You’re in the middle of a good dream, having a great night’s sleep, when that dreaded noise wakes you. The alarm. The thing you loath more than anything in that moment. It’s 5:30 in the morning and all you want to do is get back to that dream. “Why did I do this to myself?” Is the first thing you think, followed by “Snooze.” You have a choice; give in to the desire to drift back to sleep, or force yourself out of bed and get to the gym to kill that lift you have scheduled. 

Motivation is an essential piece of the puzzle that is improvement. It is also the hardest piece to find. Getting motivated and staying there can seem like an impossible task at times, so knowing yourself and the things that motivate you is of utmost importance on your journey. Everyone has days when they just don’t want to get out of bed, when they want to snooze that early alarm. The successful people are the ones who know how to say no to that desire.

Years ago, there was an article in Golf Digest that I took a particular liking to. It was a feature article on Camilo Villegas and his insane commitment to working out. In it, a main focus was the reminder Villegas has posted on the wall in his gym. “Sacrifice or regret; you choose.” Success is this simple. Either sacrifice now, give up sleep and commit to your goals, or regret later that you didn’t. 

In my own experience, some things work better to motivate me than others, and many of my teammates and competitors don’t respond the same way to my motivators as I do. That’s why it is so important to know yourself. So while I can’t give you a definitive guide of do’s and don’t’s to get motivated, I can tell you what has worked for me and at least provide you with a good place to start. 

Goals – one of the things that helps me to stay motivated is having a set of goals that are difficult to achieve. When making goals, you want to make sure that they are attainable, but not easy. And you want to have a process to reach those goals (See Planning for Success for a more in depth guide to goalsetting). Having goals you are striving towards and keeping them in mind while you practice will keep that fire burning all day every day. 

Some of my favorite practice goals:

  • Practice my short game until I hole 4 shots
  • Make 100 3 footers at the end of practice
  • Hit the 9 ball flights (high, mid, low; draw, straight, fade) at the end of a range session

Goals can also be bigger:

  • Win my next tournament
  • Finish the year at the top of (X) points race
    • Example: Hub Cup Standings

Games – drills don’t simulate competitive situations very well most of the time. They also get boring. Mixing some games into your practice routine will help you focus on situations that you might experience on the course, and they will add variety to your practice that will help you be more productive and maintain a high level of interest.

Some games I like are:

  • Pull Backs – choose 9 putts of different lengths (none inside 15 feet). Go through your full routine for every putt. When you miss a putt, pull the ball directly away from the hole the distance of your putter and putt from the new location. 1 putt is a birdie, 2 is par, and so on. The goal is to shoot the lowest score possible. Keep track of your personal record and make it your goal to beat it. You can also play against other people!
  • Call Your Shot – have a friend, coach, or teammate call your shot. Tell them you want them to dictate distance, target, trajectory, and shot shape. Before every shot, practice your visualization and then try to execute the shot as well as you can. Keep going until you get 10 total.
  • 21 – this is a chipping game where each competitor plays with 2 golf balls. It is not a game you can play on your own. Each player plays 2 shots from a selected location. If you hole a shot, you get 3 points and no one else gets any, closest ball gets 2, second closest gets 1. Play until someone reaches or exceeds 21 points. 

Catchy Reminders – these can come in the form of quotes, lyrics, or any number of things that help you remind yourself that you need to get to practice ASAP. 

Some reminders I use:

  • “You’re either growing or you’re dying” – essentially, you are never staying still. You either move forwards or backwards all the time so you might as well keep moving forwards
  • “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard” – for all the people out there who feel like the guy next to them was just blessed with more natural ability. Remember, if you continue to work harder than the guy next to you, eventually you’ll flip the script and he/she won’t be able to beat you anymore.
  • Just a general hate for losing – when you lose, whether it was a close call or you got buried, take in the feeling. Remember how bad it feels to lose and use that as the fuel that keeps you going at your next practice session. Do everything in your power to make sure you never have that feeling again.

Motivation is a tricky, fragile thing. Some days, it may seem impossible to keep your hand from reaching for that snooze button. With these tips and tricks, you will find it a little easier to jump out of bed and get your day started. A friendly reminder that habits take time to form, so the sooner you start getting motivated, the sooner it will become a habit.

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