One of the few good memories I have from junior high school was a motivational poster that read “reach for the moon, because if you don’t make it, you’ll be among the stars.” This poster quote has rarely left the back of my mind. After all, if you shoot for the moon, but can’t quite make it, you’ll still be among the best of the best. You may not reach your initial goal, but in trying, you don’t know what else you might achieve along the way.
Whether it’s in your career or personal goals life, always push yourself to achieve more than you think you can. Shooting for the moon is easy to dismiss as far too lofty and unattainable, but as you learn as you grow, the concept behind that axiom isn’t about reaching greatness; it’s about how you get there.
First, Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
Unfortunately, many of us upon reaching adolescence allow the gravity of peer pressure and societal expectations to chain us to an existence of mediocrity, often leaving us to dream fruitless. These pressures led me to learn how to write cleverly enough to bring others into my own little private fantasy world. But, no matter how proficient I become with the written word, I still feel like building these fictional aspirations into a feasible franchise is still beyond my reach.
Still, even with my failures, developing my skills at writing gave me the ability to have a career as a freelance writer for quite some time. Today, I continue to use these skills to write the very words you’re reading now. Had I not had such grand aspirations, I never would’ve become a fraction of the writer I became. Also, you never know if your dreams will still come true; no matter how old you get, as long as you have tomorrow, there’s always another chance for a successful launch.
One of the problems with being among the stars is the cycles of success and failure that come with the territory. While you may find yourself burning bright for a time, you either get caught up back in gravity and burn up or freeze to death in the vacuum of space. Fortunately, in my experience, it’s actually possible to oscillate between the two. You can’t have success without failure, because it’s from failure that we learn what doesn’t work. Those who fail the most before they succeed often have the knowledge to prevent these failures from eventually swallowing up that success.
Where many of us fall short in our aspirations is the natural human propensity to compare ourselves to others. Our educational systems often perpetuate the mindset of comparing ourselves to our peers, and this is dangerous for those who are shooting for the moon. Being forced into competitive analysis can be hard on your self-esteem and cause you to lose motivation.
Reaching for lofty goals requires a lot of sacrifice and hard work. Keeping this in mind, don’t feel discouraged when someone else achieves something that you aren’t able to achieve right now. Instead, celebrate their achievements by focusing on what you can learn from them. Focus on your own development rather than worrying about how others measure up. Aspiring for something that seems unattainable allows you to continuously try new things and discover new opportunities in life.
Second, Don’t Make Money the Prize
If you want to set a high bar, it can be tempting to focus on financial rewards. But, those who want to take success and run with you, you have to focus on the other benefits of aiming high: such as joy and satisfaction. If your ultimate goal is material wealth, odds are that you won’t ever be satisfied with what you get.
The truth about making money is that there will always be someone else who does it faster or better than you do. That’s not to say that expecting compensation for your hard work is bad, but you need to put everything into perspective. As kids, most of us dream of things much more permanent than money. Think back to your aspirations as a child, and focus on those motivations, not those that lead to dreams of avarice. Money is a tool that can help us reach goals and acquire things we want and need; but, money in itself should never be the goal in and of itself.
It’s quite easy to get distracted from what you want in life by everyday responsibilities, and oftentimes money is a key factor in keeping the dream alive. But, instead of looking at money as an obstacle, see it for what it is, just another piece of the puzzle in achieving success. If we lose sight of our dreams, we run the risk of settling for something less than what we can be. By chasing the almighty dollar sign, our dreams are actually shoved to the side in exchange for a pursuit of a larger bank balance.
Third, Set Goals That Inspire You Instead of Scare You
In elementary school, teachers are usually more than happy to help kids set and reach for goals. Once you reach middle school and junior high, though, those who once inspired you start to order you by how you grade out among your peers. In high school, the competition becomes much more cutthroat, especially when you get into being herded towards college applications.
In adulthood, the story gets much more difficult to swallow. Once you get that high school diploma, you’re expected to acquire one degree after another before even being given a chance at career success. Once you finally acquire all of the certification and validation to even get that interview, you find out the work world is nothing like what our child selves imagine.
In fact, many workplaces discourage employees from setting high targets. That’s because many of today’s team leaders to assume that by demanding too much from their team, they’ll set them up to fail and risk losing confidence in their own abilities. We often tell ourselves that we’re more realistic when we aim low. But, you need to see that this is a philosophy born out of fear. We all have these fears of failure, that we won’t measure up or won’t have what it takes. But, we should be using these fears as motivation to strive for more, not for less.
One piece of advice many career advisers give to both new and seasoned professionals who feel stuck is to remember why you got into your field in the first place. No matter the industry, those who have been working at it for more than five years start to lose sight of their initial motivations. Stress and financial motivations make them forget what they started out doing. Stay on track than making sure that you’re always striving toward something greater. Whether it’s starting a business or investing in a new skill, setting seemingly unreachable goals keeps us driven.
Lastly, Always Remember to Look Up When You’re Down
It may seem easy to keep your head down and grind through life. But, when you reach back to grasp at the shining stars above, you’ll have a better view of your true potential. Success isn’t about getting there as fast as possible; it’s about always remembering what your goal is, while never giving up. You won’t get anywhere if you don’t try. After all, every failure makes success that much sweeter.
When was there ever such thing as an overnight success? Even if you think someone made it overnight, you often have no idea about the hard work, dedication, and persistence it took to achieve that success. Maybe a little luck is necessary, but by reaching up and aiming higher, you can greatly improve your odds. Next time you feel stuck in life, look up to the night sky, and ask yourself, how can I do something great?