures that go with performance and we were having a discussion and he was talking about how he’s lost his love for the game and he was only 20 years old. So now you’re like, wait a second, why he’s lost his love of the games, like all these folks.

So when we got into it, we started talking about motivation, his reasons to play golf, his reasons to take action had changed throughout the years when he was ten, eleven, twelve, 13. He truly played it for the love of the game.

He loved being out with his friends. He liked pushing himself, being creative, trying different shots and and back then he said it was being very childlike, which you and I know is a great flow trigger to be able to be in that mindset of just experimenting and playing right.

Playing golf is what it is. And as it shifted to getting recruited for college and scholarships and all that kind of stuff, it started to become more of, I have to do this and this is going to make my parents happy.

And there was it was more about results and external things that people telling me was good and then like 15 16 happens and it starts flipping a little bit to mostly just extrinsic reasons, you know, and not being ranking points and trophies and people telling them how great he is and with the end goal being a college scholarship. 

And so unfortunately, that kept going. And yes, he played at a great college and he had a great career. But I was hired kind of midway through his college career and he was burned out. The reasons he was playing were not for him anymore.

They were for other people. And you started seeing his discipline and his work ethic be affected, which of course, affected his results. So we have an interesting dynamic. It’s great to win. It’s great, I mean, awesome.

It is. Yet if that’s the only reason you’re doing it, we know golf. We lose more than we win. And can we have other reasons to play? So you and I always ask our clients about why they play golf, right?

And so I put it into two different basic buckets: intrinsic reasons and extrinsic reasons. 

And I think there should be a balancing act of that. The peak performance that I’ve studied, they are more intrinsically motivated and stuff. So, you know, I’m not sure what you feel on that subject, but I call it a relationship with the game. 

Our relationship changes throughout the years. I’ve been playing golf for over almost 40 years now, and it’s gone from being childlike to being a job to college to now. It’s for other reasons. So I get that part.

But deep down, why are you teeing it up today or why are you going to practice, I think, is a very powerful question. 

Absolutely. No, that’s so true, Rick, and a great story, and thank you for sharing nothing from my perspective.

Conversations with some of the top athletes in the world, their coaches over the last few years or so. And what I’ve learned, I believe, is, yes, extrinsic motivation can get you a certain distance. I believe people that are extrinsic motivated.

They can still win. There is still high performance there, but my belief is that for sustained high performance, those that continue to wait and time after time, after time, they’re more likely to be intrinsically motivated, in my opinion.

And that’s what I’ve seen from the interviews. The conversations I’ve had with the elite performance is exactly that. So intrinsic motivation, especially in the world of golf. Golf is a wonderful long career if you can allow it to be.

It’s one of the sports where ultimately you could be in the game of golf at the highest level for 40 plus years. There’s not many sports in the world that do that, so I believe it becomes even more important from a golf standpoint to be intrinsically rather than extrinsic motivated because it’s more sustainable.

So it’s completely true. I totally agree. Definitely. So, you know, you and I are going to ask these golfers why they play golf, and some people have never asked themselves that or if maybe when they first started it was, you know, a fun sport.

It was something to do networking with business. Or maybe they wanted to compete. And yet as you keep playing, sometimes you forget it, and sometimes you forget about the kind of the pure reason, right? So I don’t play as much as I used to, but I really enjoy going out there and being connected to my playing partners and playing beautiful golf courses as being outside recreation.

But I still like challenging myself. I still love hitting great golf shots. And that brings a passion to the game and to me, passion. And you and I are very much aligned that this passion becomes an intrinsic motivator and passion can help us focus.

Passion can get that energy that we need to play great golf, and that comes from usually intrinsic. Yes, we get excited about extrinsic reasons and people telling us how great we are and trophies and in social media. All my swings looked beautiful and all that stuff.

That’s fine, but it doesn’t always last. And sometimes we need to tap into some other reserves when things are not going so well. So I think and I think that’s a good segue way as we talk about goals, if we have people write out goals for few reasons.

I do it to tell people to focus. Focus is a key part of flow. And if people are very clear on what they want and this is the same thing with a golf shot, right, I’m clear on, I want this shot to happen.

I want to achieve this in my next golf season. I want to achieve this in my next practice session. I want when we have these clear goals, it helps move performance forward. Yet when you’re not quite sure, why are these goals important to you?

I think there’s a disconnect and I think we see this certainly with New Year’s resolutions if it sounds good on paper. And then actually, when you have to now go have the behavior of the action that’s going to be necessary, we see a disconnect.

