Career Resources and Coaching for Smart Women

The JFK Career Effect And Why You Need A Space Program

“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”

-John F. Kennedy, 1962

When JFK said this, a few people probably had a hilarious inner monologue that went something like this: “What’s that now?! Go where? When? Whoa there tough guy…just take a breath for a second. Should we go back to Eisenhower? He seems like a good man on the golf course.”

It was a big, hairy, audacious and incredible goal.  For many, it was probably not “that’s incredible!” good way, but more like “ummm, that’s incredible?”

Flash forward to 1969: we all know what happened when Neil Armstrong took a small step for man and a giant leap for mankind.  The bold, awesome, almost crazy statement of 1962 was proved true.  The hilarious inner monologues were silenced. And something that seemed beyond comprehension for many just a few years before was about to become an easy reality.

I love this story because JFK did something amazing with a simple spoken word – he created a common inspiring goal, and by saying it publicly aloud he started on the path to making that goal a reality.

This story is important.

This story is important because we so rarely remember to dream big in our careers.  We dream about a 3% increase or a few more vacation days, and we forget to dream about work that we love or what would make us feel crazy alive in the world.

When was the last time that you sat down and made a bold statement about what you want next in your career, and put a timeline on it? When was the last time you really thought audaciously about what your next job could look like or who you could work with or for?

When was the last time you made a statement about your life that made you feel incredible, excited, and afraid with your inner monologue saying: “wow. That’s… incredible? I mean, wait – that’s INCREDIBLE!”

I know that what I am asking isn’t easy. In fact, it’s NOT easy.  Your first thought might be: “All I really want right now is a better commute, and maybe a new desk lamp.  I honestly don’t need the moon in my life this very second.” And I get that.

Work can distract you.

When you have bills to pay, when you aren’t sure of what your next step should be, when you are tired, or drained, or annoyed by work…it’s not easy to find the energy to start flinging around bold career statements.

It’s sooooo much easier to sit on the couch and plan for your next 3% increase. Maybe buy new shoes? Maybe plan for a vacation or that new tv?

Here’s the thing though: you are the person who cares the most for your career.  And even though you might not be ready for it, at some point, your walk on the moon is waiting for you.  You have an impossible, exciting, awesome, and incredible goal hidden inside you.  It may be 5 years out, it may be 10 years out, but it’s out there.

Isn’t it worth spending some time daydreaming about it? And then really thinking about how to do it, and then (and this is the really scary bit), actually writing it down and saying it out loud.

Just for you at first, the rest of the world can come later.

But give yourself a chance to find your moon walk and found your personal Apollo program.  Your vision and excitement. Your own path to motivation.

And if you are sitting there, shrugging your shoulders and saying “ummm yeah, easier said than done” not to worry. Let me do a part of my job and dream big for you, so here are some goals to get you started:

“I’m going to run this company in 10 years.”

“I’m going to build something new and re-design this office workflow”

“I’m going to solve a problem and create my own business.”

“My work is going to take me to meet the Dalai Lama.”

“I’m going to get published in Forbes.”

And then think bigger.

And then when you feel scared but excited, write it down.  And not just as a sentence (though that would be a really cool first step) Write it as an EPIC story.  The story of you, your goal, and how you got there.

Making it into a story, even if it feels really far-fetched, is a great way to convince your mind as to what is possible.  It’s an underhanded way to get you thinking positively about your potential, and more importantly, to get you thinking about opportunity.  It’ll also inspire you – get you interested in YOU, and potentially even inspire you to share and get some accountability.

It’s a 10 minute exercise in word vomit.  You’ve got 10 minutes, right? (And if you need a kick in the pants, here is one tough motivational talk!)

You can do this!


*share this article below if you liked it.  Go on, spread the moon-love.