Chris Castig Co-founder of Adjunct Prof at Columbia University Business School.

On Solving Bigger Problems in Life

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Aurora Borealis

A few months back I was on Tinder. And I was looking at the screen, doing the swipe thing. Until finally…

This one girl. I must have sat there for a record-breaking 4 minutes debating whether to “like” her by swiping right. When it occurred to me: This is a STUPID problem to have.

This year, I’m committed to solving big problems. Important problems.  Problems worth living for.

Last month, while reading Harvard Business Review’s book On Strategy, I came across the concept of a Big Hairy Audacious Goal – often shorthanded as BHAG – which refers to life-goals that are beyond the limits of what seems possible.

Here are a few examples of famous BHAGs:

  • In 1910, Henry Ford’s BHAG was to democratize the automobile. He wrote, “I’m going to democratize the automobile. When I’m through, everyone will be able to afford one, and everyone will have one.”
  • Nike had the goal of crushing their biggest competitor in 1966, proclaiming the unthinkable at the time, “We will crush Adidas.”
  • Ghandi’s BHAG was to make India independent from British rule.
  • Comedian Aziz Ansari’s BHAG is to awaken people to the absurdities of modern romance and online dating (or something like that).

This year I want to focus on bigger problems. I want to set myself up for completing a Big Hairy Audacious Goal in life.

How to start?

A Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) is a 10-30 year goal with a clear finish line. It creates a vision for your life. Most projects you choose should tie into that vision. So take some time to think about it. To start, just observe what gets you excited. Also note that it’s possible for your BHAG to change over time, and that you can have more than one.  I’d urge you to start with one and refine it over time.

Once you decide on a BHAG, acknowledge it by sharing it with at least one person.  write it down, and tape it to your bedroom wall! This is important for personal accountability.

My First Stab at a BHAG for Life:

I’m going to spend this year thinking about goals that are more hairy, and more audacious.

My first draft of a BHAG looks something like this…

“To help raise the level of human consciousness on this planet through art and education. I hope to leave a NET POSITIVE result on the planet.”

That’s a ridiculously audacious amount of goal. It almost borders on “impossible”, pretentious, and absurd – all at the same time.

Writing it feels uncomfortable. It feels big. It feels more important than talking about my stupid Tinder profile. Time to delete distractions.

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Chris Castig Co-founder of Adjunct Prof at Columbia University Business School.