Fly a good approach

I had a great morning today; got up early, got in an early run, had a good breakfast, showered, and got to Starbucks right when they opened. Then I had a few hours of really productive work. All in all, a fantastic start to the week. And it was really pretty easy, but not because of anything I did today; more because of what I did last night.

I planned out my morning, made sure I had stuff for breakfast, decided what time I was getting up, read before bed to relax, and went to bed at a good time so I’d get plenty of sleep.

It got me thinking about how we often make key decisions before we realize we’ve made them. It felt this morning like I was being really productive and making good decisions. And on some level, I was. But on another level, I was just landing after a good approach.

Let me explain.

I’m in the process of getting my pilot’s license, and in the first half of the student pilot training, you spend a lot of time learning how to land. The process for landing at an airport involves calling the tower when you’re a few miles out and letting them know you’d like to land. They give you instructions on how to enter the pattern, which is an imaginary box in the sky around the airport. You fly around the edge of this imaginary box and then land on the runway. When you fly this box, it’s called flying the approach.

The thing my instructors have stressed is that a great landing is all about a great approach. If you set the plane up with a great approach, it’ll almost land itself. On the other hand, if you fly a bad approach, it’s very difficult or impossible to pull off a good landing. Bad landings are almost always preceded by a lousy approach.

I think a lot of life is like this. We make our decisions ahead of time in many ways; true, it’s almost never too late to fix things. I could have gone to bed at 2am and gotten up early, but it wouldn’t have been a productive day at all. Setting things up in advance makes future decisions and achievements much more frictionless.

Building good habits are an example of flying a good approach. Running up a bunch of debt is a good example of flying a bad approach. Most people who are fighting to keep their home from foreclosure because they have too much debt and lost their job have already lost their home. They just don’t know it yet. They made the decision that new cars or vacations on the credit card were more important, and now they’re in for a rough landing.

What decisions are you making now that are setting yourself up for a good or bad landing later?