Happy 2017! Please welcome my first guest writer, Miss Sherry Paden.
Sherry and I worked together at Ballston Sport and Health for several years. I always admired Sherry’s intelligence and tenaciousness. When Sherry was inspired by people around her, she took action to achieve for herself the things she wanted, usually with spectacular results.
In January 2016, I challenged Sherry to set a BHAG, a big hairy audacious goal. A goal that would both terrify her and excite her. Sherry’s post is an excellent example of how setting a BHAG can change your life, regardless of whether you achieve it or not.
Here is her story:
Happy New Year!
I will ask you the same thing a dear friend of mine, Laura Dow, asked me around this time last year.
Ready for it?
What is your BHAG? That’s right, BHAG.
If you are anything like me, you are probably sitting there thinking “A B- what??”
Before my conversation with Laura, every new year brought with it a plethora of new goals. I wanted to work out, I wanted to eat better, or there was always something I wanted to achieve or work on that had somehow fallen to the bottom of my priorities the year prior.
This cycle of creating goals and “falling off the wagon” a couple months later was finally broken for me last year, when Laura shared with me what I am now going to share with you
What is this so called BHAG?? It means Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal—a goal that’s just a little bit too far out of reach. There are a couple important things to note before you go running off trying to figure out what yours is, so hold your horses!!
A BHAG is a challenge. You WANT goals that just out of reach. That sounds crazy though, right? Why in the world would you want to set a goal that you can’t reach?
Well, let me tell you, a goal that is just beyond your fingertips will inspire you to work harder and more creatively. Secondly, even if you don’t reach it, your BHAG will do amazing things! BHAGs are meant to push you and get you to try just a little bit harder!
So now, if you are thinking to yourself, “Oh, I’ve got this in the bag!” and you are able to sit down immediately after reading this and write out your BHAG for 2017, I would encourage you to give it some more time and effort.
Honestly, I didn’t have a good grasp on the concept of a BHAG until mine found me. Yep. My BHAG found me. I will share my experience with you.
I am a 26 year graduate student, destined for the field of Psychology. I met Laura a couple years back as I was about to start my Master’s program (2014)— we were personal trainers at the same gym.
Fast forward to the new year of 2016, I remember Laura approaching me while I was on the stair stepper. She asks me this question about a BHAG, and I was quick to respond.
I told her my BHAG would be to graduate in the spring and do another body building competition….perhaps, I would be ambitious and try a half marathon or something, since I had not yet tried to run one.
I remember her saying something along the lines of these things being goals.. that I knew I would achieve them, and that a BHAG was something bigger.
I thought to myself….what could be bigger than graduating with a masters degree? Don’t body building competitions and half marathons take a lot of dedication???
Come on Laura, cut me some slack! (haha)
I told her I would apply to a doctorate program.
There! Take that, Laura!
Nope….still NOT good enough!
What the heck is this BHAG business??
I racked my brain for several weeks, and if I’m being honest again, I stopped trying to figure it out for a while.
I spent my spring applying to and interviewing for doctorate programs in Northern Virginia and in the New England area. Let me preface this by telling you I am NOT a northern girl!
I had visited the state of Massachusetts maybe one or two times and never thought it was anything to write home about. I heard back from the program in Northern Virginia first.
Without waiting to hear back from the program in Boston, I had pretty much decided on that program. Easy decision, right? I get to pursue my lifelong dream AND stay close to friends and family!
The night I sat down to fill out the acceptance forms, I got an email that changed my life. I had also gotten accepted to the program in Boston.
My BHAG wasn’t just about starting a Clinical Psychology program, it was about self-discovery. It was about pushing my own limits and stepping outside of my comfort zone.
I’m not getting younger, so what was I waiting for? I put my notice in at the gym, and a couple months later I packed what I could fit into a small trailer and had my things shipped to an apartment in Boston that I found on Craigslist.
I took a gamble and threw a few applications out so I could afford rent over the summer and now work at one of the top psychiatric hospitals in the country!
Setting a BHAG has taught me to let go of the reigns a bit. I tend to be a bit of a control freak and have tried to plan out every minute of every day. While it is still good to set goals for yourself along the way, accomplishing my BHAG has showed me that if I put in the hard work and effort, good things will result from it.
These good things might not have been EXACTLY what I could have anticipated, and that’s okay! I’ve learned to let loose a bit, be more spontaneous, and welcome new possibilities that I would have shut down before because they weren’t in my original plans.
I still haven’t completely found out who I am yet, but I just finished my first semester at my program, and I reconnected with a friend who I now anticipate spending the rest of my life with, so things aren’t looking too bad for me!
As you think about your own BHAG, remember that success isn’t about reaching a goal. Whether you reach your BHAG right away, or if it takes you a little longer than you expected, the pursuit of your goal—the steps you take toward it—are success!
original artwork (BHAG) by Jamie McMahon