There is a traditional belief that tells us, in order to get anything done in life, you need to have solid goals. AND, those goals should have a deadlines in place for when you intend to complete them.
Deadlines can help you come up with a planning framework, keep your goals at the centre of your attention, and motivate you to take action. But if they are managed incorrectly, they can also be a cause of stress. This can be overwhelming and cause you to be non-productive. Suddenly the pressure of a poorly managed deadline has jeopardised your ability to achieve your goal.
So, what does modern opinion tell us? Should you set a deadline for your goals, or is there a more effective way to achieve them?
Let’s explore what the answers are to those questions...
The Benefits Of Deadlines
Examining Your Goals
When you sit down and really look at the things you want to achieve, adding a deadline creates a motivation boost. Rather than plucking an end date out of thin air for the completion of a big project, you can chop it down into bite-sized pieces, setting individual deadlines for each step or stage.
Deadlines with a motivating reason are much more likely to be successful than any old random goal. For example, if you decide to start training for an upcoming half marathon taking place in three months, you are far more likely to get running now than if you decide you simply want to get fit at some point.
Procrastination is the biggest obstacle to achievement. So an open-ended goal is likely to be put off … and off… and off. Suddenly you find that months or even years have passed without you taking steps to get where you want to be.
Keep in mind, that even the best deadline can’t entirely conquer procrastination by itself. If you are busy or distracted, then you might find yourself putting off tasks until the last possible moment. Then as that deadline approaches, you will find yourself needing to pull off a last-minute cram session! Stay on target to keep procrastination from sneaking in!
Adding a deadline to each of your goals helps you to figure out which ones are most pressing and prioritise accordingly. This can help minimise the sense of overwhelm you may feel when you have too many things lined up.
Sorting through the various dates and adding them to monthly, weekly and even daily lists takes the pressure off. You will know exactly what you need to do and when you need to do it.
Deadlines are effective when they motivate, push and inspire you towards success. They should be a positive source of inspiration. However, if you set too many, or create unrealistic deadlines in the hope of pushing yourself harder, you may find yourself paralysed rather than inspired. The balance between motivation and overwhelm can be difficult to maintain.
Setting Effective Deadlines
The key to making deadlines work for you is to fine tune them. Make them achievable but not too easy, so you still feel a sense of pride every time you tick something of your list.
A good example would be writing a book. Telling yourself you want to write a 50,000-word novel in the next six months is totally intimidating. With a task like that, you would be hard pressed to get over the procrastination hump and get started.
So, should you set deadlines for your goals?
The answer is double-barreled. Yes, you should, but be mindful of exactly how you set them. Factor in wriggle room for unanticipated challenges, be flexible on how you achieve the final outcome, and don’t forget to add in rewards for reaching those deadlines!
But when broken down into the achievable deadline of writing 1000 words by 10 am every day - you’ll feel pumped about it, and every time you successfully beat that deadline, you will get the rush of success and feel motivated to do more and more.