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The 3&1 Exercise: How to build a mental game habit

Measuring your progress is both the most boring thing you can do to improve and the single greatest asset you have to improve. It is both the most underrated and the most essential tool to going from where you are to where you want to be.

Measuring your progress is the quintessential “small in the moment but huge in the aggregate” process. When you look at measurement in the short-term, it’s a few little details that don’t tell you much. But give it a week, a month, and especially a year and it becomes much more than data. It becomes a story. A story with a beginning, middle, and end.

There have been so many tangible ways that I've learned to measure different aspects of my golf game, but I wanted a way to measure progress in my mental game. This has proven to be elusive so far, but the exercise that came closest to being a tangible measurement of mental improvement, and the only exercise that truly changed how I lived my life is what I call 3&1.

Every morning I would list three things I did well the day before, and one thing I plan on improving the day I was writing, and what my specific process was to make that improvement happen. This went far beyond golf. It applied to every part of my life. Because things you did well the day before can be anything. For me it was of course golf, but also “hung out with a friend”, “worked and made some money”, “read a few pages of a book”. Not always huge monumental things, but that’s exactly why this exercise is so important. Because the vast majority of our days are not gigantic milestones being crossed. They’re tiny little victories that over time amount to a sea-change.

Listing three of these good things made me pull out the good of a day, whether I would label the day as a whole as good or bad. Forcing this positivity even in the face of potential negativity gave me the energy to realize I was making progress, even when my feet felt like they were stuck in concrete.

And of course putting onto paper one thing you want to improve for the day is vital, because so often we go into our day with no solidified idea of what we want to accomplish. So giving yourself one thing to specifically work to improve is so much better than nothing. And at the end of the day when you actually improved that thing you can say with confidence that you accomplished a goal, and that small goal will hopefully help you down the path toward your huge goal.

So if there’s one thing I can recommend to start implementing into your life today, it’s listing three good things from yesterday, and one thing you want to improve today, and the specific process it’s going to take to improve it.

(This practice that I call 3&1 was given to me by Robert Linville at Precision Golf School who saw it in the book Organize Tomorrow Today by Jason Selk, Matthew Rudy, and Tom Bartow.)


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