How a big, hairy, audacious goal can actually be a good thing

March 20, 2012

Although I had several work buddies during my 7 year stint in the corporate world, I never really thought of any of them as friends.

Work Buddy: someone you chat with in the break room and go out to lunch with once in a while.

Friend: someone you choose to see on the weekends.

Big difference.

So it’s kind of surprising that there’s an old work buddy of mine who holds a very strong and specific place in my daily motivation, and is one of the main reasons I have enjoyed the successes that I have.

We were in a car, on our way out to lunch. He was in the back seat, another buddy was in the front passenger seat, I was driving. We had hopped into my car and driven the short distance to another building on our sprawling corporate campus to pick up yet another work buddy.

I had recently launched my first network marketing business (the one that would eventually fail miserably). It was the summer of 2006 and I was 25 years old. We were waiting a minute at the curb for our last passenger to finish with his meeting. There was a brief moment of silence in our conversation and Mr Work Buddy, a genuinely kind man, let out a dramatic sigh and made a comment that was something along the lines of, “Someday I’m going to get out of this place. Someday.”

I agreed with him, and then said, “Yup, and I’m working as hard as I can to make it happen for myself.”

“Oh that’s right,” he replied. “How is your new business going?”

“It’s great! Thanks for asking.”

There was a slight pause, and then for some reason unbeknownst to me, I blurted out, “My goal is to be making twice my salary a year from now, and then I’ll quit my job.”

I’m not sure why I said it. Work Buddy had inquired how things were going but he didn’t really care deep down, he was just trying to be nice. And I think I knew that at the time, but for some reason I felt compelled to lay it all on the line and vocalize my enormous goal.

Needless to say, he thought my goal was hilarious and burst out laughing. The gal in the front passenger seat did too. It wasn’t that they were laughing at me, per se, it was just that what I had just shared with them seemed so out there, so incomprehensible, that they had no idea how to respond other than to laugh at the absurdity of it.

I remember chucking lightly with them, kind of nervously, silently berating myself for sharing something so stupid with people that didn’t think along the same lines I did.

The end of the conversation came when, after their laughter died down, Work Buddy said, “Well, good luck with that!” and they both laughed again.

The person we were waiting on finally emerged from the building, we went off to lunch, and I’m sure the whole conversation was immediately forgotten.

By them, I mean. It was not forgotten by me.

That was the first time that I not only shared my crazy goal, but really defined it. I knew I wanted to generate income streams outside of work and I knew that I someday wanted to be able to work full-time for myself doing what I pleased when I pleased, but I didn’t have that kind of definition until that moment.

Make twice my salary in 12 months. Quit my job.

That wasn’t just a goal. It was a big, hairy, monster of a goal.

And I had shared it with someone. And that someone had doubted me.

I have no idea if Work Buddy would ever remember this conversation, but if he ever stumbles upon this post and recognizes himself, there’s only one thing I would want to say to him:


Your 5-word response to my big, hairy goal has kept me going for years. I don’t think about it daily, but I definitely think about it at least once a week. Once a week for the past five and a half years I have pictured the car, the parking lot, the direction we were facing, and the look I gave you in the rear view mirror as I nervously chuckled while you laughed and laughed at my proclamation.

Thank you for what you said. It has provided more motivation than practically any other moment in my life.

As it turns out, I didn’t make that goal. I was not making twice my salary by the next summer and I most definitely didn’t quit my job.

But I eventually did. It wasn’t the summer of 2007, it was the first month of 2010. But I made it happen. I set a hairy, audacious goal. I vocalized it. And I made it happen.

That’s what I’d recommend for you, too.

Set a goal. And not just any goal, but a hairy one, an ugly one, a super duper crazy you’ve got to be kidding me goal.

And then share it with someone. Anyone. Because the moment you share it, it becomes real. Keep it to yourself and you might as well just call it a dream.

What would it hurt?

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