BHAG examples personal goals

BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) Conquer Success Outside Your Comfort Zone

1. What are BHAGs?

The concept of Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG) was introduced by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in their influential business book, “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies.” Published in 1994, this book explores the characteristics and practices of enduring companies that have stood the test of time. 

Unlike “regular” goals, which are often defined as SMART goals and should be designed to be achievable, but not particularly out of reach, BHAGs, are those audacious and bold goals that inspire action, drive innovation, and push boundaries. At first glance, they might seem intimidating, but they also keep you pushing the boundaries of your own comfort zone, help you stretch your limits, and challenge the norm.

Real-life Examples and Company Stories of BHAGs:

To truly grasp the impact of BHAGs, let’s dive into some real-world success stories. There are various examples of BHAG and how it propelled some companies visions. Here are just a few:

  • Amazon’s BHAG of becoming “Earth’s most customer-centric company” drove their innovation in customer service, leading to remarkable growth and customer loyalty.
  • Tesla’s BHAG of accelerating the world’s transition to sustainable energy fueled its groundbreaking advancements in electric vehicles and renewable energy solutions.
  • Microsoft’s BHAG of “A computer on every desk and in every home” in the 1970s revolutionized personal computing.
  • SpaceX’s “Enable human life on Mars”. This ambitious goal isn’t something that can be achieved overnight, but it acts as a guiding star, igniting passion, commitment, and creativity within the team.

Key Definition of BHAGs:

While the book provides a blueprint for corporate excellence, its principles can be seamlessly woven into the fabric of individual lives. BHAGs aren’t about playing it safe; they’re about embracing discomfort, embracing uncertainty, and striving for greatness.

Definition of BHAG – Bullet Points:

  • BHAGs are introduced by Collins and Porras in their book “Built to Last.”
  • They describe audacious and bold goals, which inspire innovation and action.
  • They aim to push boundaries and think outside the box for excellence.

2. The Transformative Power of BHAG

The allure of BHAGs lies in their power to ignite profound transformations. By setting audacious goals, you’re challenging the limits of your capabilities and embracing discomfort as a catalyst for growth. These goals stimulate innovation, creativity, and a proactive approach to problem-solving. As you strive toward a BHAG, you develop resilience and adaptability, acquiring skills that extend beyond the goal itself. Research shows that people who pursue BHAGs tend to be more engaged, passionate, and motivated, resulting in higher levels of achievement.


Consider the story of Amelia, an aspiring marathon runner. Her regular goal was to complete a marathon within a year. But Amelia wanted more than just crossing the finish line – she wanted to inspire others and raise funds for a cause she deeply cared about. Her BHAG was born: to complete an ultramarathon, twice the length of a regular marathon, within the same timeframe. As she trained rigorously, faced setbacks, and pushed her limits, Amelia not only achieved her BHAG but also developed unwavering determination, mental fortitude, and leadership skills that extended beyond the race. Her audacious goal became a stepping stone to greatness.

Power of BHAG – Bullet Points:

  • BHAGs drive transformative change by pushing boundaries and embracing discomfort.
  • Pursuing BHAGs cultivates innovation, creativity, and proactive problem-solving.
  • Research indicates that BHAG-driven individuals are more engaged, passionate, and motivated.
  • BHAGs foster holistic growth, developing skills beyond the goal itself.

3. Setting the Right BHAG: Balancing Ambition and Realism

While audacity is a cornerstone of BHAGs, finding the right balance between ambition and realism is crucial. Your BHAG should be challenging enough to inspire greatness, yet attainable with focused effort. Setting an unrealistic goal can lead to demotivation and frustration. The key lies in conducting a thorough assessment of your resources, skills, and market conditions. Leverage the SMART criteria to refine your BHAG and ensure it remains a driving force rather than a daunting impossibility.


Let’s say you’re an artist aiming to exhibit your work in renowned galleries. Your vision is to become a globally recognized artist, but transforming this vision into a BHAG requires specificity. Instead of setting a BHAG to have your work displayed in all major galleries within a year, consider aiming to secure exhibitions in three well-regarded galleries that align with your style and values. This approach combines ambition with a realistic assessment of your current reach and networking capabilities.

Balance your BHAG – Bullet Points:

  • The right BHAG balances audacity and realism.
  • Unrealistic goals can lead to demotivation and frustration.
  • SMART criteria help refine BHAGs and maintain their motivational impact.
  • Assess resources, skills, and market conditions when setting a BHAG.

4. Strategies for Achieving BHAG: From Vision to Reality

Pursuing a BHAG requires a strategic approach that bridges the gap between aspiration and achievement. Start by breaking down your BHAG into actionable steps and milestones. This not only provides a roadmap but also helps prevent overwhelm. Embrace innovation and unconventional thinking as you navigate challenges. Collaboration and networking can also play a pivotal role, enabling you to tap into diverse perspectives and resources. Regularly revisit and adapt your plan based on insights and changing circumstances. Remember, the journey is as crucial as the destination.


Let’s say your BHAG is to write a bestselling novel that transforms readers’ perspectives. Begin by outlining the plot, characters, and themes. Break down the writing process into daily word counts, creating a roadmap for completion. As you encounter writer’s block, explore innovative writing techniques or experiment with different settings. Connect with fellow writers, attend workshops, and seek feedback to enhance your craft. Adapt your plan based on reader responses and emerging literary trends. Read, watch, and listen to the experiences of other once unknown authors who have once been where you are now and have been rejected but haven’t given up. Embracing the journey, with its twists and turns, amplifies the impact of your audacious goal.

How to develop your personal BHAG – Bullet Points:

  • Break down BHAGs into actionable steps and milestones.
  • Embrace innovative thinking and unconventional approaches.
  • Collaboration and networking provide diverse perspectives and resources.
  • Adapt the plan based on insights and changing circumstances.


Pursuing a BHAG is no easy feat. Challenges will arise, and setbacks may occur. The skills, mindset, and resilience developed along the way become invaluable assets for future endeavors. By setting and conquering BHAGs, you shatter limitations, redefine your potential, and inspire others to embark on their own audacious journeys. However, the resilience and growth you experience along the way can be as valuable as the goal itself.

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