210 – 3 Keys To Create Big, Audacious, Hairy Goals (Why There’s Nothing Wrong With Using Pencils)

It’s time to take aim. No time like the present and all that. Wait a minute, it’s already February…far too late to plan for 2014, right? Not necessarily.

I’m a compulsive planner. It goes with writing things down. One jot here triggers another thought…there. Before you know it I’ve filled a notebook full of gibberish. Well, okay – it’s not all gibberish. Some of it might be worth keeping. No matter. I keep it all anyway. Somewhere.

Don’t mistake me as a person not given to action. Truth is, in spite of my willingness (and fondness) for planning – I’m ridiculously proactive. It’s a hazard of growing up in fast moving businesses I guess. Back in the 80’s remember telling a rather slow moving colleague that I could make three decisions for every one he made. My argument – made long before anybody had thought of the whole LEAN startup movement – was simple. By the time he made his first decision I was on my third, which meant I had course corrected twice already. That put me way ahead of the game. I’ve worked that way for as long as I can remember.

I chronicle. I make notes. I record things. It’s a lifelong habit. Yes, some of it appears to be gibberish…and maybe it is. But…

Some of it ends up in a plan. More like an idea with plan potential. Why I do it this way will become more clear as I go through my little 3 item list. Why a list? Because everybody tells me, “People love lists.” And I read blog posts where the authors talk about the most positive feedback they get are when they write short lists of things. Nuff said. Don’t have to hit me over the head with it. Done.

There’s nothing wrong with using pencils. Fact is, ink is usually found in 3 colors: black, blue and red. Pencils? Well, I can get a pack of many colors. Cheap. People think pens show commitment (I.E. do a crossword puzzle in pen and it shows you’re confident). No, it shows you might be arrogant and pompous. Nuts, even. Pencils represent creative planning. Pencils show you’re committed to adapt, adjust and hone your creativity. So I urge you to embrace the notion of pencil thinking. Be creative!

Here’s my list of 3 things that may (I reiterate the term, “may”) help you create your big audacious hairy goals for next year. I’m snarky, but I’m also serious about these things. Consider them carefully. Please.

1. Go bigger.

“Go big or go home!” I don’t know about you, but I like home. So, that’s not much of a battle cry for me. I will confess something to you though. When I was young, dreaming big – planning big – was easier. I suspect school and adults beat it out of me, or tried. That’s how the world works. We like people who are like us. Dream too big, we’ll beat you down until you’re just like us – thinking small.

Big, audacious and hairy are not terms for rinky-dink goals or plans. Those are terms that conjure up gigantic, awesome aims.

“Oh, but you’ll just be disappointed,” exclaims the realist. Maybe. Maybe not. But for now, I don’t care about that. I care about what goes on in your head. The reason I care about that is because I know that’s where reality starts. In your head.

Living in my head has always come easily. Make believe. Imagination. I don’t have to concentrate much to create even brief moments where I can transport myself in thoughts of what I’d like to make happen. Visualization is what most would call it. Sometimes it might border on hallucination, at least in the mind of critics. That never bothered me.

I used to think everybody did it – visualized (not hallucinated). In fact, I was convinced everybody did it. I don’t remember when it dawned on me that it might not be so common after all. I was grown. That much I remember. Books should have been a clue. There were plenty of books and chapters written on visualizing. I need lots of instruction about a lot of things, but not this. Where was I?

Oh, yeah – thinking big. Aiming high.

It helps if you can see it in your mind. I’m not sure it’s even possible to think bigger if you can’t see the end first. Is it? I wouldn’t know how.

Here’s what I know to be true – we can all benefit from thinking bigger. Consider reaching higher. Consider achieving more. Consider being better. Forget those phrases meant to convince us that the difference between success and failure is razor thin. You know the ones. “Fractionally better.” “Marginally improved.”

Now, go thinking I don’t understand and appreciate the fact that we can be incrementally better and make a BIG difference in the results. I do believe that. In fact, I know it. But when it comes to thinking bigger, aiming higher and trying to be remarkable I don’t think we’re served by hanging on to the notion that if we’ll just be 2% better, then our success is assured. It’s a fool’s gold.

Be bold. Don’t hold back. Unleash the beast between your ears and dream big. Then plan even bigger!

I’m always working on a plan. A business idea. In fact, I’ve got one goal or plan that has been in the works for over 2 years. To be fair, it’s been in the pondering stage for about 2 years. It started out in the dream stage for about six months. It’s been in the more serious planning stage for about 90 days. It’s big. Seven figures big to start. Eight figures big to maturity. And I don’t expect maturity to take a decade. It may, but that’s not my vision.

Here’s my most compelling argument for thinking bigger. I don’t know of a single benefit of thinking smaller. Unless of course you consider smaller results, smaller accomplishments and smaller achievements being a benefit.

2. Be vivid.

Your mind, it’s your biggest tool. Your most powerful weapon. That visualization is important. What’s more – you need to make it as detailed as possible. Every little nuance is important.

Give it lots of time. I don’t mean that you take your sweet time coming up with thoughts. I mean, you give yourself to dwelling on your big goal. Think of it often. Camp out on the idea. Roll it over. Keep rolling it over. Go to bed thinking about it. Wake up in the morning thinking about it.

Imagine the finest details. Embrace them.

Part of being vivid is devoting sufficient time to the mental exercise of seeing the reality of the idea. The longer you hold onto the idea, the more powerful it can become. And the more clarity you’ll experience.

By the way, it’s perfectly fine to adjust the idea. That’s part of the benefit of being vivid. Refine it as you go. Think of it as writing your own story. The characters grow as you write the idea in your mind. They mature. They become more fully developed. So too does the action they take. Enjoy working through all these creative elements.

3. Act. React. Adjust.

Bold ideas require bold action. They even deserve it. Why have a bold idea if you’re not willing to put it out there?

All that thinking should spur you to take action, but not just any action. You have to take action that is congruent with your idea. You’ll likely have thoughts about who and what. Don’t shy away from either. Pursue. Vigorously pursue. Pursue people who can help. Pursue actions that can make the dream come to life. What you do will make the difference in a dream being imaginary or real. Do nothing = imagination is all you’ll have. Do something meaningful, repeatedly = that imagine you first created in your mind becomes reality.

Be ridiculously happy if your images all come to pass. More likely, you’ll find you have to make a few adjustments. For instance, I’ve had things like pricing all worked out in my mind. All of a sudden, I’ve been forced to realize – I was way off. Sometimes way too low. No problem. Adjust. Adapt your vision to the new realities facing you – and your dream.

Keep doing it. Push. Pursue. Adjust. Adapt. Keep working it out in your mind, but keep taking actions. Even small actions can progress you forward. But never avoid taking big steps, or reaching out to big people who can help.

Bonus tip: Don’t fall in love with one single bold idea. If you do you might become paralyzed from thinking of new ones. Form the habit of thinking of big, bold ideas and goals. The more ideas you create, the more easily you’ll create even bigger ones. Sounds ridiculously obvious, but it escapes many people. Don’t be shocked if one big bold idea doesn’t work out. You don’t want to be a one and done kind of a person. Keep creating more big, audacious and hairy goals. In idea creation, more is better!

Ready, aim, fire. Or, as Mr. Masterson of Agora and ETR fame is fond of saying, “Ready, Fire, Aim.” By the way, it’s a good book, too.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from William Hutchinson Murray, but often attributed to Germany’s answer to Shakespeare, Goethe (nope, he didn’t write it)…

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

Now, go to it.


P.S. Did it ever dawn on you that bigger targets are easier to hit?