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  • Writer's pictureH. Rick Goff

The Uncluttered Mind

Updated: Apr 15, 2021

During a round of golf, a friend mentioned a phrase he heard reference a backup quarterback who played an amazing playoff game that his team won. The backup quarterback didn't worry about expectations or the next game. He was focused on the now of the current game, played in the moment, and was the key to winning the game for his team. One of his teammates said his performance was the "product of an uncluttered mind".

This reminded me of when I first started playing golf, how once I learned the basic mechanics of how to swing, I played really well because my mind was free of any distractions and my philosophy was to simply hit the ball at the hole; my mind was uncluttered. I never had visions of grandeur of playing on the PGA tour, I played in the now and just wanted to enjoy the sport. It's weird how the more I learned about the game i.e., the nuances to include how to read the greens, how to shape shots, and how to "manage a course"; the more complicated it got. I thought this information was important and I needed to understand these aspects of the game if I wanted to play better. But for me, all this so- called important information was really clutter that made me overthink, and not trust my swing or my shots. It shook my confidence, but the worst part was that it took much of the joy out of the game for me. At this point, I decided to quit studying the game and went back to just playing the game, in short, I uncluttered my mind! Once I uncluttered my mind and went back to simply hitting the ball at the hole, my confidence came back and the game became fun again.

An uncluttered mind allows you to give yourself the benefit of the doubt and helps you to focus on what is important to you in a particular moment or phase of your life. With an uncluttered mind you focus on the right things at the right time. It keeps you from getting sidetracked and distracted by "stuff" that may seem like important information, but in reality, is just clutter to you. The uncluttered mind keeps you in the now and always brings you back to your true north. It provides a clear path to your proper perspective on matters that affect you and keeps you from getting bogged down in the details and suffering from "analysis paralysis". An uncluttered mind helps you to make well thought out decisions and prepares you to deal with their consequences, no matter what. Stop studying and reading about the game and start playing your game! Make the decisions you make in your life the "product of an uncluttered mind". You can accomplish much more when you have an uncluttered mind to keep you from overthinking your shots!


About 5 years ago I uncluttered my mind. I went on a physical and mental "walk-about" to take inventory of what was left on the shelf after 35 years of giving all I had to providing for my family, trying to climb the corporate ladder, trying to make a difference, and hoping I was setting a good example for others to follow. It was not an easy exercise because some clutter masked itself as important stuff and this made it hard for me to let it go. But over time (and many long hikes), I was able to free myself from worrying about things I couldn't control and rid myself of things that didn't add to the fabric of my life. I was fortunate that my kids were grown, gone and living their lives and I was semi-retired and no longer had the pressure of work. I had a clear path to an uncluttered mind but I still had to take the steps to make it happen. Deleting the clutter helped me prepare for the third quarter of my life with an open mind and clear perspective of what I needed to enjoy this phase of my life. The freedom of my uncluttered mind allows me to live in the moment and focus on the things and the people that are important to me.

BTW--I'm still not a good golfer but I sure have fun playing the game!

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