How do you measure success?
Did you make partner at your law firm?
Did you make more money last year than this year?
Do you drive a nice car?
Do you live in a big house?
Are you happy?
Would the 12-year-old version of you be impressed by who you have become?
Are you a good person that serves others and society?
Do you have a happy family that loves you?
Do you have time to do the things that matter most to you in life?
We start off our careers and many parts of our lives with a clear perspective of what we want. We can almost taste it, our visions and dreams are so apparent. Then life happens. Marriage, kids, work, more work and then we wake up one day and ask ourselves—is this really what I signed up for? Am I going through the motions or I am getting closer and closer to what I really want most.
I’m not just talking about happiness either, I’m talking about measuring whatever it is that we seek. There is saying in business that in the short team, we tend to set goals that are overly ambitious but in the long term we aren’t ambitious enough. Why the disconnect? In my opinion, it is due to our small attention span. We have attention for survival, we get up, do our work, exercise (maybe) and go home. But our Big Harry Audacious Goals (BHAG’s) as Tim Collins calls them in his bestselling book Good to Great are too often put on the back burner. How many times have I heard that someone wants to: write a book, travel the world, buy rental properties, start a blog or start their own business. But far too few have the focus and determination to start and complete those goals.
When I coach lawyers that haven’t had much success in their careers bringing in business, there is kind of a magic number, they all want to bring in an additional $100-$200,000 of new business in the next year. When I press them with ideas and options on how to get there, far too many of them aren’t willing to do the work. They have no problem setting the BHAG’s, but when it comes to disrupting their lives now, it seems far easier to put it off. In order to accomplish BHAG’s we need to change our behaviors- and this isn’t easy.
These three things have helped me accomplish BHAGs in my life. 1. A clear plan broken down into its components. 2. A defined end date and a way to measure your accomplishment and 3. Accountability. This can come in the form of a coach or peer, but you need someone to keep you honest and keep you focused. Setting and accomplishing big goals is addictive, but it is also extremely rewarding.
When I first started my business I set a goal to move to Australia for a month with my family and to have someone else pay for it. I wrote down the goal, planned a conference in Sydney with a partner I was introduced to through a connection of mine in Australia, found a great sponsor for my conference and was able to not only have a profitable event in Australia, but I was able to achieve a big goal that seemed impossible when I set it. They say we only use a small percentage of our brains, and I believe that setting goals and dreams for our future is one of the most powerful ways to better access the latent portion of our brain.
Don’t be afraid to set big goals, but be ready to pay the price to see them through. You only have one life, make sure it is spent focusing on those things that matter most.