My lovely husband is very useful in all sorts of ways. He makes a mean fajita, he irons better than I do, and he brings me a cup of tea in bed every single morning. He also, every now and again, rocks back home from work with little snippets of information from his day that prove to be just a teeny tiny bit life changing. Now that IS useful.
It was on one of these days a few years ago that he was filling me in on what he’d been up to – on this occasion a leadership course with some pretty fancy high profile people. And quite casually, he dropped the term Big Hairy Audacious Goal into the conversation, like it wasn’t something that was going to change my life.
Have you ever heard of it? I really, really hadn’t. It was devised by two guys called James Collins and Jerry Porras in the 90’s and it is a strategic business statement; like a vision but with more strategy so that a business has something to hook onto. Crucially, it is a medium to long term thing, which is audacious, perhaps questionable but the people involved believe it is possible. Basically it is as far away from the SMART goals I grew up on as you can get. Its also a hugely popular management idea and there are books and websites full of information about it.
Now, I love a goal. And I LOVE the idea of an audacious goal, one that other people may think is bonkers but which you truly believe may just be possible. And so I adopted this idea for myself. Not for a business of mine, but for my life.
So I now have a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (or BHAG, if you like) all of my own. Actually, I have two (apparently that’s allowed) – one all of my own, and one jointly with my husband (there aren’t any legal papers or anything, but I think that’s fine). They have names and everything. And no one else knows what they are. No one else needs to. They’re just hanging around in the background, chucking motivation in my direction whenever the need arises, not making a scene or anything, just chilling. They even have their own Pinterest boards, which are obviously secret ones. They have their own notebook too, where I jot down anything that helps me or us work towards achieving them. I can honestly say I would not be without them now.
So, do you need a BHAG in your life? Lets look at what having one of your very own could do for you….(please note, I’m talking life here, not business, that’s not my bag and I’m no expert)
- It makes you really stop and think about where you want your life to go. What do you want your life to look like in 10, 20, 30 years? That’s probably your vision, but add a bit more detail (and a bit more audacity) – what do you want to be achieving at that point? And if you really pushed yourself, what could you achieve? Now you’re getting close. For me, thinking about this has unlocked a bit of ambition I never knew I had, and made me believe I can make a dream a reality with a bit of focus.
- It gives all the ‘to-do’ lists a bit of perspective. Now, there are obviously things I have to get done as part of everyday life, but when it comes to some of the ‘shoulds’ there are things I can let go, as they aren’t important in the long term.
- It places less emphasis on small failures. When things go wrong, or not according to plan, it seems less catastrophic if there is a long term overview. For me, it turns things that would previously have been a major problem into more of a minor blip, and these are way easier to contend with.
- It can help you to take risks. For us, we have stepped off the housing ladder as part of a bigger picture. Cue gasps of horror and worried questions from family, as we aren’t doing things in the expected manner. We, however have a long view in mind and this is simply all part of the plan.
- It can make you compare yourself less to others. We are at a life stage now where everyone around us is buying BIG houses, or extending with fabulous bi-folding doors, or upgrading their cars,or hiring cleaners; the list goes on. We, however are not doing any of those things right now, and people have been asking a few questions both to our faces and amongst themselves. In the past I would have felt pressure to perhaps be amongst them, doing the same things or perhaps even done some of them without really thinking it through. No longer though, as my BHAG is hovering behind me, reminding me of what I really want to achieve and that I would only be disappointing myself if I gave into the pressure of comparison.
So have a think. If you could, what would you really want to achieve? Could having a BHAG hanging around in your life help you to get there? Let me know.