The Real, Unspoken Costs of Aiming for the Moon – Part One
I have a huge issue with Norman Vincent Peale’s statement, “shoot for the moon, as if you miss, you’ll land in the stars”. I know that Norman meant well. But in the decades since he coined that popular phrase, we’ve learned a lot more about motivation.
That saying may be true for astronauts. It may also inspire some people to stretch and try harder. Unfortunately, though, for so many people it has huge negative consequences, especially for parents and for kids.
Shooting for the moon is a killer goal for most moms. The possibility of landing in the stars sounds great, but it is not the norm to aim high and reach an even higher goal. The much, much more common occurrence is to aim high, and end up not even getting off the earth’s surface.
Countless numbers of parents I’ve worked with struggle with feeling discouraged and hopeless. They can’t see how they, or their children, will ever hit the moon, let alone the stars. With such a lofty goal, everything attainable can seem like a failure.
It’s so sad. These parents are unable to enjoy the many significant achievements that are possible for them. Their many successes each day seem too small to be worth celebrating. They feel like a failure because their kid isn’t in line to be the next concert pianist, corporate litigator or YouTube sensation.
It’s such a vicious circle! If we aren’t celebrating our wins and encouraging ourselves, we soon will find it harder to give the extra effort that’s often needed to do good things in the world, let along great things. Study after study has shown that setting our sites to a goal that is a stretch, but not on our outer reaches of what’s possible, is what gets us the momentum we need to reach higher and higher goals.
I first learned about the power of aiming lower, when I was in college. I went to see a counselor after the death of my younger brother. I was ready to quit university. I knew I was bright. I’d also just come from an international school where I’d been chosen to represent my province, in part because of my academic abilities. Yet in the year before my brother died, I’d started bombing out.
I was given a Psychology Today article that I still have, called the Perfectionists’ Script for Self-Defeat by Dr. David Burns. I’ll tell you more about that next week, and share how it turned my life around. I’ve made quite a study of motivation since then. I love imparting these ideas because they are such a game changer for parents. Never has a generation been more perfectionistic about our expectations for ourselves, and for our kids. And never has parenting been going more poorly. While there are other causes for the parenting mess we are in, too high standards is a big contributing factor.
In another tip, I share the powerful trick to choosing a goal that motivates you or your child. It’ll transform your family! Everything will become more fun and enjoyable, all because you quit shooting for the moon.