When I was a kid I loved playing WW2 flight simulators, especially Aces Over Europe. You got to go on awesome missions and fly a bunch of cool planes, and even though the graphics were lame by today’s standards it all felt pretty slick at the time.
The reason I bring this up is because lately I’ve been thinking about flying missions. No, I’m not dusting off the old CD Rom. But I am finding that the basics of winning there have a lot of crossovers when it comes to winning in life. Allow me to explain.
To advance in the game you had to know your mission, take off successfully, complete your mission, and land safely. Let’s look at each of those as they apply to our daily lives:
1. Know Your Mission
Before leaving the runway you got a briefing on your mission: which areas to patrol, which planes to escort, which targets to bomb, etc. You looked at the map and internalized the flight path. You never just flew for the heck of it.
Do you know what your mission is each day, or do you just roll out of bed and hope for the best? Jesus was crystal clear on his mission and the Bible tells us to be as well.
One of the ways I try to stay on mission is by doing a review at the end of each day. This is a time for me to reflect on how my day went and what needs to be done tomorrow. It helps me engage each day with a plan instead of a panic.
I also try to spend time each morning reviewing who I am, why I’m here, and what matters most. Mornings are an ideal time for me to engage in prayer, worship, and Scripture reading, so I tend to do those before launching into the busyness of the day.
In essence, my reviews serve as my mission briefings. This is the most effective way I’ve found to stay focused on the right things, but it may look different for you. Whatever you do, remember the old adage, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
2. Take Off Successfully
Successful takeoffs were not a given, especially if you were flying a touchy plane. There was a standard sequence you went though to ensure a safe departure.
In real life, your plane is your body. Are you getting enough sleep? Are you exercising regularly? Are you eating a healthy breakfast? This stuff is really basic but many of us neglect it and rush off the runway only to experience an energy crash shortly thereafter.
For me, a successful takeoff involves a predetermined, habitual morning routine:
- Up at a set time. No snooze.
- Bulletproof Coffee.
- Light therapy and binaural beats.
- Prayer and Scripture.
- Recovery drink.
When I do these six things I feel awesome; I know that I am off the runway of life and ready to tackle whatever mission comes my way.
3. Complete Your Mission
Being in flight was fun but it didn’t matter much if you didn’t get the job done. The whole point of the game was to complete your missions so you could help win the war.
Now of course you can see the parallels. You’re not here on accident. God made you for a reason. Each day of your life should have purpose and clarity. God put you on earth to accomplish specific things. Do you know your mission? Are you working towards completing it daily?
I find that using a task-management approach like Getting Things Done in conjunction with an app like Wunderlist has helped me organize my time and priorities around accomplishing my missions. Instead of it all being in my head, it’s all down in writing, which is hugely helpful for me.
It’s also a way to stay honest. Here are my top priorities for today. Did I get them done or not? If not, why not?
What are you doing to get the job done?
4. Land Safely
Achieving your mission was great, but it didn’t matter if you couldn’t make it home safely.
They say that in real flying, landing is one of the most difficult parts. I have found that to be true in real life as well. Many know their mission. Some take off successfully. Few complete their mission. And even fewer land successfully.
This last step is simply about ending well. For me, it boils down to energy management. When my work day is done, I take time to decompress, review, plan ahead, and relax. If I don’t make time for play and rejuvenation then I have much less to offer my wife and kids, which isn’t fair to them or to me. So I try to create a buffer between work and family each day.
My evening routine helps me end well, too:
- Be done eating after dinner.
- Help clean up the house.
- Prep coffee and put out running clothes for tomorrow.
- Spend time with family/put kids to bed.
- Try to avoid blue light after kids are down.
- Take sleep supplements.
- In bed by a set time.
What are you doing to land safely every day?
So there you have it. Now for a bit more nostalgia: