Ever heard of BHAG’s (Big Hairy Audacious Goals)? They are the norm in many corporate goal setting sessions, especially when a new CEO is appointed and wants to make their mark. BHAG’s are goals that are big, exciting, scary, and get you out of your comfort zone. As the CEO of the work you do, and certainly your life, what’s your BHAG for 2013?
With New Year’s resolutions around the corner, ever stop to think about why they are called “resolutions”? We resolve (the word implies serious discipline and effort). We visualize ourselves gritting our teeth, enduring pain and struggle, to finally cross the finish line to glory. However, many of us are never really able to get to the finish line because we don’t muster up the discipline to stick with it. What if there was a different way of setting goals? What if it required less pain and greater joy? What if it increased odds of success? Would you be interested?
Here are 3 steps to consider to make your BHAG’s to what I call BJAG’s (Big, Joyous, Authentic Goals).
1) Big – Pick one area where you will set a BIG goal, something exciting that will definitely push you outside of your comfort zone. We usually set goals in multiple areas (Business/Career, Personal Health/Wellbeing, Family, Community, Finances). That’s good. But generally we either set BIG goals in every area (“I will lose 30 lbs, be promoted to the corner office, win the Emmy’s and the Nobel Peace Prize, and be voted Star Mom”) or we set goals that are all incremental that don’t push us to grow. This year, pick one area that you will prioritize for a BIG impact. After you pick it, if you have butterflies in your stomach, that’s a good sign.
2) Joyous – Once you’ve set the goal, now consider how you can make the process of achieving the goal joyous, and not just the outcome. How can you bring some fun into the goals that you are setting so that it is not just about gritting your teeth and getting through it? Here are a couple of questions to consider:
What strengths can I bring to my BIG goal that will not only help me meet the goal, but also make the process engaging and joyful for me? Working on something challenging, while exercising our strengths, has been shown to lead to tremendous success. This is a state known as Flow, proposed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi. According to the Wikipedia, Flow “is the mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity. According to Csíkszentmihályi, flow is completely focused motivation. The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task.” Find ways to get to flow while working toward your goal.
Here’s the second question to ask yourself. How can I link this goal to something that is meaningful for me? According to McKinsey studies, both men and women leaders are intrinsically motivated to pursue ends when they link these ends with what is meaningful for them.
3) Authentic – One final check before you get going. Check out who the BIG goal is important to. I used to think I wanted to run the Boston Marathon. A friend of mine who I greatly admire is a marathoner and we even did some (painful for me) training sessions together. After these I realized that the process of training was no fun, and frankly the outcome was not so enticing for me either. I’d much rather dance than run. We spend far too much time pursuing goals others want for us, or goals that others who we admire have. A favorite client of mine says “It’s really hard to achieve goals you don’t really want“. So ask yourself the question, “Why is this BIG goal important to ME”? And if you need to, go back and adjust your goal to make it more authentic to what YOU want.
There is nothing more important than investing the time to reflect on your goals. Unless we’re clear on what we want, we will never get there. And there is nothing more motivating than having simple, clear, measurable, and authentic goals. I wish you great luck in setting your 2013 goals.
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