Many years ago, when I had less grey in my beard, I hadn’t yet gotten into the habit of setting a deadline for my goals.
At best, the specifics of my due date were relegated to, “a year from now I will have accomplished … (insert specifics of goal here).” At worst, my thinking was that I’d work as hard as I could to accomplish my goal, and that it would be completed ASAP.
Boy was I wrong.
What I’ve found is that having no due date adds ZERO immediacy to accomplishing a goal. And having a due date of “a year from now,” meant I was the guy who had a rolling due date of exactly ONE YEAR FROM NOW — so I was never getting any closer to the due date!
In both of these circumstances, there was no sense of urgency. Adding a deadline gives us two “action drivers” — immediacy and urgency, motivating us to move forward instead of being in a place of stasis.
Plus, a deadline does something else useful — it helps us be mindful of a goal.
This is especially true if we review our goals on a daily or weekly basis, which I highly recommend. Maybe you’re geeky like me and have a reminder app or goals app to help you stay on track. Or maybe you prefer an analog process of stay mindful of your goals — like a nice notebook.
When we’re mindful of a goal, we’re much more likely to take action on it because it’s literally top-of-mind on a daily basis.
Regardless of your exact process, placing an actual date on a goal moves you closer to the deadline each day. And as we all know, when a deadline we’ve committed to draws closer, we get moving in an effort to accomplish our goal (or project). The pressure of an oncoming deadline creates the momentum necessary to accomplish it. Otherwise, it’s just too far away to take seriously.
Missing Your Deadline
What if a deadline arrives and we haven’t accomplished our goal?
We reassess, and figure out why we weren’t able to accomplish our goal. Maybe our initial time projection was unrealistic, or we had more to learn/do than expected.
Regardless of the details, this should not be looked at as a failure. Instead, it’s an opportunity to refocus our course on a goal, reassess the steps we need to take to get there, and set a revised plan of action into place. Of course, we will also need to update our deadline.
Discovering, Defining and Setting Goals
These days, I have one-year, two-year and five-year goals for my business. I’m always looking a few steps ahead, as well as a few miles down the road. I’m able to do this because I’ve learned how to discover, define and set my goals (in large part, thanks to Mr. Zig Ziglar).
If you’d like help discovering, defining and setting your business and personal goals, check out the other installments of our series: