I find myself very conflicted on the motto of “Dream Big” but also understanding in a setting like college recruiting what it can lead to through the process if you aren’t realistic in your dreams and goals. If you have such a high standard for where you want to play college golf but physically, mentally, or maturity wise you aren’t able to reach that dream, then you will end up feeling like the opportunities you have aren’t good enough or you won’t even give yourself the chance to find opportunities that will allow you to succeed in college golf.

Yes, I hope you all have big dreams! Whether it’s golf related, or your academics, or your future career, whatever it is – DREAM BIG! As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago I had a BIG dream when I was just 8 or 9 years old that I wanted to play on the LPGA Tour. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to live out that dream but as you can probably guess, given that I am here writing this, that didn’t end up being the most successful career. I wouldn’t go back and change my dream as a kid for anything, but I definitely would have changed the process I took getting there.

Dreams and goals are two different things, at least in my own opinion, which is what I want to share this week. Dreams are these long terms visions of what we want to do or accomplish in the future. Goals are things you can be doing in the present and short-term. These are daily actions that lead to more immediate results and help you stay on track to possibly achieve that big dream that you set for yourself.

Setting your dreams big early into this process is fine, but as you get closer and closer to the end, you have to reconsider what is going to be realistic. You have to give yourself a true reality check and accept that you may need to readjust your plan. This doesn’t mean that you may not still be able to achieve your big dream or that you can’t actually eventually set an even bigger one for later on, but it does mean that you have to be more realistic about your current situation and goals.

And as you tackle the process day in and day out you have to stay more focused on your shorter terms goals and how well you are working to achieve those in the present tense. If you are focused on those goals and actions, then you are doing all you can to reach whatever ends up being your big dream.

For instance, maybe your goal as a 7th or 8th grader is to play at a school that is a top 25 program in the country and you are considering playing professionally after college. For whatever reason, you work hard and feel that you are doing all the right things, but by junior year you realize that school and many other top 25 programs aren’t interested in you. Your game and resume just aren’t there yet. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have failed. It just means that you need to find a new path to reach a different shorter term goal.

So you readjust and decide that a mid-ranked DI program or a top DII or top DIII program is more realistic. You find that school with a great coach and end up being one of the best players on the team, you win tournaments, earn All-American honors and compete at the national championship (maybe as an individual). Now that dream of playing professionally is more of a reality and you have 3-4 years of very competitive experience to lead you into that process, whereas you may have not even played much at that top 25 ranked program you were dreaming of back in 7th and 8th grade.

I can attest that I played collegiately and professionally with some of the best players in college golf who had played on the top-ranked college programs in the country and many of them never won Symetra Tour events, or finish top on the money list or ever earned LPGA status. I also played professionally with some girls who came from schools that I had never even heard of when I was in college. But they had been the best player on their team and won collegiate events. And many of those players won Symetra Tour events, finished high on the money list and went on to earn LPGA status and give themselves a chance to compete with the best players in the world.

So while I am a huge believer in having Big Dreams and I love to do evals or talk with girls who have those same types of dreams because I can certainly relate to them myself, but many times those girls become so stubborn on having to achieve their big dream or else they feel like a failure that they lose sight of the daily and short terms goals that could actually get them there as well. Sometimes they skip the necessary steps in the process to win local and state tournaments, before jumping into bigger regional and national events. They think they “have” to have those on their resume in order to play at their dream school. They try to force it because they think they need to prove they can achieve that dream when in reality their game, whether physically or mentally, just isn’t there yet. Or maybe deep down their priorities or desire isn’t what it was back when they were in 7th or 8th grade.

Whatever it may be, it’s ok if you have to give yourself a reality check and readjust to ensure you have the opportunities to still be successful on whatever path that ends up being. Don’t be afraid to dream big but also don’t be afraid to check your ego and focus on what it more realistic in the present day.