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Astronauts on Apollo 13 Could Have Died, Their Fear Saved Them

Astronauts on Apollo 13 Could Have Died, Their Fear Saved Them

In 1970, astronauts aboard Apollo 13 were in a dire situation. They were going to land on the moon, but after an oxygen-tank explosion, the three men had to move to the lunar module of their spacecraft so that they could safely return home. There was just one problem with this plan: the lunar module was only designed for two men for a period of 36 hours. They needed enough air for three men for 96 hours. They would suffocate if they could not remove the CO2 from the air.[1]

The odds were against them, but the team at NASA didn’t give up. Motivated by fear of losing their guys, they gathered the materials that they knew the men would have on the lunar module and challenged themselves to make a CO2 scrubber.

Even though the mission didn’t turn out the way NASA had planned, the story has a happy ending. The emergency system that NASA developed on the fly saved the astronauts’ lives.

Fear drove the NASA team to be more creative.

Many people believe that creativity will only flourish when someone has lots of time and freedom. It’s true that people that feel too frightened or under too much pressure will have a hard time producing. Sometimes a small amount of fear pushes people to be extra creative.

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Fear Is a Protective Fence

There is such thing as a healthy amount of fear. Fear keeps us from taking big risks, and it helps us stay safe.

Your amygdala, the primitive part of your brain, is responsible for your impulse control and fear.[2] The amygdalae are the home of the fight or flight response. Being frightened all the time is not good for us, but having enough fear to prevent us from making bad choices keeps us from engaging in risky behaviors.[3]

    The Problem With the Fence

    When people are playing it safe all the time, it’s easy to fall into a routine. Our brain loves the idea of routine because it can go on autopilot. When something works, there’s no need to change anything.

    This is the comfort zone. It’s a safe place, but there isn’t much going on here. There’s no pressure to improve anything because everything seems to be moving along just fine.

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      We all need breaks from pressure once in a while, but if we are always comfortable, we can never grow. When we don’t have to worry about anything, there’s nothing to stimulate innovation.

      Problems motivate you to find solutions. Changes lead to adaptation. If you have an issue that you can’t solve right away, you’ll keep working on that problem in your mind – even if you don’t realize it. Problem solving like this causes us to put more energy and attention into dealing with the issue.

        The space between what we have and what we want is sometimes called creative tension. Having a gap between our reality and a desired outcome may be stressful, but prompts us to do our best work.[4]

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        The Fence Is Unnecessary

        You don’t really need that fence. The person who has no reason to make changes will continue on the same path indefinitely. Tension and new circumstances motivate creativity. Sometimes we need a little push to reach our full potential. Tighter deadlines, new tools, a different team, or an accident can spur you to tackle problems in new ways.

          Pixar, creators of some of the greatest animated films of our time, had to rethink their creative process. Instead of teaching people to avoid failure, they changed their culture to encourage people to fail quickly. Instead of creating crippling fear around making mistakes they worked to develop a sense of creative tension.

          This healthy amount of fear allows people to be okay with being wrong early in the process. They are willing to try new things. The creative tension that they experience makes their fear a friend to their creativity.

          Use Fear to Get You in Gear

          Living with too much fear every day is unhealthy. Your brain naturally tries to avoid being put under so much stress. Use creative tension to look at problems in new ways. You’ll see new perspectives and options you never noticed before.

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          Taking on a new role, working in a different place, and new people and tools can push you to try things outside of your normal routine. Your routine won’t inspire change by itself. Having to adjust to new situations can help you look at things in ways you never saw them before.

          This new way of thinking is the seed for creative growth. If you are becoming to relaxed or complacent, you may need to create change for yourself. To experience some creative tension:

          • Set a deadline. If you don’t have a due date for a project, create your own. This will keep you from procrastinating and force you to think about the problem.
          • Come up with a more ambitious target. When what you’re doing feels way too easy, challenge yourself. You’ll be less likely to get bored, and you’d be amazed at what you can come up with.
          • Change your routine. Doing the same thing every day or completing a task in the same way keeps you from reaching your creative potential. Doing something just because you’ve always done it that way isn’t a good enough rationale. Think about new ways to do what you do.

