- November 19, 2020
I suck at golf, but I’m trying to get good at it.
My friend tried coaching me a bit over the summer. He’s been golfing since he was 7 years old. He knows all the mechanics and he spent multiple sessions on the driving range and full rounds trying to pass them onto me — an uphill battle to say the least.
In the beginning, I’d do alright. Some of my shots would be terrible, some below average, and every once in awhile I’d hit a mediocre or even good shot. But, as time went on during the sessions, especially when we played 18’s, my shots would get progressively worse and worse.
Usually, on the back 9, I’d be so frustrated that the things he told me before my swing would go in one ear and out the other. I couldn’t focus. There’d even be times where I’d swing and fully miss the ball.
What the hell?
See, in the beginning, I’d feel relatively optimistic. By that time, I’d forgotten about the bad rounds I played days or weeks ago. I was fresh. Hell, I even remember one game where I drove the ball about 300 yards (really good for me) on my very first swing. I wasn’t thinking too much because I didn’t have the weight of the past shots in my head.
But, as I started to shank a few, I remember one game where I drove three balls in a row right into the trees never to be seen again, I’d start to get more and more frustrated. With each new shot, I was reminded about my past. I had a recent vivid memory of how bad I was at golf and I’d carry it into each new swing.
Once enough bad shots piled up, I could only think of failure. I didn’t treat each new shot as an isolated incident — a new chance to correct my swing, a new opportunity to shoot a better shot, a chance to take in the new information my friend was trying to give me.
So, for the vast majority of the summer, I royally sucked at golf.
But, I kept practicing, I got better, and the handful of good shots I made had one thing in common. For whatever reason, in those moments, I’d let go of the past and decided to give it an earnest shot in the moment.
Why the past messes with your game of life
Where are you living your life the way I was playing those games over the summer?
What are you carrying into the present moment that should be left in the past?
What can you do to focus on the present moment, let the past go, so that you can actually improve and get better?
Golf is a good analogy for how to improve your mindset, achieve your goals, and remain sane enough in the process to pull everything off. From what I hear, you don’t necessarily get better at golf, you just start to suck less at it. The same can be said for your mindset.
Abandon the idea altogether that you’re going to become this perfect human being — the epitome of the shining self-help guru. You’re not. You can, however, gradually rid yourself of those past experiences and limiting beliefs that keep you from doing whatever it is you really want to do with your life.
The practise itself can be painful, tedious, and annoying.
You want to start that business but it has so many teeny tiny little steps of minutiae that frustrate the hell out of you. Then, you revert to your mind and think about all the times you thought about starting a business but never got it off the ground at all.
You want to get fit, but you’re having trouble shedding your self-image as an unfit person. You carry that mindset with you everywhere you go, which causes you to fall short.
The remedy is letting go. There’s no perfect answer as to how to let go, but there are attitudes you can adopt and insights you can draw from to give you the push you need to get there.
Let it go and let loose
Sometimes you can get the process to work. Sometimes the conversations I’d have with myself on the course would work.
“Let it go Ayo. Just swing. Don’t try to do all three steps in the mechanics just focus on one thing. The rest of the swings don’t matter. Also, it’s just a game dude, your success or failure on this swing, or on this 18 as a whole, mean nothing. They don’t say anything about you. Breathe. Swing.”
Then it would work.
Life is best looked at as a game. A game that you practice and want to be great at, but that you ultimately don’t take all that seriously. Ok, so you tried and failed to get your life together a bunch of times before. Doesn’t matter. Doesn’t say anything about you, at all.
Don’t try to figure out every little step of what you need to do to build a better future, do one thing — do the exercise today, write the post, research the idea.
Today matters. You can have a good day, today, and then you’ll see what happens tomorrow. You’ll start to get good, eventually.
I tried to remember that my friend has been golfing for decades, which is why he was good. I reminded myself that I’d never get good without practising, and ultimately I’d never get good if I let my self-judgment keep me from going back to the range and the course over and over again, cumulatively getting better by not thinking too much about each time I went out, each time I swung.
So what are you going to do today? Swing, see what happens.
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