And that’s why you and I talk about motivation first, I think, is let’s get clear on why you’re doing it, why it’s important to you, then yeah, let’s get clear on what you know. So when we look at goal setting, I chunk it down into some different areas.

I certainly want people to push themselves. I want people to look at the long term and what they want to accomplish. Some of the research I’ve seen is, you know, we certainly want to push somebody on the outside of their comfort zone outside of their current skills, right?

Or it shouldn’t even be a goal, you know? But we have to be careful of how big we make it? And so I do chunks with time and also with challenges. 

So if it’s something of a college golfer or an elite golfer who wants to turn pro, eventually, that might be three or four or five or six years down the road, and there might be an ultimate goal even beyond that. I think that’s a great way to kind of see where you’re going. Set the mark. 

Yeah, yeah. Yet some people, I think, get lost in just that dream and then they don’t ever chunk it down and bring it back to it.

So I like to spend our time here talking more about maybe the shorter term ideas, that is if we go from some outcome goals, which I’m very much into outcome goals. Some people say it’s not about the outcome.

It’s like, Well, it is about the outcome. Let’s just create. Let’s create yeah, the outcome to the process, doesn’t it? If you want to finish top ten, it looks very different, potentially to winning the tournament. That then will determine it’s maybe not to focus on the outcome too much, but it’s about its use in that outcome to determine what your process will look like. 

So I completely agree with Eric. Exactly, and I think the other part of goal setting is how do we measure them and how do we check back in with some of those goals along the way?

And so I do talk a lot about performance goals. So let’s just hypothetically say we’re in a new season here and we and we have some of these golfers who really want to get three shots better on their index this year, which is a great, you know, great goal.

But after that, they don’t really ask the follow up questions, which I know you and I do. It’s like, OK, in order to improve three shots per round, where are we going to get it from? You know, and.

I always look at the low hanging fruit, which would be, you know, three pots and penalties and stuff like that and. But if we look deeper, we need to know specifically in golf what are the performance factors that are leading to that?

And you and I have talked about stats and stuff, but stats do give us at least a check in point to see where our game is. And it could be, and these are very basic. Everybody. You know, people are using strokes gained and all that stuff.

But even if you looked at, Hey, I’m having 36 putts per round and I have 33 putts per round, I would hope that those out there who are a nine handicap would look at that as like, Whoa, I’m wasting some shots putting up.

So if we use that as a very basic model and say, OK, my stats say that my performance in this area is suboptimal, it’s an opportunity to improve again. Then some people stop there. I go, OK, and they go, Yeah, I need to improve my putting.

I go, OK, great. Specifically, how so putting could be getting the ball started in a line speed control reading of green and mindset. I mean, those are four basic things. What with yeah, what within that do I need to get better at?

Why are we three? Putting is a purely distance control. Is it reading greens and so on and so forth? And then I think it gets back to what you and I would then promote the most, which is what are those process goals that will help me become a better putter?

And that certainly can be practice habits. And I’m going to work on the start line by doing my line drill 30 times every morning and looking at where the club faces that impact. That’s a mechanical thing with instant feedback that’s going to help my ball get started on line.

Now you and I also work on a pre-shot routine. How can I be fully committed to this putt? Visualize the putt with as much clarity as possible. Do the things necessary to swing at the putter with freedom? Now we have a little bit of a mental goal connected with a physical goal.

So I like to know from your perspective when you start chunking these goals down for golfers. How do you now go from the outcome, which a lot of people right now into that process? Absolutely. So I would always say that it stems from ultimately, you’re going to make a change to yourself by what you’re doing on a daily basis. 

It comes down to … success is created by a few daily disciplines, in my opinion. So of course, we want to set that long term goal out exactly what you’re saying, but then it’s breaking it down. It’s reverse engineering and saying, right, I’ve got clarity on the direction.

If you were to drive from California over to, I don’t know, over to the East Coast or something, you map out where your destination is. But ultimately there’s a couple of things you need to decide.

Number one is you need to know where you currently are. We’ll touch on self awareness in a second and the connection to some bits like that, but then you need to go that route in between. You’ve spotted the destination as important.

Current location is just as vital, but then it’s reverse engineering all the way back for that entire route from A to B. So I would walk backwards and I would say, right, okay, you want to achieve this in five years time, ten years time, whatever the long term goal is, then I would ask, Okay, perfect, what do you need to achieve in the next year in order to take a step towards that? And we’d go backwards again and quite brilliantly. You want to achieve that in a year? 

