Make a new life goal and set your sights high

Jan Kwiatkowski, LMFT, is a psychotherapist and mental health consultant for Aurora Family Service in Milwaukee, WI.

This past weekend, approximately 7 million people watched live as Felix Baumgartner jumped from 24 miles above the solid ground of Earth with the intention of landing safely on the Earth. He jumped and most importantly, he landed safely.

The results of the preparation, the equipment used, as well as the actual jump and landing will be analyzed and studied for scientific purposes. While I didn’t watch the jump live, I’ve seen it several times on YouTube. I’m wondering what drives a person to actually spend five years preparing for and then executing a feat like this.

Some would call it a BHAG…Big, Hairy, Audacious, Goal. The BHAG is an idea created by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, who co-authored the book, “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies.” They challenged CEO’s and business leaders to look at their organizations and develop big, visionary goals that would completely shift their business over the course of the next 5 years. A good goal had to meet four criteria.

It had to be aligned (tied closely to what is most important to the organization). It had to be audacious, the kind of thing someone would tell you was impossible. To achieve it would necessitate a different kind of thinking. Next, the goal had to be articulate. In other words, very specific and clear…not some kind of vague idea. Finally, the goal has to be arduous. It has to be achievable, while at the same time stretching participants far beyond what they ever thought they could do.

By this definition Felix Baumgartner and his team certainly had and achieved a BHAG. Or maybe, more correctly, their BHAG. Jumping out of a capsule, in a space suit with some sophisticated parachutes and hurtling towards the earth at over 800 mph, or helping a person do that is not my idea of a BHAG. It’s fun to be a bystander and watch others achieve BHAGS. There is a vicarious kind of excitement with the huge and life defining risk of a death defying feat. But if it stops there, then all it is for most of us is a short lived vicarious rush.

Do you have a BHAG you are already working on? Have you had one and accomplished it and now have set another? Are you actively figuring out a direction for your life, your family, your relationships? Are you kind of just muddling through each day? As I mentioned earlier, Baumgartner’s BHAG would definitely not be mine. I’ve had and accomplished some of my own, and am reorienting towards the next one. The point is, that a BHAG has to have meaning for the person who sets the goal.

It can be something like going back to school, saving a certain amount of money,
getting rid of credit card debt or starting a business. It could be something like running a marathon or losing a specific amount of weight. Moving to a safer neighborhood, getting your child to a better school or working so a child can attend college are BHAG’s. Getting out of a violent relationship, healing a long standing family feud, or maybe freeing yourself from past pain and guilt or making peace with your past are all examples of more private, but none-the-less, just as important BHAG’s.

In order to achieve his goal, Mr. Baumgartner needed a team of people with and behind him. Any BHAG needs support, coaching and some cheerleading. Do you have BHAG that could use some fleshing out, support and direction? Who is on your team? If you need or want some assistance with a BHAG in your life, give us a call at Aurora Family Service.

I’m curious about BHAG’s in your life….achieved, tried and learned from, how your life has been changed in the process, and maybe what advice or words of wisdom you might have for other readers. Consider sharing your insights with our readers this week.

Aurora Family Service helps families overcome challenges, changes and crisis to live well again. We achieve stability and strength for families through counseling, parenting, elder care, financial, career, health and community services.  For more information, visit our website, follow us on Facebook, or call 1-414-342-4560.

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