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One thing at a time

It’s the time of year when many of us have set goals, targets and aspirations (or had them set for us by way of an appraisal). So how do we avoid the annual pattern of brief enthusiasm, followed by a gradual slackening off, distraction, guilt and then at the end of year a pledge to do better “this time around”?

Well it’s going to differ for everyone, but I’ve recently experienced something that might help.

Towards the end of last year I gave in to the inevitable as a self-employed late 30s bloke and started to learn to play golf. It’s the first time for a while where I’ve been in a situation where I’m so obviously and publicly hopeless. In fact, I can see why many people start and then quit quite quickly. There’s a lot to remember, it looks easy from the outside and wastes everybody’s time when it goes wrong. Reminds me a lot of learning to manage other people…

So what are the things that are keeping me sane and interested?

First, when I’m playing, I remember to keep it simple. I know I won’t be beating Rory McIlroy’s score anytime soon, so I focus on one thing per round e.g. head still on the swing; rotate through the hips after contact; keep the left leg steady. By doing this I can see and measure my improvement.

Second, I’ve got a great teacher. His style suits me well, he talks in a way I can understand and he makes sure that I always leave more encouraged and motivated than when I started the lesson.

Third, I practice immediately after the lesson, so I work on the techniques on the driving range whilst they are still fresh, getting them into muscle memory the right way, rather than how I misremember them a week later.

How can this help you? Well when you set your personal or business development goals this year, try doing this:

  1. Focus on one of thing for the first month. It might be as simple as learning the name of someone new in the organisation every day, or making one call to an old contact every day. Once you’ve got this into muscle memory, move onto the next thing whilst keeping doing the first.

  2. Get a mentor. This should be someone you really trust, respect, knows what they are doing and most importantly talks in a language you understand.

  3. Practise immediately after you learn something new so that you practise it right. Practice makes permanent.

Good luck!


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