top of page
  • Writer's pictureRebecca Mott

How BHAGs (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals) Help You Feel Alive and Conquer Your Fears

What is a BHAG (pronounced BEE-hag) anyway? Let's explore it together and discover how they can help you conquer your fears.

According to Wikipedia,

"The term 'Big Hairy Audacious Goal' was proposed by James Collins and Jerry Porras in their 1994 book entitled Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies."

It emerged in the business arena and the term was designed to help businesses understand the importance of setting clear and compelling goals. These goals are not mundane, everyday goals. BHAGs inspire and galvanize teams to produce at a high-level.

I fell in love with the term because it embodied the concept of aggressive goals in an emotive way. BHAGs are:

Big. Focus on achieving something visionary and of great significance.

Hairy. Evoke strong feelings.

Audacious. Bold and risky.

A lot of people never set goals because they fear failure (or the corollary they fear success). Instead, the set what I call "low-bar" goals. These goals are so achievable that they are boring. And there is nothing inspirational or exciting about a boring goal.

So we set goals that don't require us to stretch ourselves. Even worse than that, they don't spark any emotion that will inspire or motivate us to radical action.

One BHAG that changed my whole life was running a half-marathon and training for a full marathon (I injured my foot 7 days before the marathon, so it's still on my bucket list).

Deciding to run a marathon may sound "low-bar" if it wasn't for the fact that I was: over 40, a couch potato, asthmatic, and had never played sports a day in my life. I also believed in my head "I could never be a runner." I had all of the reasons why I shouldn't, couldn't, or wouldn't. As it applied to me, this was a clear BHAG.

So I set "run a marathon" as a goal. It was a perfect BHAG for me. It was bold. It was scary. I had health challenges so it was risky. But thinking about the possibility of doing it evoked strong positive emotions I couldn't explain.


Adopting the habit of setting a BHAG for all of your personal goals is the key to unleashing the excitement you need to motivate yourself. Goals that fail to evoke strong emotion take sheer force of will and sometimes extreme discipline to achieve. Because typical goals do not have this emotive component, it takes more energy and effort on your part to execute.

This will only work if what you want to achieve is more exciting to you than your fear. Fear will stop you. Any negative emotions around your BHAG will feed your fears. How do you get past that?

There is only one way: look fear in the face and say, "You will not win!" You have to make a conscious decision to not give in to your fears. This will require you to learn how to move through your fear with confidence.

We have all heard it before: fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. There are others, but I think this one describes fear perfectly. It is false. It appears like real evidence. The good news is that the first part is true. Fear has no validity unless you give it life. And the second part lets us know that the "evidence" we see is not real. It is in our imagination.

So, in pursuit of your BHAG, you need to set your intention strong. You need to let the excitement of your BHAG be your guide. Instead of imagining certain disaster, think about your over-the-top success. Envision it. And let that vision pull you forward.

Did I run the marathon? No. But in the process, I found that pushing myself outside of my comfort zone and beyond what even I thought was possible for me, I found strength and confidence.

And my boost in confidence has pushed to me try all kinds of things in the last few years. I did not hit every BHAG that I set. But what I became in the process of pursuing my BHAGs has given me the best gift.

The gift of "Yes I can. And yes I will."

31 views0 comments
bottom of page