Goals for the game of life
Golf is a funny game.
Whether you’re playing for bragging rights with your friends or on the LPGA Tour with some of the best athletes in the world, your confidence can soar or sink in the blink of an eye. One minute, you’re feeling good on the fairway and aiming for the green. The next, you’re struggling to find your ball in the weeds after an errant strike. It’s 18 holes of ebbs and flows when it comes to toying with all your emotions.
Trust me, in my career, I’ve been there, done that more times than I can count. As much as I try to stay cool, calm and collected on the course, I realize the ups and downs I endure after every shot come with the territory. I always tell myself it’s like this mental roller coaster that brings me joy but tests my patience.
But do you know what else is a funny game?
No matter how much faith you have in your skills, abilities and values, there will always bumps in the road. It could be failing a quiz at school, buying an expensive pair of shoes you don’t need, or missing a birdie putt at a major tournament. You’re gonna win some — and, like they say, you’re gonna lose some, too.
That’s why I’m a big — no, a huge! — believer in setting goals, writing them down and evaluating them along the way. Having something to shoot for motivates me. Whether it’s preparing for my financial future (like saving for a home) or advancing on the LPGA Tour, I’m adamant about having a plan in place to succeed.
It’s a ritual I started when I was a freshman at the University of Alabama in 2016. As I’m sure most young adults can probably relate, going off to college and moving away from your family can be pretty daunting at first. For me, I was living in a new state, meeting new people and beginning an exciting new chapter. While it was definitely an awesome opportunity, I was still overwhelmed by the entire experience.
Luckily, I had golf and my goals to keep me busy.
I still remember sitting at my athletic locker and thinking about all the wonderful things I wanted to accomplish during my first season as a member of the Crimson Tide’s women’s golf team. I was ambitious, too. I jotted down several specific items I thought I could achieve if I worked hard and gave 110% every day. In addition to winning an NCAA event, I was really determined to showcase my talents on the national stage, so I strived to receive freshman-of-the-year, all-conference and All-American honors.
While my list may have been lofty, I was more than ready for the challenge. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been super competitive. That’s what happens when you grow up with three older brothers like I did — everything is a contest! It didn’t matter if we were racing in the pool, chasing each other around the block or playing Monopoly, the stakes were high when self-pride was up for grabs in in the Knight household.
In the end, after a ton of practice and perseverance, I was fortunate enough to finish on top and reach my goals at Alabama.
Now that I’m in the middle of my third year on the LPGA Tour, I still follow the same blueprint I did when I was in college. Before each season, I reflect on my previous goals, assess what went right and what went wrong, and create new ones for the upcoming campaign. My main focus is on finding ways to improve. In fact, I’ve actually adopted the same approach with my money. Each January, I review my personal budget, look at my spending habits, and earmark some extra cash for major purchases or emergencies.
What’s my philosophy?
I like to record goals that are attainable yet make me feel uncomfortable. For example, in 2021, I put down that I wanted to earn a spot on the U.S. roster for the Solheim Cup, a prestigious match-format competition against Europe. It would have been an amazing honor to represent my country in front of so many passionate fans. However, even though I came up short in my quest, I’m very proud of my effort.
Even better, I learned a valuable life lesson that I can take with me as I get older and start thinking more about my future. Having goals has not only helped me overcome adversity, but it’s also helped make me stronger moving forward. I won’t stop chasing my dreams, financially or professionally, when things get tough.
And that’s the name of the game.