Chris Hadfield’s advice on how to stay motivated

Date:  December 19, 2022


“We (astronauts) recognize one body, one lifetime. So, take care of this thing. Have fun, but recognize you only get one of these and it’s only going to get older…That’s sort of a constant astronaut mantra.”

Col. Chris Hadfield

Earlier this year, Col. Chris Hadfield shared his advice with CCA chiropractors at our National Convention and Tradeshow. He spoke on how to stay healthy and motivated as we continue to support Canadian’s MSK healthcare. Even if you’re not a chiropractor, these tips are bound to improve your daily life as well.

You might think the first Canadian to walk in space would tell us to “Shoot for the stars!” but he kicked off our discussion with a healthy serving of reality and told us that shooting for the stars is so vague that the advice isn’t actually helpful.

1: Give yourself goals and dreams that you can incrementally get yourself closer to.

Whether you’re a chiropractor, teacher, office worker, or parent, we all share one thing in common: full schedules, day after day. It can be tough to stay motivated when you feel like you’re constantly running from appointment to appointment, errand after errand. However, Col. Hadfield said to get through the mundane daily grind, he often reminds himself of his goals and dreams, adapts them to his daily circumstances, and celebrates small victories.

“I drop my bar of personal victories as low as possible so that I don’t need some magnificent thing to happen to feel like I succeeded. There are always things to celebrate. No one else has to care – this is personal, so hold on to your dreams. When you drop your bar of victories as low as possible, you can feel victorious as often as you allow yourself.”

2: You have one body and one lifetime. Take care of it.

“We (astronauts) recognize one body, one lifetime. So, take care of this thing. Have fun, but recognize you only get one of these and it’s only going to get older…That’s sort of a constant astronaut mantra,” shared Col. Hadfield.

Did you know Col. Hadfield has had training to be an emergency medical technician? He has spent time working in hospital burn wards, done basic surgery on cadavers, assisted surgeons in operating rooms, and worked in emergency triaging. This gave him the fundamental skills to provide medical help to his colleagues onboard a spaceship.

3: When you’re feeling stressed, take a moment to reflect why.

Despite the public image that astronauts are “approaching perfection” Col. Hadfield is like everybody else and regularly feels stressed. He explained that when he feels stressed, he knows it’s because he feels incapable of doing the thing he has to do. “Stress is a symptom of fear of failure. I don’t like being afraid, I don’t like feeling stress! So, whenever I get that feeling of fear, I ask myself, ‘How come I’m not ready for what’s about to happen?’”

The greatest anecdote for fear, he said, is competence. So, use your quiet time (“we have more quiet time than we admit,” he said) to work specifically toward skills that keep you back the most. It boils down to a delegation of time and concentration on skills.

4: Keep things exciting by having various hobbies

There’s delight in discovery – so have hobbies!

“Don’t just be good at one thing to the loss of everything else.  You’ll be boring, even to yourself. It’s really important (to have other hobbies) in addition to the core of your life.”

For astronauts aboard a spaceship, he explains that of course there was plenty of work but there was time to pick up new skills like astrophotography, or learning how to play Stairway to Heaven on the guitar. Col. Hadfield explained that he had always loved reading and writing but knew that he’d have to make different choices in school if he wanted to become an astronaut. Now with his time back on earth, he has been able to learn from writers and editors and has published several books, most recently The Apollo Murders.

“There’s so much delight to discovery and self improvement. So, make sure that you take time to focus on what’s important to you so you can build the live that you want.”

Especially with the holidays around the corner, you’ll be able to stay calm and motivated if you keep these four tips from Col. Hadfield in mind.

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