According to some historians, the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions got its start just a few years before the Wright Brothers (about 2,000 years before, in fact). But the practice has kept a hold on people’s imaginations ever since, and pilots are no different. (While we all love to make resolutions, keeping them, I've discovered, is decidedly less popular.)
Now the the traditional way to make such promises to oneself is to make a list of goals for the coming year and then assiduously work at accomplishing them.
And, based on a number of conversations I’ve had with a few friends and family members, it’s clear that the way we conceive and implement our resolutions is a highly personal affair.
Even the number of goals on the annual to-do list varies widely, from one big one—like being better with money—to a dozen or more.
My approach to New Year’s resolutions has always been a bit different from most folks. Instead of setting out to accomplish all of my goals, I set a large number of them, keeping them all in mind and seeing what will happen. Sometimes things come up that prevent you from working on one or more of them. The Great American Novel has made many of my lists over the years yet remains unwritten, at least by me. Just off the top of my head, I’d guess that I accomplish about a quarter to a third of my goals, which I see as a huge success rate. The ones I don’t accomplish usually get shuttled off to next year’s list, like running a marathon this year, or crossed off all together, like getting a second dog—one dog, we’ve determined, is plenty of dogs for us.
I have a much higher rate of success with my aviation goals, in part because they are such a crucial part of my life, as I’m sure they are for most Flying readers. I would like to, for instance, do a better job of keeping my logbook up to date. I will accomplish this goal in 2011; I have no doubt. Others are a little dreamy, and I choose not to share them, as I don’t want the pressure of feeling as though I have to accomplish all of my goals. It takes all of the fun out of dreaming. I’ll let you know when I do them.
I will share one goal that makes my list every year and that just about every year I succeed at: to fly with greater precision. I like to think I’m a far more precise flyer than I used to be, but I’m also honest enough with myself to know that there’s a lot of room for improvement. (For those of you who don’t think this is the case, here’s a goal for you: try being more honest with yourself.)
What goals are on your list? To get that instrument rating—I’d strongly encourage every pilot to check this one off. A friend of mine just earned hers, and I’m very proud of her. I have no doubt that she will fly differently with far greater utility than before. Another goal on many pilots list of resolutions is to simply fly more. This one can be tough in tough economic times, I know. But there are creative ways to accomplish this. Fly with friends. Partner up. Fly something slower and more affordable. It can be done. I’ve been there.
What goals you have and how you get there is a very personal thing. For some it might mean getting that biannual and getting back up into the air after a hiatus. For others, it might mean tagging on that type rating or ATP.
One is not more important than the other.
After all, the bottom line goals are all the same: to learn more, to fly more precisely, to fly more safely, and, quite simply, to fly more.