"If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable."
– Lucius Annaeus Seneca
The most important aspect of achieving excellence in your life is having the right velocity. That is, you must have both magnitude and direction in your efforts to get where you want to go.
Velocity is often confused with speed. When you have high speed it means that you are moving fast. It could be the case that you're completing a lot of tasks at work, you're exercising a lot, or that you're doing a lot of new activities at home. In all of these cases, you are moving fast and getting many things done, checking them off of your to-do list.
But are you really making progress? Perhaps not. You could be completing many tasks at work, but are they the right tasks that will help you complete your project or get you promoted? You could be exercising every day, but are you doing the right exercises with the right technique to help you get stronger? You could be doing a lot of new activities at home, but are they truly helping you live a happier life?
Speed is useless without a proper direction. You're getting things done but they're not the right things so they don't move you any closer to your objective. You might be powerful but that power isn't being applied in a way that will get you results. You're spinning your wheels with nothing to show for it. After all that hard work you end up somewhere that you don't even want to be.
Velocity is Better
Velocity is the real driver of progress. In mathematical terms, velocity has two parts: magnitude and direction. The magnitude is your speed, how many things you get done. But the direction is the key part, it's the why and what of the effort you're putting in. You need to know why you're aiming for a particular target and what exactly you're going to do to move closer to it.
Looking at the examples we had before:
- It's important to do the right tasks at work to make progress. What are those tasks? Well, that's for you to decide based on what you want to achieve. Help the business? Deliver a certain project? Get promoted? Then you can select the tasks that are most aligned with your goal
- When exercising, it's important that your routine is designed in a specific, goal-oriented way. Are you aiming for strength, muscle building, edurance, or a combination? Are you doing the best exercises to improve in that target area? Are you doing them with the safe and effective technique? Is your diet good enough to support all of this? These are all part of your direction
- When doing activities at home ask yourself if they're really helping you live a better life. Often times, there are alternatives. Instead of just scrolling through Facebook, text a few friends to see what they're up to. Instead of watching YouTube on your own, watch it with your family members to share in the fun. It's all about picking positive activities to move closer to the target of "happiness"
Once you have your target properly defined, it naturally reveals the work you should be doing to reach it. And once you know what that work is, you can do it with the confidence that it's worthwhile because it's moving you closer to your goals.
The Real Essence of Velocity
No one wants to pack their days with tons of work and responsibilities, grind them out, only to look up in several years and realize that they were going the wrong way. Their life is now in shambles because they've progressed too far in one direction, a direction that they didn't want to go. They may have lost out on money, career progress, relationships, or worst of all, happiness.
In life, it's important to know where you are going. When you do, you can work with the confidence that your efforts are pushing you towards your goals rather than away from them. That's why velocity is superior to speed. Speed only pushes you forward. Velocity pushes you forward and ensures that your forward is pointing the right way.