By Matthew Friedman
When I was a small boy, I dreamed that I would someday write a novel. I remember thinking about the plot, visualizing my characters, and even outlining an exciting ending. I don’t recall if I ever told anyone about this dream. I suppose I never mentioned it because I thought people would think it was silly or stupid. I was never much of a student, so how could someone like me achieve such a great feat?
For those who knew me, the idea would be hugely ambitious and completely unrealistic, and in fact, many people would have said it simply couldn’t be done. For this reason, it remained my own little secret.
For many years, because I didn’t give any life to this goal, it didn’t come true. For any dream to take shape, there first needs to be a grand plan and I didn’t have one. One famous example of the importance of a grand plan was the Apollo mission to the moon. When NASA was first established in 1959, this new space agency really didn’t have a specific goal.
At this time in history, the USSR was ahead of the United States in its space program. NASA’s primary role was to catch up with its “cold war” rival. But all this changed in 1961, when President Kennedy made a speech in which he said: “the USA should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” Once this challenge was accepted, NASA finally had a clearly defined purpose.
For most, this “moon goal” was right on the borderline between being hugely ambitious and completely unrealistic, and many people said it simply couldn’t be done. But a full range of experts with many technical abilities, problem-solving skills, and pioneering ideas came together as one to make this vision happen.
Despite the overwhelming obstacles, in 1969 Neil Armstrong landed on the moon and returned back safely. This incredible feat was considered one of mankind’s major achievements of all time.
The importance of the “moon goal” is that it achieved two things – first, it provided NASA with a very clear, ambitious mandate to shoot for, and second, it offered an opportunity for NASA to reach its full potential.
So what if someone were to ask you: “What is your primary goal in life?” Not just any goal – but your equivalent to a “moon goal.” Something that would be considered so big and so important that one might say it is on the borderline between hugely ambitious and completely unrealistic.
I’ve asked this question to many people. The most common response I hear is: “My goal is to be the best parent I could be,” or “…the best person I could be.” While these are clearly noble things to aspire for, they don’t represent a “moon goal.”
A personal moon goal would be something a person has wanted to do or achieve in his or her life – like publishing a book, running a marathon, setting up a business, becoming an artist, and more. Our moon goal is our personal dream that is completely unique to each of us.
So why is this question important? Why should any of us have such a goal in life? Over the years, many people I know begin to get old and then one day wake up and realize they never did anything to reach their dreams. They got tied up in school, marriage, family, career choices, and along the way, their dreams got completely lost and left behind.
For others, they never tried because they didn’t have enough faith in their own God-given abilities. They gave up before even making an effort. Many of these people regret that they never gave their dreams a fighting chance. It doesn’t matter who we are, each and every one of us has the ability to achieve amazing feats.
But what prevents us from doing so is often the absence of our own unique moon goal. How can we make this happen? First, we need to revive that goal and commit to making it happen. Second, we need to plan how we will achieve this goal. Without a plan, a dream is just a dream. Third, we need to get over our fears of inadequacy and believe in ourselves. And finally, we need to roll up our sleeves and make it happen.
None of these things are easy. But for something this big, it shouldn’t be easy. This is your moon goal – the big one.
Despite my many fears and obstacles, I woke up one day at the age of 32, and decided I needed to reach my moon goal, to write a book. Ten years later, I have five novels in print and more on the way.
There is absolutely nothing unique or special about me. I’m like everyone else. The only difference between me and so many others is that I committed myself to achieve my goal and I did everything I could to make it happen. Dare to dream. And once you have your dream, dare to make it happen. As Neil Armstrong so eloquently said: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Matt’s new vision report on how the business sector can reach its moon goal in eliminating slavery:
Matt’s op-ed on how the business sector can reach its moon goal in eliminating slavery:
BIO of our guest blogger: Matt Friedman is an international human trafficking expert with more than 29 years’ experience as a manager, program designer, evaluator and frontline responder. He is currently Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of The Mekong Club, an organization of Hong Kong-based private sector business leaders who have joined forces to help fight human trafficking in Asia.
Mr. Friedman was previously Regional Project Manager at the United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking (UNIAP) in Thailand, an inter-agency coordinating body that linked the United Nations system with governments and civil society groups in China, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. Prior to this, he worked for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Thailand, Bangladesh and Nepal where he designed and managed country and regional human trafficking programs. Mr. Friedman also offers regular technical advice to numerous governments and corporation working to stop slavery, and is the author of 12 books.