What do you need to achieve in the next month in order to take steps towards that the next week, the next day?

And you can even go all the way back into the next hour. You can break it right down into this current moment and decide what’s your priority in the present moment, right this second. And I think that’s really powerful for people because they understand that every single step they’re taking on a daily basis is moving them towards that market post, but it’s all within their control. They’re not lost in this dream. 

They’re not unsure what to do right now. The only thing they have is the present moment, and they can take action on that right now with complete confidence that they’re taking these steps towards where they want to be.

And I think that’s really important is that trust, faith, confidence in your plan, it’s not deviating from the plan and getting distracted by other people’s work and other people’s beliefs and values. And also it’s creating this plan with your trusted team, your beliefs, your values and an understanding and believing that every step you’re taking on a daily or even hourly basis is moving you towards those long term goals. 

So I think that’s really, really important. And that’s the differential new differentiation you make. And I think it’s so vital we don’t ignore the outcome. Those outcomes are the marketplace.

They set the direction, but make sure that you’re focused on a daily basis as the process goes on the actions that are required to get to that point. Really, really important. Exactly. So we have these actions that are in our control.

We have the habits, and I know you’re very much into creating these habits that are going on. Those behaviors lead to different results, right? And we have to have a feedback loop of these process goals, these habits actually, are they getting me closer to the goal?

Some people in golf, they may go down different roads, and I’m fine with that. I think experimenting is good. I think wanting to get better is admirable. But sometimes people change what had made them great in the first place.

And they’re. Too much instead of getting very clear. OK, my putting is doing this, my club faces open. This is what I want to do. Instead of saying, well, I have to throw everything out and try a whole new method, and it’s like that.

We have to be careful of that. But what you and I have talked about is the self-awareness idea of being clear where you’re at now and then where you want to go. But then as we sometimes check in every day, by the way, you and I have some clients where, yeah, they’re doing journaling for us.

They’re sending us emails on how their practice is going. Or maybe it’s just every month, Hey, is my game getting better in this area? And actually taking that right? And so we have stats now, right? As a marker, if you want to say what our outcome is.

And it’s a tricky situation because I think stats can make us very aware. I think it’s helped some of my players who are in denial, OK? They’ll tell me they’re great and I’ll go. There’s evidence.

There’s some evidence it would be contrary to what you’re telling me. So I think that helps. Yet if we get lost in stats, sometimes we don’t actually do the follow up question because some people then look at stats as just a mechanical thing.

I’m putting poorly because my putting stroke is off. I need to change it. It could be, but as most people who know me know, I’m biased to the medal game, there might be a mindset, a focus, a confidence issue that then led to that.

So what exactly? So what are you? And we’ll get more stats in a moment, but what do you utilize to help players become more self-aware? I think there’s a combination of tools, and that’s exactly a great point because we have to remember what the desired result is, the desired result from stats or from journaling, or from even conversations with other people with mentors, guided with whoever is the end result. 

We want increased self-awareness. I think it’s so important to remember that we’re not doing anything for the sake of doing it, just to tick a box because someone else has done it or because, you know, you’re always doing it.

It’s understanding what the desired result is. Self-awareness, increased self-awareness. That could be great for someplace, someplace that may be more analytical. They like getting into the numbers. They like getting into the data. Kate, really important. 

Bryson DeChambeau, for example, he’s a perfect person that wants to dove into the numbers.

Other people that may be a little bit more reflective in themselves. They prefer just getting a piece of paper. Getting a pen and journaling might be guided by some specific questions that are relevant to the level of self-awareness or the area they want to learn more about themselves.

The other thing I would always say, and I think it’s how we’re innately built as humans, is open up conversation with someone you trust, open up conversation with your coaches, with your family, with your friends, with any mentors that you have that may not actually be coaches.

The more conversation we can have, and the more we can externalize our thoughts, the more sense we can make of everything, the more we can rationalize our thoughts, our beliefs, our values and start to implement processes moving forward.

I always say to players, and it’s a funny thing that we don’t really think about very often. If I asked you to go out and find as much information about a certain person as you possibly could. The first thing you would jump to is you would jump to interviewing straight to the source, find the information and ask them questions. 

But very rarely, when we’re trying to increase our self-awareness do we ask ourselves questions. We need to interview ourselves. We need to ask questions of ourselves to gain that self-awareness, to understand more about us. So I think it’s so important.

