We can each set a daily goal but what is your Big Hairy Audacious Goal for 2014?

“A true BHAG is clear and compelling, serves as a unifying focal point of effort, and acts as a clear catalyst for team spirit. It has a clear finish line, so the organization can know when it has achieved the goal; people like to shoot for finish lines.” —Collins and Porras, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies

Many of us have heard of a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) when it comes to business, but how often are you setting a BHAG in your personal life?

While working together to achieve a BHAG for an organisation is very important, you also need to make sure that you are setting personal goals that keep driving you – something that you will remain passionate about throughout the year. Not only will it help you build the confidence and enhance your ability to take on daily tasks but when you achieve your personal goals it will teach you more about yourself – your limits, what you are capable of, and where your goals can lead you in your future.

You may have set goals before, and this blog may be triggering a ‘been there, done that’ response, but perhaps you need to set something bigger, more challenging, and even something more worthwhile to pursue this year. After all:

‘Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.’ – Martin Luther King, Jr.

A BHAG can be different for everyone. For 2013, I learned that I was able to achieve some pretty big goals, allowing myself up to a year in advance to train and prepare, and I overcame some incredible obstacles along the way. For me it was Everest Base Camp (Nepal) and the Kokoda Trail (Papua New Guinea), and I made it back in one piece to tell the tale.

You also need to understand that the bigger the goal, the more mixed responses you will receive from others, especially from those that have yet to step outside of their own comfort zone. For many people in my life, those types of adventures were not often considered a ‘holiday experience’ and I was often told, ‘you’re crazy’ or asked, ‘why out of all places would you go there?’ Frankly I can’t blame them, because not everyone shares the same point of view.

Realisation 1: I knew that I was not achieving these goals to please everyone or show them that I could do it. These were my dreams, my challenges and my goals to achieve. At the end of the day, I knew that those closest to me and those who knew that I was passionate about achieving my goals would be there for me regardless of how unfathomable the idea may have seemed. You will come across ‘naysayers’ and difficult people at certain stages in your life, but do not hold grudges against them and instead use them as a stepping stone to help you achieve success.

Realisation 2: To achieve the goal it often has to be mind over matter. I could have the plans laid out in front of me, the best resources available, and the door of opportunity open waiting for me to walk through, but I had to make that conscious decision to step forward and keep pushing myself mentally to get there. As Sir Edmund Hillary once said, ‘It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.’

The temptation to sleep in, eat unhealthy food or make up excuses to miss training did not work in my benefit. This applies in any circumstance but the moment you realise you have done so, take the necessary measures to get back on track again and learn from your mistakes. If a similar situation arises again you can then find ways to avoid the temptation and grow stronger.

Maybe you are already a high achiever at work and for you a BHAG for this year may be to make more time to do the little things in your life that make you happy. It can be hard to make time, but will you be a more balanced and fulfilled person as a result? I think you will be quite surprised once you start making the steps to get there!

I found an article recently on Inc.com that outlined ‘What is distinctive about BHAG-driven leaders’:

The true BHAG-orientated leader is less interested in success. You’re more interested in the sheer exhilarating pain of the journey. You’re not going to have that immediate gratification of accomplishment. You are going to be immersed in it and working and suffering toward it for a long time–the way artists suffer. You have to enjoy that sense of extended discomfort. It’s the quest, it’s the training, it’s the growth, it’s pushing yourself. You really get off on that. If you think standing at the top of the cliff is where the joy is, you don’t understand it. The real joy is in all the pain and growth and suffering and creativity required long before you get to the summit.

Now a BHAG goal does not necessarily mean you need to physically climb a mountain, but there are things in our lives that appear so gigantic that they may as well be the in the same ball park. And it may even be so big that it will take you past 2014 to achieve it. But what is holding you back from starting now?

Realisation 3: It is okay to ask for help when it comes to achieving your BHAG. I have moments where I get so driven to achieve the goal that when a helping hand is offered I quickly dismiss it at the idea that ‘I must do everything on my own’. We can only juggle so much, and when I would get set back due to ‘overload’ or ‘fatigue’ it was only my pride that was bruised in the end. So what did I do to overcome this?

  • I sought out a trainer/mentor – Someone I could seek advice from and also someone that could check in on my progress so I could be held accountable. We can push ourselves, but sometimes it is great to be pushed by external forces as well. Not to mention having someone to encourage you and motivate you gives you a great amount of positive energy!
  • Taking breaks to catch up with a friend/colleague – Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the task that we don’t let our mind rest! Do something fun with someone close to you, even if it is a ten minute coffee catch up. Release, have a conversation, laugh and relax.

Even if it seems very out of focus now, write down your BHAG and let your goals mould and form into something. Don’t be afraid to tell people about your goal, no matter how crazy it may seem! Do your research, take the necessary steps to plan and prepare as well as reach inside yourself to find out what you are capable of.

Have you achieved a Big Hairy Audacious Goal before? If so, what did you have to do to achieve it? Where did it take you?