An astronaut gives advice to achieve your dreams

"A morning in Cushing" (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2015. Cushing, Maine. Alternately, this could be a visual metaphor for the current state of my respiratory system!

"A morning in Cushing" (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2015. Cushing, Maine. Alternately, this could be a visual metaphor for the current state of my respiratory system!

"Cough drops were now a major food group. Coughing overtook the plank as a core exercise. Two jiggers of night time cough syrup replaced the enjoyable glass of wine. The sharp essence of menthol & eucalyptus announced her passage from room to room. And during that holiday week, she alone, was responsible for the 1.02% rise in stock value of the tissue company."

( I promise I won't try my hand as author of romance novels about a consumptive damsel. Ahahahaha! Oh wait... laughing makes me *cough*.)

Yes indeedy, I have the Holiday Week Cold. Apparently, as I hear from my friends around the country and across the pond...I am not alone.  I'm feeling for you!

What shall one do when confined to the living room sofa for over a week? 

Watch fifty hour marathons of every Godzilla movie ever made and forty-eight hours of Dr. Who. Then, listen to podcast interviews because the only movement required is hitting the play button on the mobile device.

The best interview of the week was James Altucher interviewing Chris Hadfield.  You may not know the name "Chris Hadfield".  I bet you do know of the astronaut who sang David Bowie's Space Oddity from the International Space Station. That was Chris Hadfield.

I was so impressed by the interview, I bought Hadfield's autobiography and read its entirety in less than a day. (God bless Kindle.)
 

The International Space Station traveling right over my house in 2014. (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2014, Thurmont, MD.  A good example of learning different photography technical skills in your own backyard. I use the ISS Spotter, an app that tracks the international space station.

The International Space Station traveling right over my house in 2014. (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2014, Thurmont, MD.  A good example of learning different photography technical skills in your own backyard. I use the ISS Spotter, an app that tracks the international space station.

Got goals?

(Just a little riff on the milk commercial, you know.)

It's everywhere right now - you can't avoid it.

  • "Write your goals down for 2016."
  • "if you share your goals, you're more likely to achieve them."
  • "If you share your goals, you're more likely NOT to achieve them."
  • "What five things do you want to accomplish this year?"
  • "Goals are useless; choose your themes this year."
  • "Resolutions don't work."
  • "Visualize your dreams."

Aaahhh! It's enough to make you swear off reading ANYTHING until February!

The best advice I have ever found for achieving your dreams came from the nine-year-old-astronaut-wannabe.

4 lessons in dream fulfillment from an astronaut

The first lesson - and probably most important one - comes from the 9 year old Chris after he had seen Neil Armstrong walk on the moon.  He decided at that very moment he wanted to be an astronaut.

The odds seemed not in his favor...he's Canadian. Canada would not even have a space program for another twenty years!

But...here's the question that placed his 9 year old self on the path to being an astronaut, to walking in space, to commanding the International Space Station.

"What would an astronaut do?"

Would an astronaut eat junk food or eat his vegetables? (Eat his vegetables, of course.)

Would an astronaut watch TV or read a book? (Astronauts must keep learning so he would read a book.)

An astronaut has to fly airplanes, so as Chris reached his teen years, he joined the Civil Air Patrol, received his glider's license at age 15, and pilot's license at age 16.

It was that question - what would an astronaut do - that guided his choices and decisions each step of the way, even into his adult years.

The second lesson is - how could he be of service?  He studied constantly to improve his knowledge, his skills, his dexterity - knowing the successful completion of a mission is a team effort. It didn't matter if he was a member of the Space crew or a member of the Ground control crew. 

The third lesson - "what's the next thing that could kill us". Okay, I grant that sounds over-the-top melodramatic for an artist or photographer - stay with me here. When you're circumnavigating the world in a tin can 254 miles above the earth, you want to be prepared for as many problem solving contingencies as possible. 

And the fourth lesson - no matter what happens his personal value was not determined by being selected - or not selected - for a mission. His happiness, and his family's happiness, were not dependent upon his being selected for singular, high-profile missions.

Can you apply this to art and photography?

 You betcha!

#1 -  What would the world-changing, fine art photographer do?  Get sucked into Facebook for hours on end or go out into her community to find situations her photography could highlight?  Sink into the sofa with chips and soda or take a brisk walk outside with her camera?

#2 -  How can a photographic artist be of service? (and I'm not talking about the pseudo-service sameness that you find on some artists' website..."we serve you by producing the finest photos, etc., etc., etc.") The finest example of service I've had the pleasure to observe came from a couple in Colorado. They used their photography skills to produce a coffee table book that generated over $1.2 million in donations. The recipients of this effort?  An educational foundation for girls in Guatemala.  

We all are team members floating in the vastness of space on this one tiny blue marble. How can we use our gifts to be of service to each other?

#3 - What's the next bad thing that could happen?  This is not about holding negative thoughts, this is about being prepared. And not being prepared is a hallmark of not thinking ahead (and inexperience). For example, two different "newbie" wedding photographers were crying into their camera bags because of not thinking ahead.

One assumed that her memory cards were "okay" and did not have back ups. She lost EVERY SINGLE PHOTO from the wedding. 

The second dropped her only camera during the wedding and broke it.  She did not have a back-up.

The results were two sets of very unhappy bridal groups.

Thinking ahead can include components of physical safety (especially for newborn photographers) as well as having backup equipment/contingencies.

#4 - No matter what happens, your happiness, your value, is not determined by singular, high-profile events. Choose to experience your fulfillment, your joy from small victories. Define your measure of success broadly. 

As Chris wrote in the last pages of his book, "life is is just a lot better if you're having 10 wins a day rather than a win every 10 years or so."

In your toolbox...

So, there you have it; an astronaut's basic guide to fulfilling your dreams.

  • Put that question at the top of your list...."What would a (your dream statement here) do?
  • Ask yourself that same question every day. 
  • Choices to be made?  Ask the question. And then act on the correct answer.

I know what I have to do this year...how about you?

Expect the best. Anything else is an adventure.

Rebecca

Resources mentioned in this post: 

  1. JamesAltucher.com, podcasts/blog posts by James Altucher
  2. "An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth; What going to space taught me about ingenuity, determination, and being prepared for anything" by Chris Hadfield.
  3. ISS Spotter, an IPhone app for tracking the International Space Station.

What's the best advice about fulfilling dreams you have ever received?

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