The value of personal BHAGs

As we wind down 2014, one of my favorite things is to reflect back on what took place the past eleven months and look forward on what I’m excited for in the coming year.

For the past few Decembers, I’ve created personal BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) inspired by organizations that follow Jim Collins’ philosophy.  From reading twenty books to getting to wheel pose in yoga to visiting a new country, the goals are meant to be a mix of ones I am certain I capn accomplish and others that are daunting and far-fetched.

As I begin to brainstorm new BHAGs, I always review my current BHAGs and see which ones I’ve accomplished and which ones I’ll miss.

This year, I had fifteen BHAGs and only managed to accomplish 2.  That’s a 13% success rate.  I shared this with a friend who then asked me what the point  was of making BHAGs if I was only going to miss most of them.  Her question stung although very valid.  I did ask myself… “well, what is the point?”

I took a look at my 2014 personal BHAGs:

  • Save an additional $X amount
  • Read 20 books
  • Go to a new country
  • Run a total of 300 miles
  • Be able to do a wheel in yoga class (check – hello upside down world!)
  • Finish one module in Rosetta Stone
  • Be able to swim five laps
  • Be in the 15lbs weight lifting in boot camp
  • Go to a new state or province (check – Greetings Atlanta!)
  • Take my mom on a holiday
  • Complete 10 hours of coding
  • Take a public speaking course
  • Be able to do forty pushups in a row
  • Trapeze lessons
  • Private (going to keep this last one to myself)

I didn’t end up doing most of them.  I didn’t even end up completing the one I thought would be the easiest – reading twenty books.  As of December 3rd, I’ve only read twelve.  But of the books I did read, one was Hillary Clinton’s Hard Choices and several were Haruki Murakami.  I chose books that challenged me as a reader and a thinker.

Same with the run 300 miles BHAG.  In 2013, I had complete a running race as a BHAG and at the time I wrote that goal down, I hadn’t run more than ten minutes since tenth grade gym class.  In 2013, I ran my first 5k and then 10k and fell in love with the race.  In 2014, I set my eye on a half-marathon as part of my getting to 300 miles.  I ended up running three half-marathons from February to October but sadly those plus training did not equal 300 miles.

When I reflect back, the value of my personal BHAGs isn’t completing them and giving myself a gold star.  The BHAGs provided me with an opportunity to explore new hobbies, new interests, new passions.  I learned what I like (running and yoga) and what I hate (following cookbook recipes1).  It was in trying to accomplish my personal BHAGs that gave me most meaning.  The journey is the reward.

So here I am at the last month of the year and starting to think about 2015’s BHAGs.  Will I have many?  Chances are yes.  Will I complete them all?  Not a chance.  I’ll be surprised if I finish more than two but I’m excited to see what it will take to complete them.

Share with me some of your BHAGs or New Year’s resolutions.  I would love to take a peek and see what I can borrow.

1 I had this silly idea one year of cooking once a month from a recipe book. It failed miserably.  I tend to be more of an innovator and creator in the kitchen than a recipe follower for better or worse.

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