I, even as soon as we came on this call, I said to Rick, How are you? The first thing I would do and whenever I see someone, I would ask them how they are. But how often do I stop and ask myself, How are you?

How? Not very often. So I think it’s really important to understand that to increase self-awareness, to understand more about yourself, ask yourself more questions. And that could be getting someone else to ask you questions or you just asking them yourself.

So I’m really ready to hear my opinion, and that’s one way to do that. But there’s multiple different ways. Yeah, no, I love that asking the right question is one of the most powerful tools you can have.

And you mentioned like having a trusted team and not everybody who’s listening to this has, you know, their old physical therapist, that sports psychologist and swing trainer. I get that. But if you have, let’s say you play with your friend every Saturday and they’re open to you asking them questions like, Hey, what have you observed about me? 

You may get some interesting answers like, Well, you get frustrated a lot out there or wow, why are you always being so risky off the tee? Right? And it just doesn’t mean that they’re right. It’s just a feedback loop that will help you become more self-aware.

And I think part of it is in golf, you know, with stats, I understand the importance of them because I think it helps those that are delusional to get a little bit more honest. But I’ve seen at work the opposite a little bit.

Where people become so driven by stats is that they become so critical of themselves, and they use the stats almost to reinforce limiting beliefs, you know, like, see, there’s another bad putting around there it is. Again, I’m a bad potter.

Look at this and it’s like, whoa, time out, time out. You know, the stats may say that the putting was poor, but if you don’t follow up with those questions again, we may realize that it was just one day.

Or maybe it was, you know, I’ve worked with some really good players where they get on a round of golf, wear the greens because of the wind or something like that, they get up to a 13 or 14 on the step meter.

And then now, how often have we ever played on that? Rarely, rarely even elite players. And they may have a poor putting performance. I don’t want that to wrap into. I’m a poor putter. It’s oh, I need to work on when I get on very fast glassy greens.

How am I going to adapt? That to me is a much better question and answer than C. That’s bad putting, and I don’t think people do the follow up questions with the stats. And it just, I think people who are added are doing more stats, which I get, but they’re doing it for the wrong reasons and then say, See, I’m bad at this. It’s like, No, no, no, no, this is information that we’re going to utilize to create better process goals. And there’s other questions that I know you and I ask that have not. Things to do with stats.

And that’s the other key part that I don’t think people want to really open up is, you know, you and I talk about commitment to shall we talk about planning, we talk about decision making, we talk about, you know, are we in a focus state?

You know what I mean? I know a lot, a lot about Rick. And actually, you’re talking about those results and how they can change your beliefs about yourself negatively as well leads quite nicely into what I wanted to talk about next.

But just just before we do that, the key is now here in this cycle, essentially, that happens both positively and negatively, and we decide whether it works one of those ways. So your results ultimately reinforce your beliefs.

Your beliefs even decide how much potential you think you have about yourself. That potential you believe there is affects your action. So it affects how much action you take towards that specific thing. The more action you take or the less action you take determines your results again.

Your results reinforce your belief. So it’s so important at this point, the place to start is in your belief. If you genuinely believe you have the capability, you’re going to believe, there’s more potential. Do you believe there’s more potential?

You’ll take massive action. If you take massive action, you’ll get huge results. Huge results reinforce huge belief. The opposite can also work. Core belief. You end up thinking you have no potential. If you think you have no potential, you’re not going to take much action.

If you take less action, you know what you’re going to get in terms of results, not great results. You reinforce that belief. That’s the concern, which is it can go either way, I believe. So it’s understanding that loop cycle that cycle works and making sure that it’s working to your benefit, not against your benefit.

So just wanted to move that we’re talking about beliefs that Rick I wanted to dive into. Beliefs, really, because I think it’s important to discuss that. And I remember hearing the story about the Roger Bannister effect. And for those that haven’t heard it, the Four-Minute mile barrier had never been broken.

Roger Bannister comes along. I can’t remember the year I wasn’t born. I don’t believe it anyway. That comes along and breaks the Four-Minute mile barrier. Since then, tens of thousands of high school students have gone on to break that Four-Minute mile barrier.

So what’s the importance? Do you believe in beliefs and making sure that people are on this self-awareness? It ties into it nicely, but making sure people are vetting their beliefs, assessing or identifying limiting beliefs? And how do you go through that process with place?

Sure. You know, belief is part of what makes us up on our identity, and I know you and I will talk on a future podcast on identity and the habits and the values and such. But beliefs is a key part of that, not only in the moment my beliefs are going to filter out my environment of what. 

