Buzz Aldrin Paid an Enormous Price For a Round Trip Ticket to the Moon
He never imagined what his life would be like after completing his goal. He never thought about the years that would remain after he’d returned to earth. In short, he never anticipated a time when he would ask the question, “Now what?”
Are you making the same mistake?
Episode 36 - Buzz Aldrin paid an enormous price for a round trip ticket to the moon
He was the second human to walk on the moon. His father, Edwin Aldrin, was an engineer and aviation pioneer and friends with Charles Lindbergh and Orville Wright.
When you look at the history, it seems like Buzz Aldrin was born to be an astronaut.
His goal of traveling to the moon was a monumental—if not a seemingly impossible—objective. He saw himself as a lunar astronaut before there was technology to take him there. And yet, he not only believed it was possible, he structured all other aspects of his life around achieving this single endeavor.
But there was a flaw in Aldrin’s plan.
He never imagined what his life would be like after completing his goal. He never thought about the years that would remain after he’d returned to earth. How would he spend his time? What new purpose would be waiting for him?
In short, he never anticipated a time when he would ask the question, “Now what?”
Hey, Welcome back. This is Roger Reid with another episode of Success Point 360.
In Buzz Aldrin’s case, his obsession to be one of the first people to walk on the surface of the moon cost him dearly: His wife left him, he became an alcoholic, and he withdrew into a deep, depressive state. Although at the time he was working toward his goal, those future events weren’t obvious, and yet, they became the very real costs Aldrin paid for his round-trip ticket to the moon.
Could the outcome have been different? Could Aldrin have adjusted his priorities by recognizing the importance of the more earth-bound parts of his life?
After reading his autobiography and the transcripts of his speeches, I have to admit that, in Aldrin’s case, probably not.
He was a man obsessed with the one idea – and that was set foot on the moon.
However, I don’t think he purposely put his personal relationships, health, and self-worth on the chopping block, intentionally sacrificing them in exchange for him and Neil Armstrong to spend 21 hours and 36 minutes on the lunar surface.
But after he returned to earth?
That’s when the price became obvious—even to Aldrin.
His feelings of despair and desperation after achieving his life-long ambition were summed up in his book, Magnificent Desolation: “I wanted to resume my duties, but there were no duties to resume. There was no goal, no sense of calling, no project worth pouring myself into.”
His frustration is understandable—once you’ve been to the moon, everything else seems inconsequential by comparison.
And while Aldrin did his best to hide the extent of the damage to his personal life, his wife, Joan Aldrin was more forthcoming . . .
During an interview with Life magazine in 1969, and later, with the LA times, she said, “There’s something about the public making a hero of a man, what it did to him and me and the kids. . . I wish Buzz were a carpenter, a truck driver, a scientist, anything but what he is.” [Joan Aldrin, from interviews with Life Magazine (1969) and The LA Times 1973].
While your goals may not be as ambitious as Aldrin’s, you’ve no doubt experienced the stress of having to choose between devoting your time and resources toward your professional objectives and the needs of your spouse, family, and friends.
And, at the time, arranging your life around the pursuit of a singular goal may seem to be an appropriate—even necessary—priority.
You may even assume that the people in your life will wait for you; that your health will survive the years of neglect; and your perspective can be realigned to focus on a more balanced and satisfying future.
But life doesn’t work that way.
The foundational elements of our lives—the things that make us happy and give us a sense of emotional security—must receive our attention and care and, when necessary, our protection.
Neglect them, and they wither.
Ignore them, and they die.
And the worst part about living your life in a state of “single focus?” You’re often just deceiving yourself, but you don’t realize it, you don’t know it’s happening. . .
Because you begin ignoring other aspects of your life by default.
Here’s the way it typically happens: We become deluded by a false sense of logic—we tell ourselves it’s the right thing to do—and so we plunge headlong into a state of unbalance, rationalizing it as unfortunate but necessary, especially when we’ve made the commitment to accomplish a challenging objective.
But every goal comes with a price tag. Depending on the nature and scope of the objective, some pay more, others less. But the cost is real, and it’s often counted in the currency of the emotional security we currently experience in our lives.
So here’s the big question: Are you already on the edge of paying too much?
Here’s an easy test . . .
Ask yourself, “If I lost my spouse, my family, or my health as a result of accomplishing an all-important goal, would that be an acceptable price to pay?
The answer—yes or no—isn’t near as important as the way this question makes you “feel.”
If you immediately dismissed the idea because you know the likelihood of it actually happening is small–because you currently support, and nurture those personal areas of your life—there’s a good chance your life has some degree of balance.
But if you felt a sudden wave of fear or a sickening surge of guilt as you consider the possibility of losing the people, places, and things that are most important to you, it’s time to reassess how you’re spending your time and attention.
Start by listening to the signals your mind is sending you. Burnout, frustration, and depression are all signs of a life out of balance. So is a spouse who has become distant and withdrawn.
And what about your health? Increased drinking, smoking, and recreational drug use are common compensations for a life on the verge of becoming a virtual train wreck.
