It's been said that between takeoff and landing, airline pilots are off course over 90% of the time. Along the route, their job is not so much staying on course, but to make an ongoing series of micro corrections that will bring them back in line to land at the precise point they want to.
But imagine what it would be like if they didn’t make those corrections. What if they deviated a few degrees upon take off, and continued on the wrong course until the flight was over?
After all, it's just a few degrees… Right? How big a difference could it make? Well, anyone who has studied physics can tell you that a few degrees' change over time can result in a huge deviation at the endpoint. The longer the flight, the greater the deviation.
It's a lot like when I was in the military and we had to navigate cross country. You determine what direction you have go and set your compass for the correct azimuth. The trouble is…you just can't walk miles in a straight line. You have mountains, lakes, all sorts of stuff in your path. You are going to have to get off track every once in awhile. The trick is to be aware of it and get back on the right track as soon as possible.
Let's transfer this analogy to your life. Get off track at the beginning of your goal, and you may never recover. Meanwhile if you're nearly there, a few wrong turns won’t do much damage.
Review your progress through this lens. At what point in the trajectory of your goal did you get off track? At take off, landing, or somewhere in the middle? And when you got off course, which direction did you head? Maybe you were brought to a standstill, dead in the water. Maybe you actually went backwards. Maybe you got pulled to one side or another, distracted by another goal or issue.
After you know which direction you went, the next logical question is why you strayed. What was it that grabbed your attention? Was it an emergency in another area of your business, or an attractive project that promised more return on investment? Or maybe you got scared and stopped the project, or took a few steps backward, convinced that you need more research or information before you could move ahead.
Identifying where you went off track and why are great pieces of information as you move forward into other goals.