How to Outsmart Big, Hairy Goals

How to Outsmart Big, Hairy Goals Em Capito, LCSW, MBA

It can be tricky to stay focused on “big, hairy, audacious goals” when it’s just you. You want to change careers, keynote at a conference, get a new degree, or retire early. Whatever it is, life has a insidious way of squeezing meaningless, time-intensive chores into every free minute. Right?

Side rant: BHAG? Really? The term Big Hairy Audacious Goals comes from Jim Collins and Jerry Poras’ phenomenal book, Built to Last. These guys are brilliant, but clearly suck at creating catchy acronyms. What about Giant Hairy Audacious Goals? Then they could be GHAG goals. Or maybe Big Woolly Audiacious Goals that we can BWAG about. There’s got to something better than BHAG.

Unfortunately, tremendous goals require tremendous action, generally sustained over long periods of time. There aren’t any sneaky hacks to slip one of those puppies in under the radar, except maybe tremendous amounts of cash.

In pursuing my own slightly crazy goals and speaking with many inspiring folks who have accomplished pretty hairy and audacious feats, there does seem to be one real competitive advantage that anyone can incorporate into their routine and immediately see their results multiply.

It’s the simple act of sharing space with someone who shares your goal and is taking action to make it happen.

That last part is pretty key because if you are hoping to lose 40 pounds and you share space with a friend who has the same goal, but all you do is talk about the latest diet over coffee and donuts, I’m sorry to say you aren’t going to get much traction.

When we share space with someone with a shared goal, our social wiring creates some interesting effects:

  1. Inspiration. The simple act of being around other people who are putting rubber on the road is inspiring. With all of their unique barriers, they are making it happen, which makes you feel more confident and excited about doing the same.
  2. Accountability. Once we admit our goal to someone else, we create an informal social contract. It sure would be embarrassing to watch them accomplish the goal while we do nothing. Each time we share space with them, there’s an expectation to share progress. It’s hard to lay down excuses when they are moving forward.
  3. Objective Learning. We learn and adapt by observing one another. We all have different talents, strengths, and ideas and we naturally benefit from observing someone else’s strategy from an objective perspective. If you are trying to run a marathon and you notice a professional runner sucking on salt, it might dawn on you to figure out why and adjust your strategy.
  4. Celebration. When our project team attained accreditation at the non-profit I worked at, nobody – NOBODY – understood how hairy and remarkable that accomplishment was, except for us. So, we celebrated the milestones and the eventual success of the project together. Folks on your some path can recognize your accomplishments like no one else.

I’ve always wanted to get in better shape, well at least since I had that first kid and then even more so after the second. But it took going to scheduled classes at the gym with a good friend to finally do it.

My current hairy priority? Getting my first manuscript drafted. I’ve gotten a lot more done since I started meeting up with a friend every Tuesday morning just to write.

What is your Whopping Intrepid Shaggy Hope?

What kind of impact would it have on your life if you made it happen? Probably a pretty immense one.

Who do you know who might share your goal? Share space at least once a week and watch your focus sharpen and your life adjust to make room for what’s important to you.

Do it now. Make your goals reality.

Image Credit: asifthebes
  1. I have some big, hairy goals to get started on. Namely unpacking the rest of my life from the last move…two years ago…and getting organized. Perhaps my spouse and I can team up or I can bribe a friend to “share my goal”. Thanks for the push!

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