Set a Big, Hairy Audacious Goal

Big-GoalsSetting a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) can be exciting and energizing. Until, of course, it turns into hard work and sacrifice.

“Goals are one of the most misused and abused concepts in business and life today. Quite often, they’re set but not met…. As a result, goal outcomes are often lowered until they are met or scrapped entirely in favor of new ones; …and the fruitless goal cycle begins anew.” ~ Michael J. Burt and Colby B. Jubenville, PhD, Zebras & Cheetahs: Look Different and Stay Agile to Survive the Business Jungle (Wiley, 2013)

First proposed by Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras in Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies (HarperBusiness, 2004), the term refers to a visionary goal that’s emotionally compelling.

A great BHAG drives us to realize achievements that exceed our expectations. It facilitates focus, concentration and the ability to ignore distractions. In simple terms, BHAGs help make our dreams come true.

But without proper exploration, planning and prioritizing, you may end up setting the wrong goal — one that can lead to disappointment, disillusionment, and a drain on energy and motivation. This type of failure makes it hard to start over again.

Motivating Mind and Heart

An effective BHAG motivates your mind (what you know you should do) and heart (what you care about most). It sufficiently challenges your abilities, without making tasks impossible.

Before setting a BHAG, examine your values, beliefs and purpose with a trusted accountability partner or coach [link]. Once you determine what matters most (career, family, community), your goal — a natural extension of your values — will become clearer.

But goal setting is not for sissies. It requires sacrifices: time, money and energy. Are you willing to overlook distractions, guard your time and energy, and resist old habits and routines? How far will you go to actualize your big goal?

In the work I do coaching people, we spend considerable time selecting the right goal with the right amount of challenge. If it’s too challenging, people give up too soon. If it’s not challenging enough, they get bored and won’t sustain efforts.

Most important, you should focus on what you care about the most. Make sure you really value what you decide to go after. When the going gets tough, which it always does, your passion and drive will carry you through.

What’s been one of your goal experiences that really paid off for you? I’d love to hear from you.

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