As an older amateur hoping to compete again after over a decade, there are a number of hurdles I've come across and identified that will face me going forward that I either didn't know existed or don't know how to navigate. Having a good coach; someone who is willing to not only teach you the game but also the dynamics, the thinking, the politics, and most importantly stick with you through the difficult improvement and development process, is one of the most important things I've found thus far in this journey. Another is the importance of setting goals, whether they be short term and miniscule such as "no 3 putts this round" to more grandiose as "place in the top 10 in a future tournament".
Setting goals in golf, or in life for that matter, is an important tool that isn't always taken advantage of as often or as efficiently as it could be. Small goals can help build confidence round to round, even shot to shot, and with these small victories comes confidence and belief that the next time the same situation is faced, it will be overcome. These small goals can help lead to laying the foundation for reaching those large goals which may be further in the future or long term in nature such as dropping to a single digit handicap. Some examples from my own game to help provide context is to score at least one birdie in any given round, to make solid contact on every shot regardless of result, and to make at least 8 greens in regulation. By setting these realistic, specific, and measurable goals I give myself a bar to reach and keep me focused on the task at hand during the round while building confidence with every shot and small victory I achieve in reaching these goals. If I don't reach these goals, the consequences are not very severe as I can just try again the next round I play whereas only having a long term goal can be a crushing blow to confidence, drive, and desire if not achieved.
Whatever the case may be, setting goals, big and small, can be an incredibly powerful and effective tool in golf that I have found works for me. As I head into the winter season, I am continuing to set new goals on a daily basis in every practice session which will hopefully lead to the long term goal waiting at the end of the tunnel. At the end of the day, whether or not a goal is reached is inconsequential, it is the journey towards that goal which is the ultimate result as each journey teaches us something new and helps us develop a little more each time.