Every summer several of my brothers and cousins go to Iowa to play golf for 3½ days. On each of the first three days (Thursday, Friday and Saturday) they play at least 36 holes of golf. The final day (Sunday) they play 18 holes. Then they go home.
I hate golf.
I could give you multiple reasons why I can’t stand the game, but the truth is, I hate it because I’m a terrible golfer. And since I’m no good at the game, I always lose. In addition to hating golf, I hate losing – especially to my brothers. Being the animals that they are, they always make it worse on me by rubbing my poor performance in my face.
I realized years ago that I’d never be good at the game of golf because I’m not willing to put in the time to practice. Just one round of golf takes over four hours.
If I decided I wanted to get serious about the game, I would have to take lessons, hire a personal coach, practice my swing, hit countless practice balls, and play once or twice a week – an investment of a minimum of 6 to 10 hours of my time each week. Maybe after 2 or 3 years of that kind of routine, I would be able to beat some of my brothers. Maybe.
A couple of years ago, one of the marketing gurus I pay attention to posted a video on his blog of a presentation that was given by Dean Jackson. Dean is a retired real estate agent who teaches other real estate agents how to market their services.
In the video, Dean was teaching his fellow realtors a formula he uses to get important projects done. Since he loves to play golf, he explained how easy it is for him to play the game, but how hard it is for him to get anything done when he’s working in his office. He came up with a brilliant formula on how to apply the way he plays golf to his work activities. The acronym Dean came up with for his new discovery was G.O.L.F.
The “G” in G.O.L.F. stands for “Goal.” When a person wants to play a round of golf, he makes a decision to go golfing, blocks off the time on his calendar, and then rearranges his schedule so he is able to follow through on his goal.
The “O” in G.O.L.F. stands for “Optimal Environment.” When the person arrives at the golf course, he steps into the most desirable environment there is for playing the game of golf. There’s a clubhouse where he can get ready. There’s a practice area he can use to warm up. And, of course, starting with the first hole, there’s a systematic way in which he is able to proceed through the entire course, one hole at a time, until he completes the final hole.
The “L” in G.O.L.F. stands for “Limited Distractions.” On a golf course, there’s no internet, no television, no interruptions, and no fires to put out. Some golf courses prohibit cell phones, while others have policies that require players to either silence their phones or place them in vibrate mode. Even when a golf course doesn’t have a cell phone policy, most players follow the accepted rules of etiquette for golfers by either silencing their phones or placing them in vibrate mode. This allows the other golfers to play a game that is free from distractions.
The “F” in G.O.L.F. stands for “Fixed Time.” Since a typical game of golf takes around four hours, a golfer has a fixed time in his head as to how long he is going to have to be away from everything else that needs to be done. He can easily block off the time on his calendar and work everything else around his golf game. By having a clear understanding as to how much time he is going to commit to playing golf, when he gets to the golf course, he can relax and free up his mind from any guilt or worries.
I’m notorious for having important projects on my list of things to do for weeks (or months) without ever getting them completed. The G.O.L.F. system gives me a process that I can follow so I can start and finish important tasks and projects.
The first step for me in getting any task or project started and/or completed is to set the goal. There are two requirements for the setting of the goal: (1) making the decision to complete the task or project by a certain date, and (2) actually blocking off the time on my calendar to do the work. On the planned date and time, I tell my receptionist that I don’t want to be interrupted with any phone calls, and I get to work. If I have a task or project I can get done somewhere other than my office, I get out of the office and go somewhere else.
My office is not the optimal environment for me to get important work done. If I want to focus and concentrate on something like writing, I have to do it somewhere other than my office. I go to a place where there are limited distractions (no phones, internet, interruptions, or fires to put out) and I focus on only one thing – my work. The “place” that I go to is usually a coffee shop or my kitchen table (as long it’s early in the morning, like 5:30 or 6:00 a.m., when there are no interruptions or distractions).
When I sit down to work (at the pre-planned time, in an optimal work environment where distractions are limited), I always have a fixed time that I know I’m going to work before I stop and take a break. That time is usually 90 minutes.
In order to facilitate this whole process, I set a timer for 90 minutes and then get to work. With a timer, it is impossible for me to cheat, so I’m able to get in a full 90 minutes of uninterrupted time. When the timer goes off, I stop working and take a break. You’d be surprised at how much a person can accomplish in 90 straight minutes of uninterrupted time.
The process that I just explained to you is the exact same process our Lord used when he prayed. He would make a decision (set a goal) that he was going to pray. Then He would go to a place in the wilderness where He was completely alone (an optimal environment with limited distractions). We can assume that whenever He left to pray, He had a fixed time in His mind as to when He would return.
Would you allow me to be so bold as to suggest to you that our Lord expects each of us to imitate Him in the way that he prayed? The problem is, we can’t just disappear into the wilderness to pray like He did. There is, however, another place where we can go and pray any time of the day or night. A place that provides an optimal environment that is free from distractions. Do you know what “place” I’m talking about?
It’s our perpetual adoration chapel where our Eucharistic Lord is present body, blood, soul and divinity, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. All you need to do in order to follow in our Lord’s footsteps is to make the decision to commit to a fixed time that you will visit with Him in the chapel.
I told you earlier that I hate losing, so I can’t stand the thought of losing out for all eternity. That’s one of the reasons I play it safe by using the G.O.L.F. system to ensure I have quality time with our Savior every day.
There will be a moment in time when the game of life ends for you. Will you be ready? Your chances will be better if you set a goal today to spend at least an hour each week with our Lord in the chapel. Don’t put this off any longer. The end of your life here on earth may be just around the corner.