The really unfortunate part of allowing a goal to take over as your number one priority is that we seldom realize the cumulative harm of neglect and inattention until we’ve accomplished that all-important objective.
And by then, it’s too late.
That’s when we realize we’ve traded away the most valuable parts of our life in exchange for a few newspaper clippings, a trophy or two, and the quickly forgotten accolades of our professional peers.
Are you ready for the antidote?
The best way to keep from losing the foundational elements of your life is through prevention, and it has to be on-going to be effective. That means making a periodic assessment to determine how you’re spending your time, and if necessary, to readjust your priorities to provide more support for those things in your life that are important to you.
Sounds easy, right?
But in realistic terms, you’re attempting to look into the future and anticipate the possible damage to your marriage, your family, and your health if you continue with your current priorities.
For example, if your first stop after a ten-hour day at the office is the local bar, make sure the time you spend there is more important than spending that time with your family.
And speaking of family, a good place to start is to maintain an open channel of communication with those closest to you. If you anticipate a short-term need to dedicate an inordinate or disproportionate amount of time to your work, explain the situation to your family, tell them why it’s important, and what they can expect from you during this limited time span. Let their feedback guide you on how flexible you need to be, based on their needs and expectations. For example, your nine-year-old may not understand your reason for missing a Sunday afternoon league game, while your seventeen-year-old won’t really care.
Keep in mind that your family’s acceptance of a temporary priority imbalance must be just that: Temporary.
Intentionally transitioning into a state of unbalance for “as long as it takes,” presents the risk of establishing a “new normal,” and with it, unintentional, complacent acceptance.
Aldrin’s family was well aware of the importance of his work. They were also aware of the overwhelming commitment he’d made to be one of the first men to walk on the moon. They accepted the “shadow” nature of his reduced and irregular presence as a “normal” part of their life.
But it didn’t stop the damage from occurring.
If the foundational elements of your life are important to you, support them with a level of priority equal to your highest objective. For example, if you usually spend Sunday afternoon in some outdoor activity with your spouse, make it a priority by including it in your plan. If necessary, make it an unbreakable appointment.
I’ll leave you with this . . .
While it may never be your intention to purposely ignore your spouse, family, or friends, the damage from what they perceive as apathy and indifference is just as real.
Take the time to recognize the parts of your life that are working—the relationships, health practices, and spiritual mindset that provide you with emotional security and happiness. Make sure they are included in your life plan as your highest priority intentions, especially when setting new goals and objectives.
Unlike Buzz Aldrin, you may never reach the moon. But by nurturing and protecting the foundational elements you count on, you’ll enjoy a life measured in terms of happiness, satisfaction, and fulfillment—often when you need it the most.
I’ll be right back with a question from a listener, after this personal pitch for my new book, “Better Mondays, The New Rules For Creating Financial Success and Personal Freedom While working for the Man”.
Forty years ago, “working for the man” meant a job for life. And your personal value? That was reflected by your monthly paycheck.
In the most literal sense, the purpose of “working for a living” was to generate money—to buy food, pay for housing, buy a car and take a two-week vacation once a year.
A successful career was based on a simple mantra: Show up on time, put in the hours, and go home. And then, repeat for thirty years.
Thankfully, things have changed.
Today, there are many people who work for a corporation because they choose to. And they enjoy the benefits of an Immediate and consistent income and the personal credibility that comes with being associated with a large and successful organization.
And while it isn’t perfect, working for the corporation is a viable career option that can be made even better by knowing how the system works, and conversely, how to work the system.
And that’s why I wrote “Better Mondays – the new rules for creating financial success and personal freedom while working for the man.” But I want to give you a word of warning: If you’re expecting another business book on business theory or another collection of essays on goal setting or resource management, you’re going to be disappointed. Better Mondays is a collection of personal tools, a set of guidelines to help you negotiate more money, to get a promotion, and to receive more recognition to move you further along the fast track in the shortest time possible.
There are no off-limit topics – the content is often irreverent, and at times, downright raw and revealing.
For example, in chapter nine, When I tell you that the HR department is not your friend, and why you should consider anyone from HR as an adversary, I’ll back it up with the truth, because The HR department’s number one responsibility is to protect the company from liability, and on any given day, you could be the source of that liability.
Are you tired of the politics at work? Then you don’t understand the system. It’s not really politics, it’s a power pyramid. And you need to know how to use it to your advantage.
Success in the corporate world is about bringing the right kind of attention to yourself, it’s about getting caught doing the right thing. It’s knowing how to elevate your value, not only in the eyes of your boss, but in the minds of your co-workers as well.
How do you do that? It’s in chapter twelve.
Essentially, “Better Mondays” is about looking out for number one. It’s about coming to the realization that it’s your life first, both on and off the job.
And if that makes sense to you, go to Amazon, open up the search tab, and type in Better Monday’s by Roger Reid.
You can also read the first chapter for free. It’s on my website at www.successpoint360.
This question comes from Michael in Seattle.
