Our family has been watching the new National Geographic mini-series, Mars. I originally wanted to watch for the science, but the whole family got sucked into the story. One scene in particular stuck with me, possibly because they used the same scene in both the first and the last episode, but I think it would have resonated either way.
The Mission Commander, Ben Swayer, addresses the crew before they are about to embark on a seven-month journey that kicks off their 4-year mission away from earth, friend, family, and everything they’ve ever known.
“I want you to stop and ask yourself what really is important to you about this mission. And if the answer to that question is not the most important thing in your life then I’m gonna invite you to walk out that door and go pursue whatever that thing is.”
What a great question.
Even though very very few of us will ever be saying goodbye to everyone we know for years at a time, how many of us take a reality check like that? And isn’t it even more important to ask ourselves that question BEFORE we’re strapped in and sitting on top of thousands of pounds of high explosives? Many of us move from day to day with our head down and worried about the next crisis. Why not call a timeout, step out of the ruts, and ask ourselves that question. Then – and most importantly – do something about it.
Some people are going to respond just as those astronauts did. That they are absolutely where they want to be. Maybe they have pursued their passion. Maybe their passion is to make a better life for their family than they had. Maybe their passion is to give back in some form. But there are going to be some who take a long hard look at the door.
Granted, it’s a LOT easier to come up with the reasons why we shouldn’t than it is to come up with the reasons why we should. And most of them are predictable. “I’d love to, but I have bills to pay.” “I’m just too busy to even think about that right now.” “I have too many responsibilities.” “I’ll do it after__________.” Along with dozens and dozens of others.
For those of you who immediately responded with a version of, “I can’t right now because _________.”, I would caution you to think about it in a time frame longer than tomorrow. Instead think about changes you need to make to where you could be there someday. Too many responsibilities or bills? Spend some time reducing those to a level to where you could “walk out that door” and pursue whatever “it” is. You’ll do it after some arbitrary date or event or milestone? Be careful. Those tend to move and one day you look up and a decade has gone by.
As for me, I am in one of the above excuse groups, but I have been working on my plan for the better part of this year. I have a LOT of changes I need to make in order to walk out that door. My current launch date is May of 2021. Even though that seems like a long time from now, I can tell you that for me it’s not unlike the astronauts on the Mars series. There is so much work to get done over the next 4 Years, 104 days, 17 hours, and 32 minutes, that it already feels more like a sprint than a marathon. I have accomplished the major milestone I needed to for 2016 and my next major milestone is currently targeted for a 3/31/2017 completion. Then I have another at 4/14/2017. And then lots of little ones in-between that build up to a major milestone for the end of next year.
If all of that sounds like a lot of work to you (like it does to me), then just start small. Ask yourself the question. And commit to an answer.