03 December 2012

Big Hairy Audacious Goals

I first came across BHAGs during the years I had a real job. In case you hadn’t guessed it from the post title BHAGs are Big Hairy Audacious Goals.

In commercial terms they’re goals intended to change how a company does business, or even the way they’re seen in the industry or profession. BHAGs are generally bigger and bolder than regular goals, and make you work way out of your comfort zone.  Now I’m not suggesting you have to go out and change your life, but maybe there’s something you really want to do, and to accomplish it is going to take a huge change.

During the time we were preparing to move to New Zealand, I found people’s reactions very interesting. We were moving to a country we’d never visited, where we didn’t know anyone, and were ‘giving up’ up good jobs in the hope we’d find something on the other side of the world. The reactions were anywhere on the scale from ‘you’ve got to be out of your minds,’ to ‘wow how great, wish I had the courage to do that.’

To be honest we'd never considered we were being courageous.  To me the early settlers were courageous, if things were bad we could get on a plane.  We saw it as a great adventure. It was something we wanted to do, and we didn’t want to reach a point where we regretted not giving it a go.

What's she talking about you’re thinking. This doesn't apply to me, I’m writing a novel, or short stories to sell to magazines.  But do you have an overall plan?  Have you decided what success looks like for you?  Will you recognise it when you get there?

I used to make goals that were more like New Year resolutions. They were fuzzy, needed more stretch than a limo, and didn’t have any actions attached to them. I wouldn’t have known when I’d achieved any of them.  

Eventually the message got through to me and I started writing down my goals.  I added steps or tasks that gave me the route to achieving each goal, and also milestones to mark significant points on the way.  I now also add how I’m going to celebrate the success of reaching that milestone.

When I first started running, Pete, the trainer, put out four small cones about 25 metres apart in a square. We ran one side of the square, walked the second, ran the third etc.  After a session of that, the square became a rectangle and we ran the long side. Then the rectangle became bigger. You get the idea. We started small and gradually worked out way up to running around the field. If Pete had told me that first time to run around the field I’d never have made it. The goals he set stretched me, but were also achievable.

Celebrate successes and enjoy the journey. It’s not all about the destination.

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