Most of us know what it is like to have a bad dream. Ever have a nightmare you know is a dream and you try to wake yourself up but can’t? It can stir emotion so intense, the upheaval is felt long after we wake up.
There are experiences in life so surreal they feel like a dream. Sometimes really good moments we longingly attempt to cling to even after they pass. Traumatic events may seem surreal, unfolding in what feels like painfully slow motion. Waking up from real life experiences, especially those involving trauma, can create mental shifts resulting in unsteadiness. Often, with or without our awareness, we move to a place of internal turmoil resulting in loss of direction and focus.
Over the last few months, I have been learning about jet aviation from a dear friend who spent several decades flying big jets all over the world. As I was learning how pilots keep airplanes in the sky, it occurred to me life management is similar. Avoiding a “stall” is foundational. If an aircraft stays in a stall, it falls. If we get caught in a stall, our quality of life dramatically decreases. Inaction in both scenarios means destruction. As the “pilot” of our lives, we must tend to essential areas of life to stay balanced and on course. If we find ourselves in a stall, knowing how to recover is extremely important.
In aviation, a stall means the smooth air flow over and across the wing gets disturbed. The airplane will fall out of the sky unless the situation is corrected. The “angle of attack” has been exceeded. The angle of attack is a small operating margin that must be maintained to avoid a stall. Staying airborne depends on the proper angle made by the leading edge of the wing and the relative wind (air) that it meets. The correction is the same on all airplanes: You need to lower the nose to get some speed back and get the wings level.
In order for a flight to be successful, several components must be available and fully operational. The aircraft must be mechanically sound with necessary updated equipment for safety. Proper training for the crew is needed to assimilate new developments in the industry. Flight plans must be accurately followed yet modified when unforeseen factors emerge . Regulating speed while considering external variables, like wind and weather, must be managed with expertise throughout the flight. Developing, maintaining and committing to routine checklists allows the crew to enjoy the ride confident all is in order. Being aware of potential hazards also keeps the crew centered on maintaining that small operating margin ensuring a smooth and safe flight.
As individuals, we must identify our “angle of attack” to avoid a stall and to recover from a stall. It is in that zone we enjoy life to the fullest. In order to completely engage in life, we must tend to and manage various details of our journey. This includes: understanding what our physical body needs (the mechanical integrity of the aircraft), lifelong learning (keeping up with new developments within the industry), determining goals (flight plan), maintaining rhythm (regulating proper speed), monitoring external forces influencing decisions (wind speed and direction), choosing healthy relationships (dependable competent crew) and knowing how and where to keep our proper focal point (wing flaps, ailerons and rudders to point the nose accurately).
Many times in life it becomes necessary to intentionally review where we spend our energy. In 2017, I invite you to join me and together we can look at how to achieve a well established “angle of attack” to avoid a stall. Then, if on our journey we find ourselves in a stall, we will have everything in place to recover from the stall.
Here are some areas we will explore together:
1. Taking care of our physical body
2. Careers: Including paid or unpaid
3. Resources: Including but not limited to finances
4. Family and Social Interaction: Determining how to step in and out of relationships
5. Life long learning
6. Embracing Spirituality
7. Leisure Activity: Identify a list of interests to pursue for recharging