How to achieve your big hairy audacious goal

Stacey Ashley Blog

How to achieve your big hairy audacious goal

You might know by now that I’m in the process of publishing my second book, First Lead Yourself. The hardest part is over, the writing, and now it’s all about making it beautiful and accessible and the excitement of the build-up to the book launch.

So now is a really great time to reflect on the journey of writing a book because, trust me, writing a book is ever so much more than writing. And so, I’ve been doing that. I’ve been reflecting on what happened, what I learned, and what I would do differently next time.

Let me share with you some of my reflections on how to achieve a Big Hairy Audacious Goal with grace and ease.

Here are some of my lessons, in self-leadership and leadership, for tackling and achieving a BHAG.

1. Set yourself a goal.1. Set yourself a goal.

Set yourself a Big Hairy Audacious Goal.

  • What is it that you are going to do?
  • By when do you want to have achieved it?
  • And, to what level or standard?

My BHAG was to write my book, First lead Yourself, in 5 days. To have a completed manuscript that was ready to go to the editor.


The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.


2. Give yourself permission to do it.2. Give yourself permission to do it.

Giving yourself permission to work on an important activity or project makes it so much easier to set specific time aside to do it. Proactively choose this as a priority activity. Then it is much easier to allow yourself the time, the focus, the energy, to be able to focus on your important project, and not be distracted by other less important things. It makes it easier to say ‘no’ to the other things.

3. Set yourself up for success.3. Set yourself up for success.

This is about creating the conditions in which you know that you do your best work. It’s about environment, it’s about setting time aside, it’s about having all the tools and resources you need available. For me, that meant booking myself into a hotel for a week, so I could focus on writing my book without distractions.

4. Play to your strengths.4. Play to your strengths.

This is so easy to not get right. You need to work in the areas that bring you energy so you can reach your peak performance zone more easily. When you have a big important activity that requires your best, then you need to bring your best and that means working in your areas of strength. And for me, that means that I do not just write my book, I voice record it, because I’m more comfortable in that mode. Then I edit the transcript. So, for me, being a writer is not necessarily about writing to the page in the first instance. So identify your strengths and then bring them into play to achieve your goal.

5. Inform the people around you.5. Inform the people around you.

Let the people around you know what you’re doing and what you’re focused on so that they can support you in that endeavour. Because they know how important this is and that you are focused on it,  they can minimise their interruptions and their distractions, and they can encourage you as well. For me, this is about letting my family and team know what I’m working on, when I’ll be focused on it, and what I need from them during that time.

I also make sure that I find out what they need from me and have that prepared for them in advance wherever possible.

6. Build a support crew.6. Build a support crew.

Build yourself a support crew of people to help you with your BHAG. The people who can share their insight, their wisdom, their guidance, their challenge to help you overcome hurdles, to get new perspectives, and to keep you moving forward. They support your momentum, help you identify obstacles and develop options to move forward.

7. Seek Feedback.7. Seek Feedback.

Feedback is the gift of information. Without it, we lose opportunity. Seek feedback so that you can get different perspectives, understand how you are actually going, the progress you are making, and use that information to modify your trajectory towards your goal if you need to.


We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.

Bill Gates

8. Trust your gut.8. Trust your gut.

I think it’s very important to trust your own wisdom. Don’t just listen to your head, all that inside chatter, make sure you listen to your heart and your gut as well, so you get a much more comprehensive set of resources focused on contributing to the outcome that’s important to you.

9. Get a cheer squad.9. Get a cheer squad.

Find some people who will recognise the effort and energy you are putting in. People who will encourage you. People who will keep you focused on the progress that you are making, rather than what you haven’t achieved yet. These people are already your advocates. They want you to succeed. Have a look around and see who you can recruit into your cheer squad.

10. Self-Coaching.10. Self-Coaching.

Remember this is your BHAG. So it’s all about what you can do, not what you can’t do. Keep yourself focused on where you have control and influence.

  • How can you move forward?
  • What are your options?
  • Who can help?
  • What do you need right now?

11. Outsource.11. Outsource.

Such a key factor. Outsource the parts of your project that you’re no good at, or are not using your strengths. When it comes to writing a book, my strength is creating the content. Yet before a book is ready to publish it needs to be edited, multiple times, formatted, proofread, and so on. Then there is the publishing itself…multiple activities in here. These steps are definitely not my zone of genius, and I have no desire to learn how to do any of them. So I have an expert crew that does all of that for me.

Focus in your zone of genius. When you’re trying to achieve big, important goals, you need to use your strengths, focus in your genius, give yourself every opportunity to get into flow into your peak performance zone. So outsource the things that are not you doing your best work.

12. Keep your eye on the prize.12. Keep your eye on the prize.

This is important. Yes, there will be hiccups along the way. Things won’t necessarily progress as planned. But always remember, this is about the big goal. You don’t necessarily need to change the goal. You can change the pathway to achieving the goal.

Remember that the world needs your contribution. You have something that nobody else can offer. You’re unique. You make a contribution that is special to you. So don’t feel shy about offering it. Step up and do what you do. Make a contribution, make your difference. We need that.

I’d love to know your thoughts.

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AND: Whenever you’re ready… here are 4 ways I can help you grow your coaching and leadership: