I love to travel. I love to fly. And, I LOVE the window seat! 

I took this photo above during my flight back from Merida, MX (pardon the resolution). Immediately afterward, I knew what I wanted to write about for today’s piece: airplanes, your 2023 goals, and the impact of financial trauma. 

At first blush, this may seem an odd concatenation. Yet, when it comes to putting in the work to manifest our goals, there is much you and I share in common with pilots navigating a plane from point A to point B. Including how they respond to turbulence.

Before You Take Flight

Before you even board a plane, the pilot and his/her co-pilot have created a detailed flight plan. This plan takes into consideration a multitude of variables like the weather where you are, where you are going, and in-between, fuel, time of day for your departure and arrival, expected length of the flight, and more. 

Before your airplane backs away from the gate (aka: your starting point), the pilot announces the destination to which the plane is traveling and the approximate arrival time. This announcement reminds you of where the plane is headed (aka: your ending point, even if that isn’t your final destination). But without any specific details of how you’ll get there. 

There are several parallels to draw from what I’ve just described: 

First, a lot happens BEFORE you are even up in the air! 

The same is true for whatever are your goals for 2023. 

You know your starting point; you know the end point you’re striving toward; you might even be aware of a few milestones in between. And even though you don’t know all the details of how you’ll accomplish your goals, there is definitely a lot that happens before you even start to work on them. 

Second, the planning work of the pilot is invisible to you. 

Again, the same is true when it comes to your goals. Your planning won’t be noticed by many – even those who may likely benefit from your vision, goals, and the effort you put toward them.

Up in The Air

While you and I are settled in our seats – reading, watching a movie, working, sleeping, or chatting up our seat-mate – the pilot and co-pilot are:

  • Scanning the horizon for traffic, 
  • Communicating with air traffic controllers and flight crew, 
  • Making sure the equipment is working as it should, 
  • Calculating fuel burns (as they say in the industry),
  • Confirming the weather conditions ahead haven’t changed, dramatically,
  • Making navigational decisions that may vary from the original flight plan, 
  • Managing our expectations and behavior when the plane encounters turbulence, and
  • So much more…

This incomplete list of activities remind us that even with the automation of some aspects of flying, piloting a plane is far from a passive undertaking.  

Nor is it a solo-endeavor. It requires a team, all of whom are focused on the same thing: arriving at the destination, safely.

Likewise, pilots anticipate that their original flight plan may need to be altered…in an instant. As such, they always have back-up plans that they’ve practiced. (Remember Captain Sully?!)

When it comes to your goals, you are the pilot. 

And as you already know, there’s nothing passive about going after your goals! 🙂

Thus, the equivalent of “scanning the horizon,” is aligning each of your goals to the vision you have for your life, your business, and your money. What’s your system for doing this?

Who is on your team? Who do you need to enlist for support with manifesting your goals? Have you communicated what they need to know and do to best help you? 

What type of “equipment” do you need? If it is technology or software, is what you are currently using sufficient, or will you need to tweak or upgrade anything? If you go the non-tech route, have you created checklists for easy check-ins? 

You may not be burning fuel as you go about achieving your goals, but you are “burning” something. It may be money or energy or creativity or time, or a combination of any or all of these resources. How are you tracking the “fuel” you’ll need and that you’re using? 

The equivalent of weather conditions are your surroundings, e.g., your family and friends, your home, your clients and vendors, your money (in general, and your revenue and cashflow, specifically). For each of these, what are your systems for managing when these “surroundings” change in expected and unexpected ways?

It’s one thing to have a goal and quite another to create a plan to manifest it. More often than not, though, plans rarely unfold as you initially envisioned. Some variable is bound to change to cause you to modify your initial plan. That’s why it is always better to have plans B, C, and possibly D at the ready to execute when necessary. Have you prepared your back-up plans?

Pilots anticipate they’ll encounter turbulence. Do you prepare for the challenges you’ll inevitably bump up against as you go from a goal unfulfilled to a goal achieved?

When it comes to your goals, turbulence can also look like the financial trauma you’re carrying. How are the things you’re afraid of; the mistakes you’ve made; the decisions you’re not proud of – how are these silently, yet profoundly, affecting how you approach your goals? In other words, what are you doing to avoid getting in your own way?

“Flight Attendants Prepare for Landing”

The experience of flying is other-worldly for me. I am in awe of the airplane itself and with the work of everyone – particularly the pilots, crew (in-flight and on the ground), air-traffic controllers – and with everything that has to go right to get me to my destination. 

And when you hear, “flight attendants prepare for landing,” you know you’re about to land. Yet, the flight isn’t over until the plane is at the gate. Regarding my analogy, this is when the goal has been reached. For me, “prepare for landing” equals “prepare for success.” 

The saying “stay ahead of the plane” is pilot talk for always being a step ahead at every step of the journey, which includes before you even get in the air. 

The way I see it, it is apropo for you and me when it comes to goals, too.

So, ”stay ahead of your goals” may be a good mantra to heed throughout the year :).

p.s. Tragically, earlier this morning, there was a plane crash in Nepal where 68 people died. My decision to go ahead and publish tonight does not diminish my sympathies to the families of the deceased.

p.p.s. Tomorrow we commemorate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It reminds me that visions, dreams, and goals are more than just words in your head or on paper. Making them part of your reality requires action, flexibility, and grace.

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