Did you know that on a long haul flight, the plane is off course almost the entire journey?
Before taking off the pilot has their starting point, their flight plan that shows the route, and the destination they are aiming for.
After taking off, the aeroplane starts to deviate from the flight plan. Because of all the changes in air pressure, because of all the different winds as the plane climbs to higher altitudes, it gets blown off course constantly.
So the pilot has to make continuous mid course corrections towards the desired destination. The plane gets back on the flight plan for a while and then gets blown off course again.
I share this with you today because I have found this analogy so so helpful when working towards my own goals.
I wrote an article recently explaining how I use horizontal time.
I believe horizontal time is the master key to achieving long term goals, and feeling like you are making progress has an enormous impact on our happiness and positivity.
The chances are you didn’t finish school and then sit in a dark room with your iPad on your own until you came up with your long term goals.
More likely is that you started living and then thought of some things that you would like to do.
By that time though you find yourself with a full schedule. Maybe you’re married and have kids, maybe you have a full time job, maybe you have charitable commitments or any one of the other multitude of things that demand our time and attention.
So given that most people will have this kind of packed schedule already, you’ll likely find it near impossible to carve out a good chunk of time to work towards your goals.
You might find a chunk now and again but the gaps between them may be so wide that when you look at the amount of time you have been at it vs the progress you’ve made, I’m willing to bet its not been that productive.
It was when I found myself in that very situation that I knew I needed to change my approach. ‘Stressed out’ is not a very resourceful state at all.
‘If what you are doing isn’t working change it.‘
It was my discovery of horizontal time combined with the quote ‘success is a few simple disciplines practiced every day’ that gave me a lightbulb moment.
How do you keep your teeth clean?
You clean them every day for a short period of time!
When we first launched this site I decided that I would publish one new article per week.
Now blogging best practice says that you should be posting about three times a week. Not impossible, but that for me would have required more time resource than I had available.
So I stuck to my plan of one per week. Another one of my philosophies is that you have to set middle way targets.
The ideal would be three per week but I didn’t feel I could allocate that much time to one task, while one per month would have been too easy.
One per month probably would have resulted in failure because it would have been too easy.
So I settled on once per week, a bit of a stretch but I felt it was the perfect balance.
So far it’s working pretty well. I’m just about keeping up with the writing schedule and it’s not causing me to neglect my other commitments (the other key of course is not to overcommit).
I knew that if I could guarantee to put in just 30 minutes per day, every day, I would have put my goal on autopilot.
I might not make as much progress, as quickly, but I’m more interested in guaranteeing that I’m consistent.
Because you don’t tend to notice as fast time flies, when you put a task on autopilot like this I find you make great progress.
Using this approach, progress is assured. Trying to find 3.5 hours in one go to work on it would have been so much more difficult.
Jim Rohn said ‘everything by longevity tends to get off course’.
Jim Rohn also says ‘the same wind blows on us all’.
Yet, as long as the course keeps getting corrected to move back to the flight plan, you get to your destination.
I have integrated this into my system to keep the consistency.
Say like recently I had to go to Paris for a couple of days. I didn’t have an Internet connection until I got back, so I’d missed two writing sessions.
That’s ok, I’d been blown off course so what did I do? I got right back on it.
The next day when I got up at 5.30, I sat down at my dining table with with my breakfast and continued writing like everything was normal.
The beauty of the system I’ve setup is that it doesn’t take 3.5 hours to write one blog post. So I’ve allowed more time than necessary.
The reason I did that though was to build in some margin for when disruptions come. I knew sooner or later I’d have a day were I’d not be able to put in my 30 minutes.
The good thing is I’ve built success right in. Most of the time I get a post written in 2.5, sometimes 3 hours. This leaves 30 minutes extra which I use to start writing the next one so I am ahead of the game.
This way I’m banking time in advance rather than playing catch up when the wind inevitable blows me off course.
The system is my autopilot. It automatically gets me back on course because that’s what it’s designed to do.
The success or failure of it though came before I even set off. It was the decisions I made about how often I was going to post and then how much time per day I could be sure I could put in consistently.
And that is thanks in no small part to good use of horizontal time (and a bit of discipline).