Aiming For the Stars (Literally) With Goal Setting

I’ll admit it: I’m a bit of a nerd.  I enjoy technology, science, and astronomy (or anything space-related).  On October 8th, Christmas comes early for me as I’ll be getting a mix of all three.  In case you haven’t heard, Felix Baumgartner will attempt the highest skydive to-date from the edge of space, 23 miles above Earth’s surface.  This follows two successful test jumps from approximately 13.5 miles and 18 miles up from earlier this year.

You might be thinking Felix is a little (or extremely) crazy.  After all, the dangers he faces are very real.  He has to worry about the typical issues of halo jumping such as the lack of oxygen or possible parachute problems.  At that altitude, the air is so thin that it’s near-impossible to steady yourself in the initial freefall.  Joseph Kittinger, the current record holder for the highest freefall at 19 miles from 1960, lost pressure in one of his gloves during his record-breaking descent, and his hand swelled up to twice its normal size.  Felix also has the added challenge of becoming the first human to break the sound barrier with just his body.  Even though he will be wearing a special suit designed by NASA engineers, some of the effects are unknown in terms of what will happen to his body once he breaks that barrier.

If Felix succeeds, not only will he have helped NASA study the effects of this freefall for future emergency low-orbit bailout systems, but he will have pushed the bar even higher in terms of what the human race is capable of.  These types of record-breaking events don’t come that often, so it’s great to see someone facing a challenge of this magnitude.      

After thinking about how far Felix has come, I’ve thought about his overall goal and how’s he’s reached this point.  While he may have not been thinking about this acronym, he did set a SMART goal for himself:

S – Specific and measurable: If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. - Felix set a goal to be the first individual to jump from 120,000 feet above Earth’s surface.

M – Motivating: What’s in it for the person? – If Felix succeeds, not only will he have the glory of holding this record, he will be helping in advancing future space travel safety.  He’ll also have the wildest ride of his life.

A – Attainable: If people think they can’t, they give up at the start. – Felix wouldn’t be getting ready for this jump if he thought he couldn’t do it.  I’m sure being a bit of an adrenaline junky helps.

R – Relevant: Why bother if it won’t make a difference? – This jump is another step forward in us becoming masters of our universe.  The data collected from this jump will make an impact on future space exploration.

T – Trackable: How will you know if you’re making progress? – He’s already completed two tests from staggering heights.  The space capsule, the suit, and even himself have all been tested in preparation for the final freefall. 

Sometimes, when we create goals for ourselves or others, we don’t think about the factors that make up a SMART goal.  If we can’t satisfy one or more of those factors, we may never achieve those goals.  If Felix’s original goal wound up being slightly different and didn’t meet one of those requirements, we might not be waiting in anticipation for October 8th

I’ve included videos Red Bull released from the two test flights.  While they don’t have shots of the actual freefalls (I’m sure Red Bull is saving that for the actual 23-mile decent), both contain some pretty amazing shots from the upper atmosphere:

Keep an eye out on the news following October 8th.  The video will likely be amazing knowing Red Bull. 

This blogger is rooting for you, Felix!

As always, be sure to leave your comments!

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