I have had an indifferent relationship with goals over the past decade. There were periods where I was regimental with the setting, writing and implementing of goals. I have also had periods where I left things unfold and responded accordingly. Over the past few years I have taken a slightly different approach. I still write out a small list of business, personal and health goals at the start of each year. The primary focus now though has shifted to one really big goal each year. As the author of Good To Great, Jim Collins, would refer to them – BHAG or Big Hairy Audacious Goals. For me, these vary from athletic pursuits, to business objectives, or professional accreditations.
Everything about pursuing really big goals goes against our in-built desire for comfort/stasis. By committing to something big we are seeking out the discomfort, fear and un-certainty that it brings. Whether it is starting a business, running the Marathon de Sables in the Sahara Desert, or climbing Kilimanjaro, it will bring all of your doubts and insecurities to the surface. As people we are becoming more risk averse, an off-shoot of the BS social media picture perfect life. People are treading carefully in case they fail and look stupid in front of their “followers”. Factoring all of these parts in you can see why people are happy to play it safe and only take on shots they know they can make.
So why then would we bother our arse to walk towards the flame? This is very much dependant upon what you want to achieve in your life. If you are happy with where you are at and fully content, then you can stop reading here. However from my years of experience working with individuals there is a large cohort of society who feel flat, un-fulfilled and like they are coasting through life. There is a genuine desire to do more and be more. They know they are only scraping the surface on their potential. For this cohort, setting really really big goals can be the lightning rod they require. When done correctly it forces you to examine all areas of your life and truly level up. In the case of Marathon de Sables it meant getting really vigilant on sleep, recovery, hydration, alcohol consumption, energy management and hyper focused on managing my time. I spent 25 months living off an Excel sheet which included all the key elements that needed to be monitored. This is not my natural way of being, but it worked really well for me. For 2022 I will have a new set of big rocks that will be monitored to ensure I reach my next big goal.
I can only speak from personal experience, but here are some elements that help with this process.
I generally start the process with a list of possible options. Once I delve into the detail further it helps to decipher if I have the time, or appetite for each one. Before I decide upon the one I will go with I ask a couple of simple questions;
Am I going to have to radically change how I operate on a weekly basis to achieve this?
What impact is achieving this going to have on my life?
Who do I need to become in order to achieve this?
If it doesn’t scare you a little or get you wondering how in the hell you are going to go about it, then you are probably not thinking big enough. Once you are settled on a goal that you can measure and achieve within the given time period there are a few important steps to follow.
Commit Fully – take an action that will ensure you have fully committed to this and it will make it very difficult to do a u-turn. In the case of the Marathon de Sables a deposit of £1,000 sterling meant that once paid the exit doors were shut.
Seek Help – who has done this before. How can I get in touch with them and soak as much information form them as possible. People who participate in rarefied air are always more than happy to share.
Map it Out – have a detailed plan for what exactly is involved. Then map it out fully with milestones along the way. Then take this and insert it into your calendar. As Peter Drucker famously said,
“Show me your calendar and I will show you what you really value”
The real reward for all of this is who you become as a result of the journey. The ability to over-come set-backs, plan and implement over a sustained period and most importantly how you view yourself as an individual once you have taken a big goal through to completion. That is where the real gold lies.
As we approach Christmas it is a typical time for reflection and planning for the new year. Is there a really big goal that you could commit to that would get the juices flowing in 2022.