Every child at some point or other has always wanted to become a pilot. So did I, when I was a kid. And like most of us, we ended up in the usual professions we see around us. One aspect that continued to fascinate me in aviation was not the planes flying at 35,000 ft, but the huge bunch on controls and systems in the cockpit. The yokes, radar systems, and pilots sitting down to chart out the “flight plan”.

Recent Dragon crew launch by SpaceX and NASA got me interested in achievements in space exploration. And that got me down the rabbit hole of watching a lot of documentaries on Apollo missions.

Aviation and space exploration have fascinated me in two aspects — execution of a vision and the need for a course-correction. President Kennedy was a true leader in the sense that he was able to impart a vision to the entire nation and the world. And conviction was so strong that the vision came to life even after he was assassinated. And the target was achieved before the deadline set by that vision. Story of the first human flight has been nothing short of revolutionary too. After the first minute-long or so of flight by Wright brothers, the first commercial aircraft made its flight within the first 20–30 years.

About 85% of the flights would not make it to their destination if it were not for the Air Traffic control and other navigational systems. Even most sophisticated systems like Apollo modules never managed to stay on its course for about 95% of its flight. It too required constant course correction by the crew and mission control.

What got me thinking was — even such advanced systems built for a single purpose needs a plan for its path. And then apply course correction over the duration of its flight. We as humans need it more than those systems.

Unlike aircraft and space rockets, we have way too many sensory inputs — physical and psychological. And over that complex, yet beautiful physiology that enables us to receive those inputs. It’s natural we tend to lose focus on the goals we have set out to achieve. Lot of us do set goals for ourselves, but we may not do a very good job (including myself) of tracking where we are, and course-correct if necessary.

Setting and writing down a goal does set you apart from the majority of the crowd. But keeping a good tracking system to keep a check on where we are, and where we are going would definitely give us that slight edge.

Journalling definitely has been one tool that helped me keep a simple yet effective system to achieve that. I keep a few checklists of things which I need to ensure they’re done before the end of the day. Then reflect and introspect on those on how well I have done in those areas.

This is a simple, yet powerful concept that can make a significant change in our lives. And on a further study, we’ll find that these are the characteristics of achievers in any field — sports, business, education, you name it.

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