          Not every kind of work gives you the flexibility to make changes to your role. You may be expected to do things in a certain way. Even if you can’t alter your role, you can change how you think about it. No matter what your job expects of you, you are always free to challenge yourself to think about things from a new angle.

          You can think about how another person might think about the work that you are doing. If you were the CEO of the company, how would you feel about the work? If you are performing a service, what would you want as a customer. These new perspectives can make you think about what you do in new and exciting ways.

          Sheer terror isn’t going to make you a better worker, but creative tension can push you to do incredible things. People can’t innovate when they stagnate. Find ways to break out of your comfort zone and embrace the creativity that comes from a challenge.

          Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

          Reference

          More by this author

          Leon Ho

          Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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          Last Updated on October 13, 2020

          A Complete Guide to Goal Setting for Personal Success

          A Complete Guide to Goal Setting for Personal Success

          If there was a rule book of life, there would be one particular page that was highlighted, underlined, and titled as most important. It would be the one which told you that you need to master effective goal setting and have an aim in mind before you get on with the process. Luckily, this goal setting guide is here to help.

          Yes, goal setting is important. In fact, it’s more important than achieving the goal itself. This is because it is the sense of direction that is needed for you to fulfill any task in life.

          You don’t have to feel overwhelmed if this sounds new to you because all the following information has you covered.

          Today you’ll find out all about the importance of goal setting, types of goals, and tips to define realistic goals for yourself!

          What Are Goals?

          To kick off our goal setting guide, you need to first recognize what goals are and how they are different from objectives, dreams, and expectations.

          A goal is basically your aim for the relatively long-term future. It is the bigger umbrella, the main focus.

          Objectives, on the other hand, fall under the umbrella of goals. They are the stepping stones that help you achieve your goals[1].

          Objects vs goals for goal setting

            Let’s say you want to learn a new foreign language. Your goal is to be fluent in the new language. Everything you do to achieve this goal, such as the daily tasks and learning aims, are the objectives.

            Similarly, your expectations, visions, and dreams are not your goals. If you wish to learn a new language someday, that is your dream. If you see yourself fluently speaking multiple foreign languages, that is your vision. If you think you’re capable of learning a new language, that is your expectation.

            However, if you aim to fulfill these visions, dreams, and expectations practically, that is your goal.

            Why Is Goal Setting Important?

            Why should you bother with goal setting at all? Wouldn’t it be more convenient to just get on with your daily objectives, follow a dream or vision, and let life take you wherever?

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            Well, if that’s what you want to do in your life, go ahead, but if you actually want to tick off things from your list of goals to achieve, goal setting is necessary.

            Being committed to a goal puts your brain to work in one specific direction. Believe it or not, by having a defined goal, your brain does its magic unconsciously, 24/7, with full efficiency, to achieve the desired results[2].

            Goal setting is important to shift your focus, boost your motivation, and give you a sense of direction. Without formally defining a particular aim that you want to reach, you won’t be able to keep your objectives in line.

            Hence, this one tiny step can end up saving you a lot of hassle and time while also encouraging your productivity in the right regard.

            Types of Goals

            Before we move onto the technique of setting effective goals, we need to first take a look at all types of goals in this goal setting guide.

            These categories will not just help you brainstorm new one for yourself, but it will also guide you to list them down in the right way.

            Time-Based

            One of the two broad categories of goals is based on time. These goals define how far in the future you want to achieve them.

            Daily

            There are certain smaller goals that you can easily achieve in a day or two. In fact, some of these daily goals can be recurring, too. For example, you may want to run for an hour every morning.

            Now, these daily goals can also serve as objectives for a long-term goal. You may be running every day because, in the long-term, you want to increase your stamina.

            Daily goals are highly effective for people who want to improve their mental wellbeing, time management skills, and stress management.

            Short-Term

            Next in line are short-term goals. As you would have already guessed, these are aimed for the near future.

            The great thing about these is that they are generally easier to achieve. This is because short-term goals are set for the foreseeable future. You are aware of the circumstances and have an idea of how much the situation can change. That is unless, of course, something extremely unpredictable happens, the chances of which are quite slim.

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            Just like daily goals, short-term goals may also serve as objectives for a long-term goal. Your short-term goal may be to lose 5 pounds in one month. That could be a goal in itself, or maybe it is just one objective to fulfill your goal to adopt a healthy lifestyle in the next two years.

