What do you do, habitually, when things become difficult? Do you keep going, or check out? Do you become motivated or irritated? Do you stay on course, or veer off in another direction?
Interestingly, golfers do the same thing whenever they get into trouble on the course. And it doesn’t matter if they’re old or young, experienced or inexperienced, professional or brand new to the game. When golfers find themselves in the woods the first thing they do, automatically, is ask “Where’s the flag?” Golfers routinely reorient themselves to their target and keep going. Why?
Robert Fritz, the author of The Path of Least Resistance and Creating says “It’s not what a target is, but what it does.” Targets give us something to refocus upon, particularly when we’re in trouble. Golfers find it particularly easy to refocus on targets because they have been pre-established as part of the course they are playing, and they’re either in view or just around the next corner. By contrast, many people don’t have a course established for their day, let alone their career or their life. It’s easy to be off course - when you don’t have one.
In a recent keynote speech in Switzerland, I outlined how we all benefit from pre-designed courses that are set out for us throughout our school years, and as part of our post-secondary education. However, once we enter the work world, there is no course pre-established for our career. As such, it is incumbent upon us to design such a course for ourselves.
What would such a course look like? Pretty much like the design of a golf course. We would have an overriding end result and a series of small targets that bridge the gap between where we are and where we want to end up. When we have such a course, we then know when we’re on course and when we’re off course. When we get into trouble, having established short-term targets, we’d have something to refocus upon and, as a result, some obvious next steps to take regardless of the challenges before us.
Unlike the phrase “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”, when we have a clear end result and we know where we are in relation to that target, we really don’t need to muster a great deal of internal fortitude to proceed. We simply chip away until we get there. And because the course is broken down into tiny, manageable sections, it’s easy to see the progress we’re making.
So where do you start if you don’t have a course for your life or career? Practice with your days and weeks first. Design your day, in advance, and see the difference a course makes. Make a game of it, and when the going gets rough, as it inevitably will, notice the impact of having those pre-established targets.
In my next blog post, we’ll visit the idea of creating more powerful end results that evoke emotion.