Too B or Not Too B: When Goals Seem Insurmountable
My friend Louise recently cycled from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Another friend rode a bike (for the second time!) with a small team across America in just over seven days. Last year around this time, my friend Jeanette climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and another, Chip, completed all 2,185 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Everywhere people are pushing their brains and bodies to new peaks as they enter adulthood, middle age or their senior years.
Welcome to the season of BHAGs.
Regardless of age or station in life, people are fulfilling Big Hairy Audacious Goals. They’re getting married, starting careers, starting families, buying first (or second) homes, heading to college, writing books, making movies, finishing makeovers and traveling the world. Others are saying goodbye to lousy jobs and toxic relationships. In general, this is a great time of year to check off a big item on life’s long to-do list.
Within Twirling Tiger Media, we periodically take stock of our company’s big goals to make certain we continue to grow. Sure, it’s stressful when forecasts and expectations aren’t aligned; that’s the “hairy” part. But it’s also confirmation that our goals are both big and audacious.
Unlike other goals, BHAGs initially seem almost too huge to actually pursue. But growth — personal, professional and corporate — doesn’t come by doing the same thing, just better. It comes from bold moves rooted in determination, dedication and excellent timing.
We all have BHAGs, whether we publicly declare them or not. As children, we fantasize about careers and how to reach them. As adults, we envision our future selves in fulfilling, financially rewarding roles that support a certain lifestyle. But not everyone becomes a veterinarian or President, and most of us don’t stay thin, live in oceanfront custom homes or send our kids to Ivy League schools.
Life has a way of leveling our aspirations. But for those that never abandon, yet never achieve, their dreams, regardless of scale, here may be a few reasons why.
You are either too fixated or too flexible. It’s fine to keep your eye on the ultimate goal, but the steps to get there may change. The tools and skills you have today may need to adjust to meet tomorrow’s demands, so it’s important to recognize when to set a new course rather than remain rooted in your ways. That said, don’t abandon a goal just because it becomes harder or you initially fail. Give a project more time before deciding it just isn’t going to work anymore, or provide you the expected outcome.
You fail to invest in yourself. We all talk about the support we need to accomplish our dreams, but too often we forget to support ourselves. People who truly want to succeed know the value of self-care — in modest apportionments. Don’t be too selfish, but do make time for yourself and make sure everyone around you honors your dedication. After all, you cannot climb mountains or the corporate ladder if you stay stressed. Take good care of your physical and mental well-being and you might find you actually are better at taking care of others too.
Your vision isn’t quite what it could be. We’ve just been bombarded by stories of amateur athletes overcoming adversities to make it to the Rio Summer Olympics. They are not you. But just because you won’t be a swim star or world-class gymnast doesn’t mean you can’t set personal records in the pool or still do splits well into your 70s. Find the best balance between ambition and actuality. And give yourself a periodic reality check.
You underestimate the amount of sweat equity involved. Anyone who’s failed at a diet or exercise plan knows the power of mind over matter. Every goal worth pursuing will involve sacrifice. Every. Single. One. That’s because there are finite resources, such as time, money and energy, to pursue BHAGs. And behavioral changes are required. In order to retire well, you must save more. In order to lose weight, you must consume less. You can’t outsource will power.
Always remember: If a goal is important, it remains achievable. No, you probably won’t enjoy the same commercial success as Beyoncé or financial wealth of Warren Buffet. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be far more successful in your life and your career. So, keep dreamin’ those big dreams, regardless of where you’re starting from today.
This originally appeared in our August e-newsletter and is being reposted now because the next edition continues the theme of grand goals. Not a subscriber yet? Please do sign up for our monthly e-newsletter — sent once monthly (we swear!).