            Another example of a short-term goal is to fulfill the checklist for promotion within the next 6 months. Or, you may want to reduce your screen time within the coming week.

            Long-Term

            Lastly, we have long-term goals that are meant to be completed over a stretched period.

            Whatever you want to achieve in a later stage of life is a long-term goal. An insurance plan, for example, is a long-term goal.

            Some long-term goals don’t have any time frame at all. They are goals that you want to accomplish at some point in your life. So, something like traveling the whole world is a lifelong goal with no specific time constraint at all.

            There’s one thing about long-term goals that isn’t great.

            They are the hardest to keep up with since you’re not seeing any huge achievements regularly. This may take a toll on your motivation. To tackle this problem, it is best to divide a long-term goal into various short-term and daily objectives so that you’re always tracking the progress you’re making.

            Life-Based

            Moving forward, you can also start goal setting based on the results you want to achieve instead of the time period.

            Career

            Like all humans, you will always want to succeed and excel in your career. No one wants to stay where they are forever.

            Anything that has to do with this intention, regardless of the time frame, is a career goal.

            You can learn more about how to set successful career goals here.

            Personal

            The past few years have all been about emphasizing your personal health. So, when it comes to goals, how can we forget the ones that have to do with our personal gains?

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            From health to finances to relationships, everything that brings you happiness and composure as a person is a personal goal.

            Whether you want to get rid of your debt, quit smoking, start a side hustle, get married, or have children, all these goals are personal and very important to have on your list.

            How to Set Goals

            The best way to guarantee the fulfillment of goals is to set them the right way.

            SMART Goals

            Every goal you define has to be smart[3]. No, we don’t mean the adjective. We’re referring to the acronym here.

            SMART stands for:

            • Specific
            • Measurable
            • Attainable
            • Relevant
            • Time-Bound

            In summary, your specific goals should be very well defined. They shouldn’t be generic or broad, and every detail should be clarified. 

            If you want to start running, how often do you want to do it? How long will each session be? For how long will you continue this habit?

            There has to be a connection between your goals and beliefs or you’ll never be able to achieve the results you want. Most importantly, do not be unrealistic. You cannot learn to fly, and forcing yourself to try is only going to demotivate and stress you out.

            Some Rules

            Whenever you’re working your way through this goal setting guide, keep a few things in mind.

            First and foremost, prioritize your goals. Things that you want to achieve the quickest should be worked on first.

            Don’t act in a way that is self-centered. There are people around you who will be affected by the things you do. Keep them in mind when defining goals.

            Lastly, do not let yourself forget the bigger picture. Whether it is the long-term result or the connection of the goal with your desire, keep it in mind to keep yourself from getting distracted.

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            I also recommend you to watch this video to learn 7 strategies to set goals effectively:

            How to Reach Your Goals

            You can ensure your progress by following some foolproof tactics. The use of relevant helpful tools can also keep you on the right track.

            Tactics

            One rookie mistake that most people make is that they work on too many goals simultaneously. Create an action plan and focus on one thing at a time.

            Divide your goal into smaller, easily achievable tasks. Taking it one step at a time makes it way easier. However, do not break them down too much. For example, for long-term goals, you should go for weekly checkpoints instead of daily ones.

            Also, keep track of your progress. This will keep you motivated to work harder.

            Tools

            With so many categories of goals and so many aims, it is almost impossible to remember, let alone work, on all of them.

            Luckily, numerous goal tracker apps will help you keep track of your goals, as well as your plan to achieve every single one. Have at least one installed in your smartphone so that your plan is always within reach.

            Bottom Line

            In conclusion, using a goal setting guide is not rocket science. All that it takes is strong will power along with all the knowledge that you’ve learned so far.

            Try out the tactics and tips mentioned above to be able to set successful goals so that you can achieve the life that you want!

            More Tips on Achieving Success

            Featured photo credit: Danielle MacInnes via unsplash.com

            Reference

            [1] Smart Insights: The difference between marketing objectives and marketing goals?
            [2] Confluence: Goal Setting Theory
            [3] University of California: SMART Goals: A How-To Guide

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