Big, Fat, Hairy Goals


Big, fat, hairy goals. BFHG for short.

I love list. Grocery list. To do list. Future plans lists. Project lists. If there is information I need to review or remember, my best friend is a bullet pointed Word doc. (Yeah, I’m weird. Also don’t get me started on office supplies or book stores.)

My favorite kind of list is a goals list. A list of resolutions for the new week, new month, new year, even the new day. My addition to list making is both a blessing and a bane. Because no matter how focused I am, no matter how early I start, I always, ALWAYS, put more on the list than I can humanly accomplish.

I say to myself on a daily basis. Don’t put more on the list than you can possibly do, because the pursuit will end in disappointment and eventually the important task planned at the bottom will fall off the list and be forgotten, because huge goals aren’t attainable anyway. Too much to do, not enough me.

When this happens I get discouraged and lose faith in my ability. The big, fat, hairy goals like- research Indie publishing , or submit to thirty agents, becomes more of a dream than a potential reality and my list drops into the mundane of emptying dishes and shoveling the driveway. Things that are safe. Things that I know I can complete in a satisfying manner. Things that don’t contribute to my life vision. But I have to admit that buzzy feeling of completion is somewhat addictive.

My biggest problem is the size of my goals. I logically can not work, care for a household, do my daily writing and editing, AND listen to half a dozen podcast, contact multiple freelance editors, pick through a hundred photos for cover, etc. (continues on to over fifty action items.)

I have found the answer is to have the big, fat hairy goals, but to rein in my excitement, and to adjust my expectations. Margie Lawson, one of my writing gurus, has a great article online about goal  setting and a whole packet about Defeating Self Defeating Behavior which I highly recommend. She suggest having two list. One a Winner list and even if you have dozen of things that need to be done, put two of your most important dream based goals on this list. These two must be done by the end of the day. She also encourages a Superstar list for when you have extra time to reach a bit higher and claw closer to those BFHGs.

I know these things, I just need to remember to implement slicing of goals on a daily basis and prioritizing. Keeping the ultimate vision of my life forefront and make enough progress to please my inner taskmaster.

Excuse me while I add, set realistic, bite sized goals to my list. Daily.

So what do you guys think about goals and achievement? Pro, con, too much structure? Please let me know in the comments.


2 thoughts on “Big, Fat, Hairy Goals

  1. Tina Smith

    I think the two things a day goals sheet works for me. I used to list out a ton of things for the whole week, but doing day by day just seems more manageable and I’m able to actually get it done. Plus I don’t fall over in a pity pile of despair when I don’t reach all 9,000 goals I listed for the month.

    Two a day is manageable. Usually one big one, one smaller easier to accomplish one. Then I have SuperStar goals, tasks I *really* want to do so I finish those original two to get to the SuperStar list.

    After we did the Self-Defeating behavior class together I feel I get a lot more done than when I was floating along doing what I “felt” like.

    1. Pam Post author

      I saved you from the dread spam monster. Yes, I think the Defeating Self Defeating behavior class was one of the best things I’ve done in my writerly life. It got me the hands down most fantastic, goals partner on Earth. 😀


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