Like many of us I have been avidly watching Tim Peake’s historic time on board the International Space Station. Our first ‘official’ British astronaut has deservedly caused great excitement in the UK among young and old alike, making us all believe that anything is possible.
What makes the retired British Army officer’s adventure even more thrilling is that modern technology ensures we are watching him take every giant leap for mankind.
In 1969 when the first man stepped onto the moon, we were grateful for the small grainy image, so poor in quality that it continues to spark conspiracy theories today. Now Tim tweets daily (revealing among other things that he watched the new Star Wars film on the spacecraft). His recent spacewalk was accompanied by an obligatory ‘selfie’ and he watched the England Rugby team win in the Calcutta Cup against Scotland. Time and technology has moved on.
Before he took off in the Soyuz spacecraft Tim declared that his very first objective (after six years of solid training) would be to take a look through the window. About nine minutes after launch he got his first glimpse of Earth.
“I don’t think anything can truly prepare you for that moment,” he said. “The best piece of advice I’ve been given by many astronauts who’ve flown before is to make sure you get time to look out the window, not for taking a photograph but to enjoy it for your own benefit.”
According to other space travellers, seeing the planet as a small, fragile, blue dot can change astronauts’ perspective of themselves and the world. This is called ‘the Overview Effect’, described as a ‘cognitive shift in awareness’ which forces a noticeable difference in the attitude of the beholder. Life and its meaning becomes clearer.
While it may be a phenomena usually confined to astronauts, you don’t need to travel to the moon to gain a change in perspective.
Taking a step back from the daily grind can give each of us a chance to look at things differently – even if we keep our feet firmly on the ground. You may feel your life is already mapped out but none of us can be sure of what lies ahead. When considering retirement, are you too caught up in the present to think about the future?
Perhaps your life’s objectives have changed but you’ve not yet amended your financial plan accordingly? The pensions’ landscape has altered significantly in recent years with both benefits and costs to the average saver. You should ensure your financial path is making the most of new opportunities such as the so-called pensions freedoms or passing on pensions to loved ones.
A little careful planning now could make a substantial difference to your lifestyle in later life. And once the finances are sorted, you can take on your own interesting pursuits. In the meantime, we can continue to watch Tim Peake with pride – in April he will compete in the London Marathon, albeit on a treadmill in space while orbiting the Earth at 400km/h.