You probably already know how important it is to set and achieve your BIG goals in life…
But it’s not enough for your goals to just be “BIG”.
They must also be Hairy.
Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals (“BHAG”).
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What in the world is a BHAG?
“BHAG” is an acronym coined by two Stanford professors in their book, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies.
The authors sought to discover what exceptional, long-lasting companies had that their competitors did not.
One thing the authors found was that the most successful companies had a habit of setting big, hairy, audacious goals – BHAGs.
Set Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals.
Here is an example of a clear and concise BHAG created by General Electric:
“To become #1 or #2 in every market we serve and revolutionize this company to have the speed and agility of a small enterprise.”
A BHAG is long-term and ambitious.
It’s so big, so daring, so challenging, so daunting that it seems almost impossible to reach.
But because it is also compelling, it energizes you and motivates you into action.
A BHAG stimulates progress despite its intimidating nature because even though it will take a long time to achieve, the objective is clear.
There is no doubt as to what the goal is. You will know when it has been achieved. And you really want to achieve it.
The first step towards achieving your Big Goal is defining it. Do you know what your BHAG is?
Can You Achieve Your Big Goals in Life?
Related post: How to Reach Your Goals Without Getting Stressed Out
Once you define your BHAG, think of all the changes that need to take place in order for it to actually happen.
If you choose to make those changes, then even if you don’t feel like you can achieve your Big Goal right now, you will develop habits that will facilitate your success.
Because you’re in it for the long haul, you’ll become accustomed to failure and rejection. You’ll see failures as learning opportunities and fear as fuel for success.
You will have confidence in your ability to achieve your goals.
That confidence will support you when things don't go your way and you have to adapt in order to keep creating a life you love.
See failures as learning opportunities and fear as fuel for success.
With your Big Goal in mind, you’ll continue to enact the habits of success that are necessary to achieve it no matter what adversity comes your way.
You will become more resilient.
The type of person who is capable of achieving that big, hairy, audacious goal.
“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
So, you know what your Big Goal is, and you know you can achieve it. But, how?
Before we get to the secret to reaching your big goals in life, there is something you must do first ...
Make Sure Your Big Goal Aligns with Your Purpose
Does your BHAG align with your purpose?
If it doesn’t, it is unlikely that you will achieve it because eventually you will lose motivation. And even if you did, you wouldn’t feel the sense of accomplishment and success that you’re striving for.
That’s why it’s absolutely necessary to know your “why” when defining (and pursuing) your BHAG.
Why do you want to achieve that particular Big Goal?
“He who has a why can endure any how” -Friedrich Nietsche
When the going gets tough, your “why” will be the thing that keeps you going.
So, make sure you are clear on your why by asking yourself two questions:
Are you setting a goal that will help you realize your vision of success, not society’s or someone else’s?
Your definition of success may be different from your parents’, your partner’s, your friends’ or society’s. Make sure your goal aligns with your purpose, not someone else’s.
Think about what you want to accomplish before you die and what you want to be remembered for.
What would improve your life?
What you would do if you knew you couldn't fail?
Do you know what your passion/purpose is and how will your unique strengths help you fulfill it?
The answers to these insightful questions will help you set goals that will advance you on your own path to fulfillment.
Are you setting an intrinsic goal?
As opposed to an extrinsic goal, which is focused on obtaining something for the purposes of external validation, an intrinsic goal is one that you want to achieve because it means something to you personally.
Because it has intrinsic value, you are much more likely to achieve it!
But, with an intrinsic goal, it’s not just about the outcome, it’s also about the process.
It's not just about the outcome. It's also about the process.
It can take a long time to achieve your Big Goals. It would be a shame to overlook the enormous value of the process itself by looking at is as only a means to an end.
So, What’s the Secret to Achieving Your Big Goals in Life?
Now that you’ve got an intrinsic BHAG that aligns with your purpose, it’s time to go about achieving it.
What is chunking?
Chunking is the process of breaking down your Big Goal into the smaller tasks required to achieve it.
For example, let’s say that your Big Goal is to make a living working from home so that you can spend more time with your family.
There are a lot of underlying tasks that you will have to accomplish in order to reach that life goal.
Continue to break down the underlying tasks into smaller and smaller tasks.
The idea is to be doing something every day that gets you closer to achieving your Big Goal.
“Goals become actions. Actions become results.”- Brian Tracy
It may help you to make sure that the small tasks meet the “S.M.A.R.T. goal” criteria.
If you’re not familiar with what a S.M.A.R.T. goal is, here is a little review:
“S.M.A.R.T. goals” is concept that was developed by management consultant George T. Doran in a 1981 paper, “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives”.
In it, he explains that writing meaningful objectives (S.M.A.R.T. goals) is the key to effectively achieving results as a manager.
The concept of S.M.A.R.T. goals applies, and has been promoted, in many areas other than management.
Over the years, several variations of its definition have developed.
My favorite definition (and the most applicable for achieving your Big Goals in my opinion) is:
Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.
- Specific: is your goal specific?
- Measurable: will you be able to track your progress?
- Attainable: is the goal attainable, given your available resources?
- Relevant: is the goal relevant to your purpose?
- Time-bound: when will the goal be achieved?
Also, note that Doran specifically says, “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives”.
That’s because writing your goals down on paper makes them more concrete, more tangible, more real.
And studies have shown that writing your goals down significantly increases your chances of achieving them.
How does chunking help you to achieve your big goal?
No matter where you are in life or how impossible it seems to get where you want to be, you can achieve your Big Goals in life by chunking them down.
Chunking helps you achieve your Big Goal by making it:
When you don’t know what you’re working towards, how can you work towards it?
You don’t even know where you’re going or what you’re trying to achieve.
Chunking your Big Goal down requires you to get specific and clearly define your goal, so you know exactly what you are trying to achieve.
Remember that the “S” in S.M.A.R.T. goals stands for Specific.
That’s because you are more likely to achieve goals that are clear and concrete than those that are general or vague.
So, ask yourself the 5 “W” questions (who, what, when where and why) when it comes to your Big Goal. The more specific you are, the more likely you are to achieve it.
Your BHAG can be quite intimidating. It’s supposed to be. After all, it’s a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal.
But, just staring at that daunting goal day after day is not going to help you achieve it.
It’ll probably just increase your anxiety and make you feel overwhelmed. You may even start to think things like, “This goal is impossible. What was I thinking? I can’t do this!”
But, if you chunk down that Big Goal into smaller tasks, you will be more likely to achieve it because it will be more manageable.
When it's more manageable, it's more achievable.
Conclusion: Small goals = Big success
Small goals = Big Success
When you chunk down your Big Goal into smaller and smaller tasks, you eventually get to the daily level - where you are doing something every single day to move yourself closer towards achieving it.
These habits are the foundation for your success.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”
Anyone who sets out to achieve Big Goals in life will likely encounter some obstacles like fear, self-doubt, criticism and failure.
In the face of such adversity, you need to be persistent, adaptable and resilient.
By showing up day after day and repeatedly accomplishing those underlying tasks, you are strengthening those qualities within yourself.
Each day, you are getting closer and closer to achieving your BHAG.
And because you are the (awesome) kind of person to go after a Big, Hairy, Audacious goal, something miraculous happens.
You prove to yourself that you can achieve your Big Goals in life and you do.
Over to you – What’s your BHAG? Let me know in the comments!
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