The moon is not a star
Something about this particular quote has always puzzled me and I don’t think I quite agree with it.
Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.
I can see why people are motivated by this quote as it implies that you shouldn’t despair or give up, but at the same time, it’s almost telling you to expect failure rather than saying, ‘it’s OK’. It’s sort of implying that even if you miss the moon, you’ll be OK, and at least you got somewhere. (This post is an interesting take on the quote.)
The thing is, a lot of people deliberately set themselves up for disappointment simply to avoid being in a slump if things don’t go as well as they had wished. It isn’t necessarily the same as setting the bar lower, but it’s something that humans do to feel good about themselves in a cautious way. It’s like trying new things. A lot of us don’t want to go all out, so we change one small thing at a time.
It works for habits, it works for lifestyle changes, it works for learning things.
But it doesn’t work for dreams.
What is a dream?
What is a dream? Well, I’ll be damned. I’d be lying if I said I knew exactly what a dream was. But this is what I do know. It’s not the fact that you wanted to be a vet when you were six years old and imagining yourself as an adult. It’s not that early-bird way of life that you are struggling to try and work towards. It’s not that thing in the back of your mind that you want to do one day but aren’t really doing anything about.
A dream is not just one object
A dream is not just something you want to do, or a kind of person you want to become, or a place you want to go, or the journey you take getting there.
Most people can say what their dream is in one sentence. A dream encompasses all of the above in a complete state of being. You know why you want to be there. You know what you want to be. You know who you are going to be when you achieve that dream. You know when. Maybe not exactly, but you know that it will happen some time in the near future, be it a couple of months, a year, a couple of years. You have it all planned out, down to the days and to the smaller bits and pieces that only you could possibly care about. It’s your dream. You have it fleshed out in ways other people find unimaginable. It’s time spent dreaming the dream.
The moon: Our dream as a construct
The moon is what you aim for. But why aim for just the moon? Just because you can sum up your dream in one sentence, doesn’t mean that you tie yourself to that one important sentence.
So why the moon? I’m not saying that you should aim further or bigger. I’m not saying you should go for the Milky Way or Jupiter. It’s not about distance or size. When man landed on the moon, they landed with the moon as their destination. Just the moon.
The moon is a construct. It’s a construct for the one sentence that sums up your dream. It’s your dream expressed in one sentence as one object. It’s impeccable, beautiful, everything you could ever want. It’s perfect. But you know that that’s not all there is to it. It’s not just ‘I want to live in San Francisco’, or ‘I want to be a geologist’, or ‘I want to have written a book in the next five years’. Your dream is much more than that. It’s got infinite possibilities. It’s a web of paths, a series of hardships, a lot of potential, and potential downfall, and it’s pain, gain, emotions and strength. It’s self-discovery, a journey, a whole story to tell. Your dream is a network of all of these nodes.
So forget the moon.
If you shoot for the moon, it’s already out of your reach.
The moon stops being a dream.
You lose your dream.
Shoot for the stars, because that’s where the dream is
I always tell people, ‘Shoot for the stars’. That’s it. To just do it. Nothing else, just shoot for the stars. No measurement or distance or a why or how.
Just ‘Shoot for the stars’.
Remember your dream?
It’s that state of being.
You know why you want to be there.
You know what you want to be.
You know who you are going to be when you achieve that dream.
You know when. Maybe not exactly, but you know that it will happen some time in the near future, be it a couple of months, a year, a couple of years.
You have it all planned out, down to the days and to the smaller bits and pieces that only you could possibly care about.
It’s your dream. You have it fleshed out in ways other people find unimaginable.
It’s all of the above.
And that’s why your dream is in the stars.