Have you ever had a goal so big you didn’t even know where to start? You can see the whole dang forest but not one single tree? The gracious ones among us would call you a visionary. To you, however—you just feel stuck.
That’s what we’re talking about today: taking those big picture, crazy goals and breaking them down into achievable steps.
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What are your Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals?
If you’ve read Built to Last by Porras and Collins (or have hung around someone else who did), chances are you’ve heard the term “BHAGs.” These are those crazy huge goals that seem impossible but are stubborn dreams of yours.
Sometimes it can be scary to share your BHAGs with others. It means getting vulnerable. It means setting a standard that you might not reach. Even with supportive friends and family, putting your impossible goals out there for all to see is intimidating.
But think about that worn-out quote about ambition:
“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”
Success is no accident. Missing your target requires having one. And if you aim and miss, that’s not failure; it’s a learning experience.
Now it’s time for me to get vulnerable. One of my BHAGs is to grow the Scattered Fashionista tribe to 30,000 strong by mid-2018. It’s a big, beautiful, scary goal, and one I’ll never achieve unless I…
Set reasonable mile markers along the journey
It’d be crazy and unreasonable of me to look at that BHAG and focus on it and think about it…and do nothing else about it. That’s not a goal; it’s a dream. A fantasy.
Your big goals must be broken down into smaller segments. Say you want to lose weight, or pay off debt. Do you set a deadline and work blindly? Absolutely not. You break it down. If your goal is losing thirty pounds, maybe a reasonable mile marker could be seven pound increments. Or, for the debt example, start by paying off one small debt a la Dave Ramsey.
What’s a reasonable mile marker? That’s up to you. It needs to be big enough that you see yourself making progress, yet small enough that you don’t become overwhelmed.
In my case, that might look like increasing my subscribers by 500 a month for the next three months, and then creating a new mile marker as momentum builds.
List weekly action steps
If you’ve got your Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal and your mile markers are in place, your next job is breaking that down into weekly action steps. How will you get closer to that mile marker this week?
For our debt example, you might choose to cut out a normal weekly expenditure, sell some unneeded items on eBay, create new outfit combinations with the clothes you already have, and research healthy, low-budget meal plans.
If you’re on the weight loss track, you might decide how many times you’ll work out, what your diet or caloric intake for the week will be, plan out your meals, weigh in, and take your measurements.
Listed one on top of the other, these weekly action steps can still be a bit overwhelming. That’s why we must break it down one last time into…
The final step: daily tasks
And this is where the rubber meets the road. Here you take your calendar/ list/ app/ whatever you use and plug in when you’ll accomplish each item on your list.
For example, maybe your weight loss-focused week will look like this:
Breaking it down into just a few daily tasks makes the steps that much more attainable and less overwhelming. Depending upon the type of goal, you might not have to be completing tasks every single day. However, experience has taught me that it’s better for me physically and mentally to break those weekly action steps down at least a bit.
Whether your weakness is the forest or the trees, we all lose sight of the best way to accomplish our goals from time to time. Visuals always help me, which is why I’ve created the Planning Pyramid. This hand-drawn graphic is an easy way to keep these four parts of the process stored permanently in your mind.
You can access the Planning Pyramid under the Goodies tab, accessible with your password. If you’re not yet a tribe member (or if you’ve forgotten the password), sign up in the green box at the end of this post. Access to this and many other helpful tools will be yours for free.