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What is a holding pattern and is it a bad thing?


Columnist Todd Sergeant, a Breakfast Show host at 2NURFM (103.7) and Mentor at Mindset 180, discusses a holding pattern and whether it’s a bad thing.

I’ve had some great conversations with my clients over the last few weeks and there’s a trend that’s starting to appear.

They are different scenarios but with the same underlying theme and it all revolves around what you and I are experiencing right now.

Treading water, spinning my wheels, walking on a treadmill, going around in circles – it really doesn’t matter what you call it, it’s the feeling of expending massive amounts of energy but not really seeing results or getting anywhere, and it can drive us nuts.

Yep, we feel like we are in a holding pattern, but is that always a bad thing? I say no as long you understand what it is, why, and how you can make it work for you.

You may have experienced it, you have been on a long flight and you’re close to landing, you may even be able to see the airport but you’re not landing.

For many people, they assume the worst: there’s something wrong with the aircraft, we’re going to crash!

But it’s not the case, you are just in a holding pattern. Why though?

As a pilot, safety is always the number one consideration and there are always procedures to keep people safe and a holding pattern is just one of them.

Now I don’t want to geek you out with pilot stuff but, in its simplest form, a holding pattern is a manoeuvre designed to delay an aircraft that’s already in flight while keeping it within a specific airspace.

Effectively, the control tower isn’t ready to let you land and they need you to go over “there” and fly a pattern until they are ready to let you land, all the while keeping a safe eye on you.

So why would you need to be in a holding pattern? Well, there are many reasons.

It may be a busy time at the airport, a runway may be closed so congestion is higher, there may be a smaller, slower aircraft than you that need to land but, generally, it’s just standard procedure.

If anything, it gives the pilots the opportunity to double check the aircraft systems, allowing for an even safer landing.

Let’s get back to you. There may be many reasons you’re in a holding pattern, but as long as you are aware of why you are, and be really honest with yourself about what’s keeping you there, then it isn’t a problem.

Let’s face it, life can get in the way, things happen, and that’s okay.

But let’s be totally clear about a holding pattern: you only should be in it for the shortest time possible and a holding pattern should never take you further away from your goals.

The outcome airfield should always remain in sight at the same distance.

Also use this time to be productive. Just because you are in a holding pattern doesn’t mean you can’t plan, learn, and achieve.

Don’t confuse a holding pattern with lack of will to follow through on your commitments to yourself – this is more of a rut and the two are very separate things.

So where are you really and what’s holding you back?

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