Not to long ago someone explained to me how the auto-pilot system of an airplane functions. I have always been under the impression that the auto-pilot maintained all the system controls at a specified position keeping the plane going straight. I was mistaken. It seems that if a plane were to maintain constant controls such as speed it would eventually go off course because the elements working on and with the plane are not constant. The wind, pressure, air density, etc are always changing. For this reason the auto-pilot program is nothing more than a “constant correctional, re-alignment system.” Every second as the plane moves against gravity and the elements the auto-pilot system makes adjustments in the controls in order to maintain the correct course.
In our spiritual, mental, emotional, physical, and professional lives we are also beat upon by the elements. If we continue to maintain the same course by doing the exact same things all the time we will over time be beat off course by the elements of the world. We must each create an auto-pilot program which in effect is a lifelong “constant correctional, re-alignment system.” A series of rituals and habits that help us re-commit, re-align, and re-focus ourselves on our own goals.
Here are a series of ideas that I would suggest can help each of us stay on the straight and narrow path leading to our goals.
- Reflect on the past. When we remember the lessons we have learned in the past it tends to strengthen our commitment to the future. The key to reflecting on the past is in record keeping. We must first keep a record of the now so we will have something to reflect on later. Traditionally we tend to think of record keeping in the form of a written journal. While I believe in the importance of keeping a written journal I have tried to teach the importance of all types of records. Picture albums, home videos, blogs, school projects, emails, family newsletters and many other forms of record keeping can play an important role in keeping track of the past if organized in such a way that allows for it to be reviewed in the future. In addition to keeping the record we must also reflect upon it. I know many people who keep a separate journal just for more emotional and special events. This facilitates future reflection upon the events that shape our lives.
- Plan for the future. The greatest reason why most fail to reach their goals is because of the lack of a plan of action. Reaching your goals will never come any closer to reality until you establish the necessary steps required to achieve them. On a very regular basis you need to sit down and look at where you are in relation to your goals. You need to set weekly, and daily action steps that will take you closer. I recommend a strong weekly planning session in which you plan for the following week’s activities. Such a planning session if done correctly should last at least an hour. Short daily planning sessions will also help you stay on track during the week.
- Participate in regular renewal activities. Search out activities that remind you why you are doing what you are doing. Religious worship tends to help you re-align with your deepest purpose. Company & industry conventions and parties help you remember the best practices in your business. Seminars, vacations, business trips, and other events that break up routine always help you “wake up” from the elements that have been dragging you off course.
After you have decided on your purpose & goals, and have committed yourself to success, remember to consistently put yourself in an auto pilot program of constant re commitment. While rituals are important they can bring you down if you don’t search out ways of bringing yourself back to the center line.
Jacob S. Paulsen