I’ve set some very big, very ambitious goals for myself.
In fact, most of the goals I’ve set for myself easily fall into the category of BHAGs. You may have heard this term – BHAG. It was coined by author Jim Collins in his ground-breaking book, Built to Last, and stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goal.
A BHAG isn’t just any old goal – lose 20 pounds, clean out the garage, organize your photo library. No, a BHAG is huge and daunting. A BHAG is President Kennedy in May of 1961 declaring, “this Nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.” At the time, the most optimistic scientific estimates of success gave it a fifty-fifty chance. Many experts didn’t think it was possible at all.
Given the odds, such a bold commitment was nothing short of outrageous.
Which is an appropriate word to describe the BHAG I’ve set for myself: Help 10 million people completely eliminate fear and anxiety from their lives.
Like I said, outrageous.
At this time, the most optimistic scientific estimates of success gave it zero chance. Every expert doesn’t think it possible at all. Which, of course, only adds fuel to my fire.
Setting the goal is the easy part. Achieving it is another thing altogether because BHAGs are REALLY HARD. Any BHAG worth the label is going to require a great deal of concentrated time and effort and it’s so easy to find a million reasons and ways to avoid or postpone the real work.
However, instead of calling them “reasons,” let’s call them what they are – excuses.
I have committed to posting a video-a-day on the i-fearless YouTube channel. Each one is five to seven minutes long and takes that time, plus about twice that to edit. I’m learning so many creative ways to convince myself that I simply don’t have those 25 minutes. It’s too noisy. The lighting isn’t right. My head isn’t into it right now. I’ve already got three that are ready to go, so I don’t need to think about that today…
I have committed to posting a weekly blog (just like this one) every Friday and sending it out to my growing list of email subscribers. This takes a little longer – maybe three or four hours. There are countless obstacles that get in the way of that weekly task. It can’t possibly be done in several shorter time periods – the writing won’t be good enough. I got caught up in some family to-do items and it’s not my fault that I couldn’t find time. My readers won’t even notice if I miss a week…
I have committed to building a thriving and highly engaged Facebook Group – Fearless Living and Growth Society, which requires daily postings, comments and interactions. I should also be doing Facebook Live events regularly. But the lighting isn’t right, it’s too noisy, there aren’t enough people going to participate, I’m too busy writing the blog…
I’m committed to building a strong following on social media so I can provide the inspiration, tools and resources people need to overcome their own anxieties. But that requires investing in ads with money that’s hard to come by…
I’ve committed to recruiting mental health professionals, life coaches and other wellness experts to help me teach and spread the techniques that allowed me to remove fear and anxiety from my own life. But they’re all busy, COVID-19 has made it hard to network, getting their attention takes time, resources and creativity…
In their moments, every one of these roadblocks is a legitimate obstacle to accomplishing the BHAG that I’ve set for myself. So any failure to achieve it certainly won’t be my fault. I’ll be able to point to hundreds of genuine reasons why it didn’t happen. I’m even making a list of people to blame when I have to admit defeat.
But the truth is that there are no legitimate obstacles, there are only excuses. If I choose to see them as dead-end roadblocks, I’m finished. If, instead, I choose to see them as challenges, against which I measure the kind of stuff I’m made of, they become a game to be played and won. What I lack in resources I can make up for in resourcefulness.
When I look myself in the mirror and ask why I’m allowing this BHAG to get the better of me, I’m forced to admit that sometimes I’m a little intimidated by it and sometimes I’m just feeling lazy. Neither of these conditions serve me. Neither of these conditions take me closer to achieving this audacious and, in my view, entirely worthwhile goal.
Imagine a world that is completely free of anxiety. Imagine waking up every day knowing that you are fully capable of successfully taking on any challenge that arises. Imagine sleeping like a baby every night.
That’s why this goal is worth the effort.
On September 12, 1962, President John F. Kennedy spoke to a crowd in the stadium at Rice University in Houston. Regarding the BHAG he’d set for the nation he said, “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win.”
What excuses are you using to avoid progress on your BHAG?