On July 8th, I made the decision to climb Mt. Kenya, the second largest mountain in Africa, at 17,053 feet high. Five years ago, I had made a similar commitment to do Kilimanjaro, and that decision changed my life forever.
As a result, I spent seven months in extreme training. And after getting to the top of Kilimanjaro at 60, I realized that a great many more things were possible. That launched my adventure travel career.
Here’s the thing: no matter who we are or where we are in life or how old we are, setting a BHAG (Big Hairy Ass Goal) is a huge motivator.
It doesn’t have to be to go climb a mountain either. For you it may be to get to better health. Drop ten pounds. Take a solo trip to another state or country. It makes no difference what it is that stirs your soul.
The point is that when we place a hugely attractive outcome someplace in the near distant future and commit to it, all manner of forces gather to help us achieve that goal.
Here are some tips on setting, and achieving, a BHAG:
If you are retired, you don’t have to sit in boredom, without significant goals. Think about what you’d love to accomplish at this age. What things excite you? What did you always want to do but didn’t have time for?
That begins with a dream. If not now, when? If not you, then who? This is permission to recognize what you’ve always wanted to do.
Once you figure out what you want to do, write down that BHAG and imagine what accomplishing it might feel like. The visualization process is a big part of how accomplished people get things done. If we can imagine it, it’s far more achievable.
The process of writing down a goal lights up parts of our brain that don’t get engaged by just thinking about it. This is the beginning of commitment. Studies show that we are 42% more likely to achieve our goals and dreams when we write them down.
Next, break your goal down into daily actions. What can you do today that will move you towards that BHAG? For example, the same day I committed to climbing Mt. Kenya, I went out and ran 3600 steps. That’s twice what I normally do.
The power of committing to that BHAG gave me double the energy and drive to get serious about getting in tip-top shape. I created a table to document my preparation. I’m excited and energized and enthusiastic.
Documenting our progress reminds us that achievement is step by step, day by day, minute by minute. It also shows us how far we’ve come, which can be very helpful on those inevitable days we feel tired, defeated and overwhelmed.
See? I’ve made it this far. Today I can take a break, or today I’ll just do something small. But I’ve done something. And that alone can keep us going for the long haul.
Give yourself credit for the progress you make. Take the time to celebrate each successful step. Part of how you do this is to create a support team. If you can, find folks who are committed to having you succeed.
They will remind you of what you’ve done, the value of sticking to it and will celebrate with you every step of the way. In fact, if you collaborate with others on their BHAGs, this becomes a success circle. When we go public with a BHAG, we gather people of like mind.
Do not let naysayers and negative folks touch your enthusiasm. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people will provide much-needed moral support, whether it’s a health journey, weight journey or real journey to Italy or Africa or parts beyond.
Savor every moment of the journey. When I trained for Kilimanjaro, I worked hard four hours a day to get in shape. I also over-trained and occasionally got injured as a result. That was excellent feedback about what not to do this time.
While I am still going to train hard, the mistakes I made before will inform me how to go about it more effectively. The journey is the whole point. We experience ourselves moving forward, focusing and enjoying the process.
When we get to your goal, CELEBRATE! Be in that moment long enough to congratulate yourself and thank those who helped you along the way.
Setting a BHAG is an act of love for ourselves and a statement of our right to live a vivid, happy life. Each time we set one and start on that path, we get filled with youthful energy.
As we mark each step on the journey, we’re reminded that we’re never, ever too old to have big goals. Each time we achieve one, we’re motivated to set another. That’s how it works.
What big goals have you set recently? Achieved? What did you learn about yourself along the way? Please share in the comments below!