What is a BHAG and Why It Will Make a Huge Difference For You

What is a BHAG and Why It Will Make a Huge Difference For You

How To Create a BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal)

big hairy audacious goal

What’s your approach to goal-setting?

How do you feel about setting goals? Are you a goal-fanatic, setting goals each year, quarter and month?  Or, do you avoid goals altogether, thinking “why bother?”

I used to set goals regularly but then I took a long time off from that process, thinking that it was a waste of time. I thought there were so many things out of my control so “why bother setting a goal, it won’t happen anyway.”

I had counted myself out before I even started. 

Have you ever done that to yourself, counted yourself out before you ever started?

Then a mentor told me to try a BHAG.  What’s a BHAG, that sounds like a 

  • scary witch?
  • old lady in a shoe?
  • some kind of handbag or purse?
  • a technical or
  • a medical term?

“No”, she explained, it’s a “Big Hairy Audacious Goal,” a goal that scares you. A goal so big that you can’t imagine ever accomplishing it, but would be ecstatic if you did.

Has anyone ever told you to set a BHAG?  Have you tried it?

What is a BHAG?

A BHAG is an idea from Built to Last, Jim Collins’ classic business book. It stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goal.

Why does a Big Hairy Audacious Goal work?

Are you wondering why set a BHAG and why would it work for you?

big hairy audacious goal

  1. A BHAG gives you something really important to focus on, something meaningful. It’s not a small, safe goal that really doesn’t mean much in the big picture.
  2. A BHAG works because it’s so big that you know you most likely won’t achieve it all, and so that takes the pressure off.  
  3. The Big Hairy Audacious Goal should be so big that if you only achieved 50% of your BHAG goal, it would mean accomplishing more than accomplishing 100% of a ‘realistic’ goal!
  4. It lets you dream again, to really pinpoint what matters most.
  5. It helps you to focus on making progress toward the big picture, toward the goals and dreams that mean to much to you. It might take longer to reach than a simple, achievable, realistic goal and that’s okay.

It’s not a SMART Goal (and that’s good)

Have you heard of a SMART goal? They’re really popular and commonly recommended. SMART stands for 

  • Specific (simple, sensible, significant)
  • Measurable (meaningful, motivating)
  • Achievable (agreed, attainable)
  • Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based)

But, these goals are often too small and ‘slam dunks.’ They are safe. They don’t move the needle in the big picture, and don’t catapult you to your bigger dreams. In short, the SMART goals aren’t likely to get you close to your dreams.

Do you have goal fatigue?

It is so common to have goal fatigue. 

Are you so exhausted from day-to-day life, you can’t imagine finding the time and energy to even think about setting a Big Hairy Audacious Goal, let alone spending the time to make it happen?

Why set a goal at all (psst….you might fail and that’s a good thing)?

How to set a BHAG Goal

Have you fallen short on goals in the past and don’t want to ‘fail’ again? You might feel safer and less vulnerable if you skip goal-setting altogether.

What if you looked at failure differently? This is a larger topic (for another post), but what if you went with the saying “if you’re not failing, you’re not trying.” So many of us have grown up with the idea that failure is BAD and we should do everything we can to avoid failing.

Go for it

Go for it.  Set a goal so big, a Big Hairy Audacious Goal, that you will almost certainly fail (at least fail some of it). This approach releases the pressure and allows you to focus on something that will truly matter, when you do accomplish it, and you will keep going.

So, what will your BHAG be?

Set aside some quiet time, preferably earlier in the morning before the craziness of the day sucks away your ability to think (well, that might be a little dramatic, but do you know that feeling?).  

Sit down and dream out a goal so crazy that you can’t imagine it ever happening. Write it down. Put some detail around it:

  • What is the goal?
  • What does it mean to you to accomplish it?
  • What does it mean to your family that you accomplished it?
  • How do you feel when you accomplished it?
  • Who are you with when you accomplished it? Or, who did you tell first?
  • What time of year is it when you accomplished the BHAG?
  • Detail it all out.

Create your plan to reach the BHAG

After you’ve described your Big Hairy Audacious Goal in great detail, write out a list of every step and action that you need to take to make the BHAG happen. 

Then, order all the steps into a sequence. 

And, finally, tackle some of the plan each day. Set aside as much time as you can devote, amongst your other priorities, and do the work you need to do.

Set Up Accountability for Yourself

The biggest ‘game-changer’ for me has been setting up accountability systems. Finding a partner or a group that you tell your goals to, tell them your plans, and then keep each other on track. I know for me, if I have told someone else I’m going to do something, I am much more big hairy audacious goallikely to follow through with the activity. When I keep it to myself, I find my goals slipping as my mind takes over and tries to keep me firm in the comfort zone.

Does accountability work for you? Have you tried it, either in a group format or one-on-one?

If you’re looking for an accountability group, book a free mini session with me. We can put a plan in place for you.  SCHEDULE FREE MINI SESSION

Other Resources

For goal-setting, check out these posts, they offer some helpful suggestions for you (in my humble opinion 😉)

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