Our chief want (need) in life is somebody who shall make us do what we can.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
1803 – 1882
When I was in school, I dreaded and feared deadlines: the term paper due in two weeks, the book report due on Monday. Most of us probably felt that dread early on and carried that negative association into our adult lives.
But I came to realize that my thinking about deadlines was wrong. Hating deadlines was actually hindering my ability to have the life I truly wanted.
Because of my belief about deadlines, I was reluctant to set them — and when I did set a deadline, I could make very convincing excuses about why I should shift the date to a more convenient one. The deadlines I set were worthless because they weren’t firm; they were simply targets, subject to change with any excuse I could find.
Then I started to really think about deadlines and my attitude toward them. Here’s what I realized: when I refused to set a firm deadline or gave myself an extension based on a lame excuse, I was refusing to take responsibility for my actions and my life. And that discovery was pretty sobering.
I realized that I was allowing most things in life to slide. I was letting important time get away because I wasn’t setting deadlines and holding myself accountable. I had given up responsibility for my actions; I made excuses rather than progress.
The more I let things slip, the more I was putting off my goals, my dreams and my life. So I asked myself some very tough questions. I questioned my commitment to my goals. If I truly wanted to achieve something, what was the one thing I needed to make sure it got done? A deadline. Not a target date; a deadline I would honor.
There’s nothing like a deadline to force action. If you truly want to change your life and achieve your goals, start setting deadlines and don’t allow any excuses.
Have you ever said, “Someday I’ll write a book… take a tour of the world… paint a picture… do something that will leave a legacy”? None of those things will ever happen unless you set a deadline. Books don’t get written, pictures don’t get painted and many other things won’t happen if you wait until everything else is done. You must make time. You do this by setting deadlines and holding yourself to them. Most of us have difficulty holding ourselves accountable, so find someone to help you if necessary.
Make a commitment to start setting deadlines. And once you set a deadline, be ruthless about sticking to it. There’s nothing I know that will change your life as fast as setting and keeping deadlines.
In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.
1858 – 1919
Copyright © 2012 John Chancellor