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“Empower your goals with deadlines” – H. Jackson Brown Junior
Have you ever set goals without deadlines? Sometimes, they seem impossible to achieve, don’t they? That’s exactly why I’m writing this week’s motivational post on how to set and follow deadlines for success.
Why Deadlines Work
The word itself it kind of depressing, isn’t it? Dead line. It sounds stressful! I really love H. Jackson Brown Jr.’s idea that by creating a deadline, you are empowering yourself. You may not know him by name, but H. Jackson Brown Jr is the author of the famous “Life’s Little Instruction Book”.
It’s basically a giant list of 511 small things that you can do to be happier, and make the world a better place. Like overtipping a good waitress, and watching the sunrise at least once a year. It takes a positive spin on life and provides you with small, effective ways to feel happier.
His quote about “empowering your dreams” does exactly that, too.
By empowering yourself with a deadline, you are creating focus, propelling an idea forward, creating the future.
Isn’t that a much better mentality and visualization than a skull and crossbones?
In fact, I’m trying to visualize this myself this week. Rather than groan and sigh over my PhD deadline, or the copious amount of work I’m trying to get done in a short period of time while swamped with other priorities, I’m going to stop.
Stop. Breathe. Visualize the finish line.
Like the moment you cross the finish line of a race, instead of a growing mound of pressure suffocating you like a noose.
Propelling yourself forward, instead of holding you back.
Do you see the difference it makes to think of the “deadline” as a different type of line?
What Happens Without Deadlines
Quite simply, without a deadline your to-do-list can grow and grow and grow, without any real progress! Without the visualization that comes along with the deadline, the finish line if you will, goals become blurry and distant.
That’s why I try to set SMART Goals with my students, to keep them focused on exactly how, when, and (mostly importantly) why they will reach their goals.
You really have to see the end to believe it will happen.
3 Ways To Enforce Your Own Deadlines Now
Well, that’s great, you say. Except – how am I going to ensure I follow my own deadlines? I’ve had people ask me this question many times. In fact, it’s one of the common questions I get in response to my How To Use Google Calendar post. It’s all well and good to make a calendar or schedule, they say, but who says you’re going to follow it?
I understand how much of a struggle it can be to focus on a priority item that you wish wasn’t a priority. Trust me, I’d much rather be spending my day practicing for my upcoming swim class, creating my next e-book, and working on my upcoming Teachers Pay Teachers store. Instead, I’ll be spending the rest of today writing up my PhD methodology chapter which is so close to finished but not there yet.
Here are three ways to stick to your deadlines:
Overcome The Procrastination Problem Through Visualization
Close your eyes. Imagine your future. Hang on to that thought. That’s it. When you think of it as a process, it seems complex. Of course, you can collect photos for a vision board, or write down all your thoughts. If you need a simple method, just close your eyes and think. Feel that incredible feeling of being finished. Hold onto that, and then dive right into the work you need to do to meet your deadline.
Find Someone to Hold You Accountable
Well, you know how much I love Accountability Buddies! These are friends, family or colleagues who are willing to nag you about where you’re at with your goal. Someone who really cares how far you’ve come, and wants to see you succeed. If you have to “report in” to someone every week, it sure helps you stay on track.
I know, I know – it sounds like you’re treating yourself like a child. But – it works! Choose your favourite meal, treat, outing, or (even better) a day trip out with friends and put that “finish line” right before it.
Tell yourself you can’t go on the trip unless XYZ is finished. You’ll mentally have so much more power to get there! For example, I’m planning a trip to the Priorat vineyards (one of Spain’s top wine regions). It’s just a day trip, so I don’t feel too guilty – but it’s enough to make me really work hard to get there.
What are your favourite ways to ensure you meet deadlines? I’d love to hear ideas you use to stop procrastination and start meeting deadlines in the comments below. I read and respond to every comment (that’s not spam, of course!) 🙂
Have a lovely and productive Monday!
P.S. Photography fans, the main photo in today’s post (and poster!) is one I took in Berlin last weekend
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