The irony of not reaching our goals usually comes from the smallest of errors. We launch off into the wild blue yonder with heated emotion and a clear vision. Then, day after day we find that the easy things to do are the easiest not to do. We slowly drift away… we know it’s the set of our sail that gets us to the destination, but, as with all things that we create, we don’t do it perfectly. So what do we do?
I got caught up in this alternate history show about NASA and a different space race. One where USSR gets to the moon first, they get a lab in space, and so on; it’s thought provoking and I find the characters to be well thought out and developed in the story.
There was this one scene where they launch a shuttle to the moon, and they lose communications with Houston. They are freaking out because they were on a rescue mission after the Russians attacked the US station on the moon. The Flight Director of JSC (Johnson Space Center) is calmly explaining to NASA’s administrator that you don’t just launch a vehicle to the moon like shooting a gun at it and then just riding the bullet all the way there. Throughout the trip, there are dozens of delta-Vs maneuvers that the pilot has to perform all along the ride. Calculations are close but not perfect she explains… without communications with JSC, the shuttle was currently going to miss getting into the moon’s orbit by a few hundred miles. And, if that happened. they’d shoot off into the void. The delta-Vs are done to course correct, they are plotting each mile the spacecraft travels–and they check quite often, the course computers are calculating the projected course multiple times a second to be sure.
So let’s take a minute to step back and think just a second about this, and let’s look at some other examples to solidify the idea that we need to constantly course correct. I’m also going to tell you how I was taught to do it.
Ever watch golf? I know, boring. But watch the golfers and the caddies, they are looking at little books, testing the wind, they are constantly getting inputs from wherever they can so they can track their progress along the course. They write down everything, they record everything. They come up with a plan for almost every play and they execute. The difference between the best player on the PGA and the 2nd best is literally a few strokes, seconds of time, the margins are crazy.
I could go on all day–the professional _______ (you fill in the blank) stock broker, teacher, mechanic, pilot–the high performing people who do these jobs are certainly logging, reviewing and tracking progress to make small course corrections throughout their jobs and journeys. It’s how they get better.
There are many financial gurus out there that tell you to track everything about your spending. This is something I do myself, I write with pen and paper every penny that I spend on myself and family. I just got a new moleskin notebook set up this morning to do that. I also track my time, I am tracking my time down to 30 minute blocks, that reminds me that I need to do it now.
Let’s get to the why, why track? Well, we need data to draw conclusions… that’s the data scientist in me coming out. In other words, we need to measure things to grow them. We need to build awareness–I’d argue that most of us need to have a hyper-awareness about our behaviors and things at first, so we open our eyes and see what we are actually doing. Whatever we track we have the ability to grow, if we don’t track it we really can’t systematically grow that thing.
You want to have better finances, track your spending. To the penny, do this for a week and you’ll be in. Do it right after you spend. It might keep you from buying that 6.00 coffee you don’t need, just because you don’t want to write it down. You want a better relationship with your significant other, track your progress–write down the things you’re doing to make the relationship better, then write down the result… it’s not hard… it’s easy to do, and therefore easy not to do.
This stuff isn’t magic, it’s discipline, it’s mindfulness, it’s staying in the moment and considering the things that you do every minute of the day. If you end up at the end of the day and you can’t remember what you did, well… that’s just sad in my opinion. I can’t remember sometimes, that’s why I’m recording it on a little piece of paper that’s sitting in my pocket.
If you do this you’ll know what to do, just give it a shot. You really have nothing to lose. Try it for a week, track your behaviors and see what happens. You might not be able to make any excuses about why something isn’t done if you have a lot of watching TV, reading Twitter, or other things that are just distracting you from making it happen.
Little things mean a lot. It takes two air molecules to hit each other someplace over the Atlantic Ocean to start a hurricane. It takes a little rock or snowball to start rolling down a snow-filled mountain to start an avalanche, it only takes a spark to start a forest fire. I know this all sounds super cliche, but the fact is, we need to do the little things to make the big things happen in our life.
Have a great Tuesday! Sending you love, good vibes and hope. Let’s go get it!