One of the many Andersen-clan quotes comes from the original Star Wars. In the battle to destroy the Deathstar, a fighter pilot is nearing the drop point yet is feeling the pressure to abort. Understandable. Darth Vader is bearing down on him—I hate when that happens. But the commander calmly yet firmly issues the order, “Stay on target. Stay on target!”
We’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of “Stay on target!” over the years. No matter what worthwhile goal you set, there will always be something that causes you to veer from the charted course.
I’ve been a goal setter for years. My tendency, however, is to set a magnanimous goal, make the plan, then get discouraged when my plan gets disrupted.
Or, I get frustrated with myself when I don’t stay true to the ideal schedule I’ve planned to reach my goal. For example, I set a goal to get up every day at an early hour, enjoy several days success, then after a couple weeks notice that I’ve only hit the mark nine days out of the last fourteen.
Too many of us feel the same way about our performance as a parent or a spouse. We want a great marriage, a great relationship with our kids, a great family culture. But the messiness of everyday life can often cloud our opinion of our performance. We tend to focus on what’s not going right instead of the overall progress.
How can we be assured that we’ll achieve our long-term goals when it seems like we have so many setbacks?
The hope lies in consistent course corrections.
I learned this valuable lesson from one of my virtual mentors, Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. He uses the analogy of an airliner taking off from one city towards another. Even with sophisticated electronics guiding it, the airliner is off course ever so slightly the majority of the flight. And yet, it arrives at its intended destination on time.
Being just one degree off course over a long distance would put the plane many miles off course if uncorrected. The key phrase here is “if uncorrected.” Fortunately, a good pilot is constantly monitoring and making slight adjustments as necessary to keep the plane on course. So even though he could say he’s not a very good pilot because he’s technically off course a huge portion of the time, we’d say the opposite if we arrive on time where we intended.
Chances are you are doing a better job in your home than you think you are.
You may feel off course more times than not; however, if you are constantly making course corrections, you’ll reach your destination.
Here are a few important things to keep in mind to stay on target:
- Know your target. An old Norwegian proverb says, “No wind is the right wind when you don’t know to which harbor you’re sailing.” So many people who complain about what they don’t have can’t really tell you what they do want! What do you want your family life to be like? How do you envision the relationship between you and your children even when they have their own families?
Regularly monitor your progress. Determine some doable checkpoints along the way to evaluate your progress. Perhaps a couple key questions to ask yourself during a weekly planning time. Or maybe a set time each month to talk with your spouse. Use this to evaluate whatever: marriage relationship, kids’ manners, family financial goals, etc. What gets measured and monitored gets managed.
Consistency is the key. My favorite fable is the tortoise and the hare. Every adult should read it about every six months. Slow and steady wins the race. Plod on, plod on, plod on. You may have a day or a week where you don’t feel on target at all. Just keep at it. Bumps come along the way for everyone. The real question is: What characterizes you? You may be known as a wonderful homemaker yet you feel your home is not picked up most of the time. The fact that you consistently get everyone to tidy up means overall you are a doing a better job than what you think.
“Stay on target. Stay on target!” Even though you may feel off course more times than not, if you constantly monitor and make adjustments along the way, you’ll reach your destination. Celebrate every win along the way – no matter how seemingly insignificant.
Question: What do you find helpful in staying on target? Share your answer in the comments below.