Dream Big, Act Big and Inspire Others.

 3M is proud to partner with Abigail “Astronaut Abby” Harrison to help promote STEM education and spread the word about the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. In exchange for Abby’s work with 3M we have donated funds to the a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit founded by Abigail, The Mars Generation, to support their STEM programs. 


A little about who Abby is: 

Abigail Harrison, popularly known as “Astronaut Abby”, is an aspiring astronaut with the goal to be the first astronaut to walk on Mars. In the pursuit of this goal Abigail has devoted herself to personal development as a pilot, scuba diver, skydiver, marathoner, student of Russian and Mandarin Chinese, science communicator and research astrobiologist. But beyond that, Abigail has leveraged her passion to ensure that we as a society are ready to go to Mars within her lifetime by starting The Mars Generation, a 501C3 nonprofit which focuses on exciting and inspiring young people about STEM and space exploration while also supporting them to pursue careers in those fields. Abigail has been sharing her journey towards the red planet on social media ever since she was 13 years old and is now a well known YouTuber and Instagrammer with over a million followers on her collective social media channels.


10…9…8…… and we have lift off!  I dream of this moment often. Since age 5, I’ve been staring up at the night sky, dreaming of sitting on the launch pad, floating in microgravity, and kicking up puffs of red dust when I finally walk on the surface of Mars. It has been 16 years since I first set my sights on Mars, and I’m still pursuing my dream wholeheartedly as a research astrobiologist, founder of The Mars Generation (a STEM outreach nonprofit), and as a role model and mentor through my work as “Astronaut Abby” (the moniker I use to share my journey as an aspiring astronaut with millions of people through my online social media channels and appearances at schools and events worldwide). 

My role as an influencer and worldwide STEM advocate has led to many amazing opportunities including the honor of serving as an ambassador and judge for the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge for two years in a row! I am excited to attend the final competition of the 2018 challenge in October. I cannot imagine a place I would rather be (except Mars, of course) than meeting the 10 whip-smart middle school finalists and seeing them compete for the title of America’s Top Young Scientist. In light of the upcoming competition and my own involvement as a partner (3M generously donated to TMG in exchange for my work) with the event, I want to share with you what I’ve learned about dreaming big and turning dreams into reality. I hope that you will read this, follow along during this amazing event, and be empowered to Dream Big, Act Big and Inspire Others. 


Dreaming Big: Change Your Mindset

Your dreams may feel monumental to you. That’s good. Your dreams should be big enough to challenge you. It’s important that you view the challenges with a “can do” attitude and teach yourself to believe that your out-of-this-world dreams are possible, and that you can achieve them, no matter how challenging. This is a necessary mindset shift if you want to achieve your big dreams. 

Make this shift by being LOUD and PROUD about your dreams. Gain support and confidence by sharing with others, which will help your dreams become a real part of your life in a way that doesn’t happen when you keep them to yourself. When you share your dreams, you allow others to join your journey and give people a chance to support you.


Act Big: Take the Leap

Dreaming big is important, but dreams without concrete actions will eventually fade. Dreams require consistent focus, goals, and hard work to become reality. When you’re looking at a massive dream (such as becoming an astronaut or the first person to Mars), it can be hard to know where to begin. My advice for the first step towards accomplishing any dream is to create a detailed written plan on how you will make the dream a reality. 

To create a plan, write down all the things you will need to take to make your dream a reality from beginning to end. This is an exercise in setting short term, mid-term and long-term goals for accomplishing your dreams. You will want to place approximate dates by which to accomplish each goal, and then begin to create detailed steps to reach each of these milestone. 


Inspire Others: Role Models and Mentorship 

What are the chances you’ll accomplish your big dream without the support of others? Not good. I’ve never met a successful person who accomplished their big dreams on their own. Every dreamer needs to have someone who inspires them, believes in them, and supports them. This is where role models and mentors come into play. 

Learning to seek out and utilize help is an invaluable skill. Don’t expect to just happen upon people who are going to change your life - seek them out and work to grow relationships with them. As you grow older and pursue your dreams with the help of mentors and/or a personal board of advisors, something amazing happens: you become a role model and inspire others, too! Just as you had experts to guide you, you can and should be that guidance for someone else. You have a responsibility to give back and inspire others. 


Failure Is The Only Option...

“What if I fall? Oh, but my darling what if you fly?” 

- Erin Hanson

 We all fear failure. Even the most confident and successful people fear the “what if?” scenario. What makes them successful is that they accept the fear, knowing that failure is an essential part of learning, growing and accomplishing great things. While we often only see people’s successes, wherever there is success you will find a lot of failure that came first. Successful people know that failure is the only option on a path to success and they don’t avoid it. They embrace it. 

If you are serious about making change in the world and reaching for your big dreams, you absolutely cannot allow fear of failure to stop you from trying. You will fall, scrape your knees, bruise your ego and then you will learn, adjust, move on and eventually get it right. How you adapt to failures and changes will define your success. 


The Circle of Inspiration: Dream Big. Act Big. Inspire Others. 

Every dream is different, and we all require different approaches to accomplish great things. This article is not a complete guide to achieving dreams, but it can help you work towards achieving your own goals. I developed the Circle of Inspiration: Dream Big, Act Big, Inspire Others years ago to help explain my own process and inspire others. It has become a powerful source of inspiration for many who are part of my nonprofit community, The Mars Generation, and is a part of my own success as I reach for my dreams. 

I see the Young Scientist Challenge embracing the Circle of Inspiration with all they do. Empowering dreamers to take action and become doers, and offering support and guidance along the way. Not only does the Young Scientist Challenge inspire students to create meaningful and impactful goals, it also offers a unique and powerful combination of mentorship, competition, and camaraderie, all of which are essential to success for any young person looking to make a difference in the world. The Young Scientist Challenge helps me believe that, one young dreamer at a time, we truly can change the world. Dream Big. Act Big. Inspire Others.