Like you said, potential. Can I or can I not do blank is a belief. And people look in the environment to reinforce a current belief. We have these confirmation biases all the time, too, and sometimes it’s actually counterproductive.

We’re confirming a negative belief too quickly and not challenging it. So like a quick exercise for everybody kind of listening, is it? It’s very basic. It fills in the blank. OK, I am a blank golfer. I am a blank putter.

I am a blank driver of the ball. I am a blank tournament player, right? Whatever that first word is, is your belief. OK? I won’t say the word that came into my head, but ah yeah, I, you know.

And that belief is interesting is that if you gave people the time to consciously think of a belief, yeah, they’re going to kind of make something up. But if we do it really quickly and like, what’s that first thing?

You know, when I play college and competitive golf, I believed I was a great ball striker, but a poor putter. So I bet there’s a disconnect now. Golf requires all these different skills, and so we’re looking at beliefs within each one of the skills.

And so it’s one thing for me to say I’m a good golfer. OK, that’s fine. That seems like I have a good belief system, but if I believe I’m a poor potter and I have a six footer downhill left or right, which used to be, here’s the key word used to be a putt I did not like. OK, I. Good luck now with the performance we got right now, I can look at that and say, Hey, there’s been times that my putting performance hasn’t been what I wanted. That’s a shift in a belief, OK?

And it’s true. I’ve been a very good putter and I’ve shot in the sixties. But I think it’s now challenging some of these beliefs. I do it with evidence because golfers love to tell me I’m a bad putter and I go, Wait a second, you shot 66 last week.

You can’t be about, well, Rick, you know that I got no, no, no, don’t give me the story behind it. You were a great putter that day. We want to do that more often, right? We have this. We have interference over here, and I just want them to be fair with their feedback instead of just feeding that limiting belief so easily. So I look at it, that basic thing first and then I challenge them on some of those beliefs. I love that. And actually, as you’re speaking, Ricky popped into my head about Carole Duke’s famous word, yet the growth mindset and adding yet to the end.

So I guess that’s something that people can look to do as well when they say to themselves, I’m not a great putter at the word. Yet at the end, three letters that are some of the most powerful letters in the English dictionary is to add that word to the end, because it opens up the possibility that you may not be where you want to be right now with your parting, with your long game, with your short game that opens up the reality that you can improve, it can get better. 

You may not be there right now, but ultimately if you implement as we go back to if you decide the right goal, if you reverse engineer and you implement the right actions and you break it right down into what components need to be improved, you can get better. You can train absolutely everything. And growth mindset is a key fundamental part of flow code and everything that we teach, isn’t it?

Yes. Yeah. And kind of the last thing to kind of wrap this up is that we have goals that become very tangible. And yet can we make our mental emotional mind set goals also be tangible? And we’re talking about belief here, and you and I are encouraging our clients to have mindset be an actual goal, right?

And maybe it’s Hey, brick, hey, how am I what? I am going to improve my belief system about my putting. I’m going to believe I can make this putt, how I’m going to do it. Is this this and this?

Yeah, OK. And so, when we look at that. I think having those mind set goals is a key key part of it that some people do well, it’s a little not as tangible. I said it is if you start being self aware.

Now we go and and if we can go and say, Hey, I’m going to be the type of person today that believes I can make this putt, I’m going to see the ball going in the hole. I’m going to remember great golf shots that I’ve hit like this.

We’re now starting to change those beliefs, which now becomes a goal within itself. 

Absolutely couldn’t agree more. What a conversation. And hopefully a lot of clarity for everyone listening. Heading into the new year to set those new goals determine well before we set goals to tell me why we split, why we’re doing those things, why do we want to achieve those goals, then move into the what defined what it is and then reverse engineer, but hopefully a powerful conversation for everyone who’s looking to have a fantastic 2022 fantastic season on the golf course.

And Rick, as always. Absolute pleasure. And I can’t wait for the next conversation, the next episode. That’s right. Let’s achieve those goals. Perfect. Thank you for listening to today’s episode. I know you’ve received some incredible information, and if you would like to hear more, please subscribe.

Flow Golf Podcast TV Episode#1

Setting Goals for Golf | Flow Golf Podcast TV | Rick Sessinghaus & Hallam Morgan
Setting Goals for Golf | Flow Golf Podcast TV | Rick Sessinghaus & Hallam Morgan


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