Dear MotionWorks Family,

Happy New Year!  I’m not sure how we possibly made it to 2022 so quickly, but the snow covering the outdoor landscape convinces me to believe the calendar.  The best news of the moment is that the advent of the omicron variant of COVID-19, while quite contagious, may very well mark the beginning of the end of COVID as a life-threatening virus, relegating it to the insignificance of the common cold.

With a new year comes a new page, one as blank as a fresh blanket of snow.  No tire tracks or footprints, no stains or smudges, just a wide open space yearning for new opportunity.  And while many may set the routine two to three New Years’ Resolutions (feel free to check out "Just Say No to New Year’s Resolutions" for my take on resolution-setting), this year I am recommending an entirely different approach.

Have you ever heard of BHAG?  The concept is one developed in the corporate world, introduced by Jim Collins and his co-author in the book Built to Last in 1994.  A Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal is so much more than a corporate mission statement.  It’s meant to be the biggest, boldest, most outlandish goal a CEO can dream of, one meant to be achieved over 10-25 years by someone other than the original CEO who first set it.  The BHAG is intended to push past the typical small fish goals, to transform a company from good to great, from average and mundane to over the top success by dreaming way bigger than the usual.  The idea is to build excitement by setting a BHAG that is so grand, that it lights a fire to get to work today, relentlessly, to make this goal happen in the upcoming decade or two.  If you can achieve the goal in 5 years or less, your CEO didn’t dream big enough.

Some examples of successful BHAGs in history are the Model T- the ability to get the technology of automobiles accessible to the everyday man took decades, as did the Israelites of the Bible making it to the Promised Land (40+ years!).  Even Noah building the Ark (read the book of Genesis in the Bible) took over 100 years to accomplish.  

In modern times, one great example of a BHAG just might be the stated goal of Elon Musk of SpaceX.  His company’s BHAG is …”to revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets” (and save your cash, you have to buy the stock to reserve your seat).  As amazing as the success SpaceX has had so far in successfully designing re-useable rockets to launch people and products into space, this is just step one in the BHAG of SpaceX.  Jeff Bezos of Blue Virgin and Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic have similarly stated BHAGs.  And all 3 companies made amazing strides in 2021 toward making space travel for everyday people less of pipe dream and more conceivable than ever.

So may I propose a new concept to replace setting personal resolutions and goals in the New Year.  Maybe it’s time to think bigger.  Set a BHAG instead.

Setting a BHAG is a unique challenge in and of itself.  To set a great BHAG, you have to have no preconceived notion of what road to take to get there.  Because if you already know how you will achieve the BHAG, then no doubt you’ve already solved the impossible problem, which is the most exciting part of a BHAG.  While you may have no idea what solution will make a well thought out BHAG happen, there are a multitude of possible solutions to try over the 10-20 years it will take to finally achieve the BHAG.

And unlike the typical New Year’s Resolutions which have a 100% chance of success with enough will power and stick-to-itiveness, the success rate of a BHAG’ should be between 50-70%.  You will be dreaming so big, that it literally may not be possible to actually achieve a solution to make that big, audacious goal a reality (see the BHAG of SpaceX above).  So your goal should be attainable while not 100% guaranteed to be achievable.   Not the easiest task for sure.

No doubt such crazy, audacious goals are not palatable to all.  Some will not have the perseverance.  Others may scoff at such lofty thinking, deterring the person with such a BHAG.  It does take an entrepreneurial way of thinking- big and bold, with an acute awareness of reality, yet tolerance for such risk.  So the BHAG must be worth of spending at least a decade of your life chasing, and you may still be a decade away from achieving the goal at the end of the first ten years.

Maybe your BHAG will be more specific, and not follow the precise blueprint of the corporate version.  Maybe your goal, although big and audacious, must have a shorter timeline to achieve.  That’s okay.  What if your goal is simply not as crazy as people living everyday life on a new planet?  That’s okay too.  The goal is to reach for something beyond yourself.  To dream bigger than your friends and family could imagine.  The stretch goal to top all stretch goals.  But the goal must be meaningful and so important, that it is worth setting every smaller, practical goals as rungs in the ladder toward final BHAG achievement.  It should be exciting, invigorating you to get of bed each day, so worthy of your time and attention.  And it should be inspiring, so that when one road ends in failure, it is worth picking yourself back up again and pointing your feet in a new direction toward that very same BHAG. 

Finally and most important, you should tell others about your BHAG.  However, do not tell others until you yourself are thoroughly committed to this BHAG- that it should happen, must happen, will happen, and there is no other way forward other than working towards this BHAG.  No other goal is worthy of your time and effort.  Until you are convinced of this yourself, do not tell anyone, as you will not be persuasive and will fail to gain the support of friends and loved ones.  Build your own confidence, strength, and belief in your BHAG first, and then telling others about it will garner the support you are seeking and will need to be successful in your goal.  As always, cherish the journey and learn every lesson you can from the failure that no doubt you will experience along the way.  These are the stepping stones to reach any significant destination in life.

Daringly Yours,

Dr. Jill Murphy
Owner, MotionWorks Physical Therapy