Dancin’ With the Deadlines

Every writer faces up to that cruel taskmaster, the deadline, by using unique ways to deal with (or avoid) the myriad of problems that struggling towards a deadline seem to bring about. When you think about it, “deadline” is a really negative word. Reminds me of “dead” fish combined with a “line” in the sand…an ultimatum (which after all is what it really is). How much easier it would be to think of deadlines as goals instead, a much more positive way to spin essential the same thing.

At the end of each year, we all go through the same truly silly exercise of establishing, then promptly ignoring, new year’s resolutions. The best intentions combined with the worst process usually results in consistent results…as in, not much changed except perhaps a brief flurry of “feel good” vibes for the few weeks after we each convince ourselves that this year will be different, this year we’ll see those resolutions through to completion. There’s a word for that which also happens to be the noun for the pile of odorous waste found in a bull’s pasture. As Peter Drucker said, “Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.”

Success with a deadline or goal is usually achieved through small victories rather than one big battle (the new year’s resolutions approach). And small victories made often enough will compound to bigger ones, eventually resulting in new paradigms resulting in an improved process to set and acheive deadlines or goals.

For myself, I always work better with a defined deadline in place. Writing projects tend to be organic in nature, yet I seem to need the sense of that projected closing date in order to manage my time and do everything I need to do. Every time I’ve taken on a writing task with the well-intended requirement of “whenever you can get it done,” I never seemed to be able to get it done, at least not until refreshed by the setting of a real deadline. And I’ve found that if I set the deadline it doesn’t work unless I set some tangible rewards (or penalties) for performance.

So how does all this relate to goals? Simply that goals are by nature essentially deadlines, and can be treated the same way. You wouldn’t take a writing assignment due in 30 days without immediately sitting down and planning the tasks compared to the time available. And so you shouldn’t assign a goal without the same preparatory dedication and loyalty to some type of schedule designed to achieve that goal by the desired target date. (And you are assigning a target date to all your goals, aren’t you? If not, they’re not really goals, just wishes.)

Anthony Robbins once said (paraphrased) that you make a life change through one of two reasons: either perspiration or desperation. The same reasons are usually why goals are won: either by sweat and hard work, or after you’re finally desperate enough to want to make it happen (extreme motivation). For me, a long-procrastinated goal was to lose weight down to a clinically healthy body, partly to feel better, but also to resolve some growing health issues we all face eventually as we age. I can’t tell you at what point things finally clicked to make me get serious about shedding the weight, but part of the credit goes to my Dad via his role model as a survivor of a quintuple-bypass heart operation. Needless to say, bells and whistles went off in my head after that event. A little voice whispered, actually screamed, it’s now or never.

To help me keep focused on some of my goals, I’ve posted three of them on the side margin here at inkmusings, partly in hopes of embarassing myself into improving as the weeks go by. I’ll be indicating weekly progress, both in quantities and whether I’ve improved, fallen down, or stayed lazily the same via the small symbol indicators after each goal. These are not my only goals, just the one’s I’m willing to cut open a vein and bleed for in front of my blog readers.

One thought on “Dancin’ With the Deadlines

  1. Good points, Gary. I like how you posted some of your goals on the side as reminders. I think I’ll do something similar on my own blogger. While I can easily post my goals as an entry, I lose them as the more recent entries push them down.

    By the by, how do you get those arrows next to your goals? Something with your blogger program?

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