New Year’s Resolutions and Habit Formation

I’m sure we have all set New Year’s Resolutions in the past, and some have been successful, but most have not. I just read a most interesting book by Charles Duhigg titled The Power of Habit, Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. Duhigg’s basic premise is that “Transforming a habit isn’t necessarily easy or quick. It isn’t always simple. But it is possible.” Based on years of research, scientists say that “habits emerge…because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort. Left to its own devices, the brain will try to make almost any routine into a habit, because habits allow our minds to ramp down more often.” How does this apply to your golf swing? Well, just think of how you developed your swing and why it remains as it does, regardless of mostly failed results. Without knowing how to specifically develop your “golf swing habit,” it tends to develop on its own through repetition, and most repetitions are not necessarily based on accurate knowledge of what is required. The basic process of habit development is a three step loop, involving a “cue,” a “routine,” and a “reward.” As Duhigg explains, “Over time, this loop…becomes more and more automatic. The cue and reward become intertwined until a powerful sense of anticipation and craving emerges.” In your golf game, the “cue” is the thought(s) that triggers your swing, the “routine” is how you move your golf club to accomplish your goal, and your “reward” is the feeling of accomplishment you get when you hit a good shot. We’ve all hit good shots at some point, regardless of how inefficient our swing is.

Therefore, we reinforce the not-so-good swing in our brains and hope to replicate it each time we hit a ball. How do we change the inefficient swing habit? First, acquire the knowledge of how to move the club properly. Second, find a PGA Professional who knows how to change habits. Third, get Duhigg’s book and visit Keiser University College of Golf & Sport Management to talk with one of our expert educators. Best wishes for a habit-changing 2014.

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