A while back, I read The Code Book by Simon Singh. It’s a good book about the history of codes and code breaking.
Among others, the book covers the role of code breakers in wars. They play an essential role there. Why? Because if you break the enemy’s code, you can grasp the real situation of the battle. You can then make the right decisions. Instead of just directing your troops based on guesses, you can direct them the right way.
That was the case in World War II. The Allies were able to break the Axis’ code, and because of that they had situational awareness, which gave them a big advantage.
A good example is the Battle of Midway. The Imperial Japanese Navy was planning an attack, but thanks to the code breakers their movement was known beforehand. So the Allies were already prepared when the attack came. The result was a major victory for the Allies that turned the tide of the Pacific War.
The lesson is this: to control a situation, you must first know what the real situation is. You must first have situational awareness. If you do, you will be able to make the right decisions and take the right actions.
This applies to our lives as individuals as well. To be effective, you must first know what your real situation is. You must first have situational awareness about your life. That requires you to track the different aspects of your life.
Here are three things you need to do:
1. Track your income and expenses.
Doing this will give you an awareness about your financial situation.
If you have never done this before, you could be in for an unpleasant surprise. I, for instance, didn’t realize how big my expenses were until I began tracking them. I thought the situation was fine until I realized that it wasn’t.
But now that I track my finances, I am able to take the right actions if necessary. I know what expenses to trim and what income sources to improve. It’s like the Battle of Midway above: I know the position of the enemy so I can point my forces in the right direction.
2. Track your monthly accomplishments.
Doing this will give you an awareness about your productivity situation.
You might think that you are productive until you realize that you aren’t. That was the case with me. I was optimistic about my productivity until I began tracking my monthly accomplishments. I then realized that I was accomplishing very little.
Knowing the real situation, I then took actions. I eliminated some things that took my productive time away. I also trimmed my projects to just a few important ones.
3. Track your life’s direction.
Doing this will give you an awareness about the big picture of your life.
My favorite tool for this is a life map. A life map helps you see how you have spent your years. Without it, you could waste years without even realizing it.
By tracking your life map, you will be aware of where your life is going. You can then take the necessary action(s) if it goes off track.
There are other things you could do to improve your situational awareness, but these three pointers can give you a strong foundation to improve your life upon. You will then be on your way to maximizing your personal effectiveness.