In an email, he writes: I just completed the goal-setting sessions that are required by my employer. I’ve also revised and created a few new personal goals for this year.
I expected some conflicts, because I’ve had them before, but I never really thought of them as anything more than a distraction. But now, as I look back on the last several years, I can see there are a lot of things I wanted to accomplish that didn’t get done because I didn’t put enough time on the things that were important to me.
I know part of the problem is a lack of discipline. I often catch myself distracted with other things – such as social media, email, and YouTube, and before I know it, I’ve spent an hour watching and reading non-essential or trivial material—time I could have used to make progress on my goals.
I’d like to know your ideas of establishing the right priority on personal goals and motivating myself to stick with it . . .
Thanks for the question, Michael.
I thought it was interesting that you used the word, Discipline, in your question. It’s one of those words that, just from the sound of it, makes us cringe. It’s associated with punishment. With being forced to give up something that is pleasurable, enjoyable, or just outright fun, and instead, direct our time and attention to something that isn’t pleasurable, enjoyable, or fun.
So if the word or the idea of discipline creates that sense of negative association, you may want to stop using it in describing and thinking about your goals. Because, If discipline is what you believe is required to accomplish your new goals, and it invokes a negative connotation, making progress on those goals is going to be more difficult than it has to be.
Especially when you consider that you may not need discipline; you need focus, focus your time, energy, and recourses on the things you’ve decided matter in your life. And that means we need to talk about the other factor you mentioned, and that how to establish priority.
So here’s the big question: are your goals really yours, or have they been assigned to you? Or did you inherit them? Assigned and inherited goals often represent what others are expecting from you. And when I say the others, I’m talking about bosses, teachers, parents, spouses, co-workers, friends, and relatives. So it’s important to know the source of the goal: Is it yours, do you really own it, or will its completion solely be to the benefit of others?
Second, are your goals a sub-set of a much larger objective? Are you finding yourself getting bogged down with the details to the point that you’ve lost sight of the bigger picture, then you’ve discovered one of the main reasons why a lot of goals never move past the planning stage: Too much planning, and not enough action.
Sometimes, it’s a good idea to clarify—if only to yourself—what you’re doing, and most important, why you’re doing it.
One of the reasons we look back over our past goals and objectives is to eliminate goals that have become unproductive. It could be, that your procrastination is created by an unproductive goal that continues to stay on your list. If you think this could be the case, ask yourself what would happen if you eliminated it? What if you didn’t do it personally, or if you didn’t accomplish it all?
Sometimes, we use a self-created obstacle – like a goal that’s no longer important to us -as a scapegoat, a way to rationalize not accomplishing what we’ve told ourselves we’re going to do.
We tell ourselves we’re stuck, and we point to a long term goal as a convenient explanation, to use as an excuse as to why we haven’t finished that book we’ve told everyone we’re writing, or it keeps us from creating the website we need to kick off a new business. So every once in a while, it’s beneficial to ask yourself if the goal is still something you want, still important to you, and if it is, then determine what’s preventing you from accomplishing it.
And finally, you may want to consider working in a group setting or with a productivity partner. That means finding an individual who will help, provide suggestions, or serve as a motivational partner. If you knew, that once a week, you going to meet with your partner to review your progress, you may find the incentive you need to stay on track, to continue making progress toward what you really want.
Hey, that’s it for this episode. And it’s also the end of season three of Success Point 360. I’ll be taking a few weeks off to research new topics and to begin working on season four. But in the meantime, if you have questions about anything we’ve talked about on the podcast, please use the voicemail tab on the website, or you can send me an email, at firstname.lastname@example.org
And I have a request, something you can do that will really help me with bringing more attention to my new book, Better Mondays. If you’ve bought it, please write a review and leave it on Amazon. Sharing your thoughts and opinions with others goes a long way in helping them to understand how the content could be useful in their lives, as well.
As I end season three, I want to offer a special thanks to my regular subscribers. I deliver these episodes specifically for you, and your notes and comments are very important to me. They help me to focus on new topics and subjects for upcoming episodes. And I want to let you know that I won’t be completely off-line between seasons. I’m planning a couple of bonus episodes, one of which will feature fiction writer, Jaye Frances, so check back in a few weeks to listen to that very special podcast.
If you have a question, please leave me a voicemail on the website, at www.SuccessPoint360.com The voicemail tab is located in the main header. You can also send me an email at: email@example.com, that’s firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for listening, and I‘ll see you in season four.
© 2021 Roger Reid. All Rights Reserved.
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Be sure and check out my new book now available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback. It’s titled Better Mondays: The New Rules for Creating Financial Success and Personal Freedom (While Working For the Man)
I’ve lowered the price for the Kindle version, so if you or someone you know is struggling with a job that doesn’t provide anything more than a paycheck, or you’re ready to use your employer as a launching pad to start your own business, you’ll find the tools you need to take control of your professional success and to change your life for the better.
You can find more information on my website, www.successpoint360.com. I’ve posted the first chapter on the site as a free read, so I encourage you to take a look.