Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Mission Elapsed Time

Mission Elapsed Time (MET) is the time that has elapsed since the beginning of a project or 'mission.' For example, if we tell you our MET is 5/22:09:17, you know it has been 5 days, 22 hours, 9 minutes, and 17 seconds since our project started. NASA uses MET on all its flights to minimize the confusion caused by flexible launch times... 
We live about a three-hour drive from our favorite bookstore, Powell's City of Books in Portland, Oregon. When we visit, we sometimes take our dogs along. If we were to plan an itinerary for a trip to Powell's, it might look like this:
   8:00 A.M. - Leave home.
   8:15 A.M. - Gas up the car and get a soda.
   10:00 A.M. - Stop at a rest area to stretch and walk the dogs.
   11:45 A.M. - Arrive at Powell's 
  However, we never know when we're going to leave, because we usually sleep late on weekends and there are frequently last-minute delays such as gathering up a few last books to sell or receiving an unexpected phone call. NASA would say we have a long launch window for our trip. Thus, an actual trip to Powell's might look more like this, in ordinary clock time:
   11:47 A.M. - Leave home.
   12:02 P.M. - Gas up the car and get a soda.
   1:47 P.M. - Stop at a rest area to stretch and walk the dogs.
   3:32 P.M. - Arrive at Powell's 
However, it might be easier to build an itinerary around MET, which is relative, rather than absolute, clock time:
   0:00 - Leave home.
   0:15 - Gas up the car and get a soda.
   2:00 - Stop at a rest area to stretch and walk the dogs.
   3:45 - Arrive at Powell's
 - From Mindhacker (pp 106-107) 

I do believe in the establishment of "SMART" (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound) goals, however the "time-bound" thing has always been a bit problematic if we look at things long term. For example, if you set a goal to squat 500lbs at your next powerlifting meet three months from now, what happens if you fail to attain it? The mission isn't over. Do you just throw your hands up and say "Oh well, back to the drawing board"?
The beauty of using "Mission Elapsed Time" is that the clock doesn't have to stop at your next meet. The clock stops when the mission is complete.
Let me be clear - in my opinion, there is a difference between a mission and a goal. A mission is big. Totaling elite in a powerlifting meet is a mission. Losing 100 pounds is a mission. Most people aren' going to be able to sustain the effort needed for more than one or two missions at a time. Choose your mission thoughtfully.
Goals, on the other hand, can range from big to small. A goal may be a minor benchmark along the way to mission completion, or it may be the mission itself. You can have multiple goals, but they should all be assisting you in completing "the mission".

How would this look in your training log? I'm still experimenting with the idea, but after establishing a mission, the next workout you put in toward its accomplishment would start the MET as "Goal X - Day 1". Each successive calendar day (training or not) would count as Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, etc. The MET ends when the mission is complete and not before.

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