Create Your Personal BHAG [Examples]

By Alan Gehringer

dateTue, Feb 22, 2022 @ 09:00 AM

It is very common to develop a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) for your business. What is not so Personal BHAG Examples - Big Hairy Audacious Goal common is to develop a BHAG for your personal life. Before we get into that, let’s define what a BHAG is (pronounced bee hag) for those not familiar with the concept. A Big Hairy Audacious Goal is term coined by the professor, management consultant and author Jim Collins and Jerry Porras. Jim has written several books with the most popular being Good to Great. A BHAG is a 10+ year visionary goal that describes your envisioned future, and is one of the successful habits of visionary companies. A BHAG should stretch you and guide you while unifying on a focal point of effort to help you determine what to say yes and no to as you forge ahead to accomplish your goals.

As companies, we establish these long term goals to achieve ten to twenty-five years out, and they guide the many decisions of go, no go along the way. A good BHAG (with BHAG examples) is specific, numeric and has a time-based component. It should also connect to the heart and inspire us to work hard to reach it.

That brings me to the concept of developing a personal BHAG. We all know that if we do not establish goals and priorities for our personal lives, life just has a way of happening and bringing us along with it. You know the old saying, “Life Happens!” I know many people that set annual priorities for themselves and their families. Some even look a few years out, but not many take a long-term approach with a vision of a clear finish line. You may have heard the phrase “to live a life by design not chance,” or something similar to this. This is what a personal BHAG can help you do and stimulate progress towards the clearly defined goal.

So here are some tips to help you develop your own personal BHAG, which is similar to a personal mission statement.

Create a Personal BHAG:

  • A good BHAG is set with understanding, not bravado, is bold, but not unrealistic.

  • It fits squarely in the three circles of (a) what you are deeply passionate about (including your own core values and purpose), (b) what drives your economic logic, and (c) what differentiates you (what you personally can be the best in the world at).

  • It should have a long period to achieve—10 to 30 years.

  • It is clear, compelling, and easy to grasp.

  • It helps define your personal hedgehog (hedgehog concept) or playing towards your strength.

  • It directly reflects your core values and core purpose.

Personal BHAG examples:

  • To live in a particular location

  • To establish financial goals for retirement

  • Achieve personal education goals like earning a PhD

  • Getting your children through college and onto their chosen careers

  • Seeing your grandchildren born

  • Being self-employed or starting a small business

  • Achieving certain fitness goals

  • Being debt free

  • Starting a charity that matches your core values

The list goes on and the next step is to determine what is important to you and what you want to accomplish long term.

One tool we use for annual planning to establish goals is the Destination Postcard exercise where an individual looks back as though they just completed the year and writes a post card to themselves describing what made it a great year and what their three top accomplishments where. You can use this for a longer-term approach as well.

Another exercise I have seen used is to write your obituary to include all of your accomplishments and the things you are proud of in your life. This is a powerful exercise to make sure you have no future regrets and live a life worth living and full of contribution. Doing so can help clarify what your BHAG should be.

Remember, seeing what we want to accomplish and believing it is possible is the first step to realizing your goals. One cannot accomplish what one cannot first envision.

Here are 4 components of a great personal BHAG:

  1. Choose an arrival or completion date.

  2. Develop a quantitative goal to achieve.

  3. Make it qualitative in a way that connects to the heart and inspires you to achieve it while connecting to your core values and purpose.

  4. Share with others around you to hold yourself accountable.

Life is about balance and that can be difficult for “A” players that are very career-driven. Developing your personal BHAG just might help you restore some of that needed balance in your life and create some perspective on other things that are important as you design and live the fullest life you are capable of.

Good luck as you develop your successful vision, Alan

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Looking for some more information on BHAG to help get you started? Check out our additional resources:

Why Having a Personal BHAG Matters

BHAG Best Practices

Classic BHAG Examples

What Drives Your Financial Engine? Profit/X Examples

Does Your Company's BHAG Connect to Your Hedgehog?

Why Having a BHAG Matters

How to Reach Your BHAG (Infographic)

Editor's note: This blog was originally published on Mar 11, 2015, and has been updated.

Alan Gehringer


Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images