I'm going to let you in on a little secret...
Successful people thrive under pressure. Not overwhelming soul crushing pressure, but rather, a positive challenging pressure. Top performers are usually competitive in nature, not always externally but almost always internally. They love to challenge themselves and force themselves into uncomfortable situations only to come out on top and prove to themselves they can in fact do it. What's their secret?
We've already discussed how setting goals is one of the most important ways to set a plan for the future, to improve on what we already have, and to be better than yesterday. Here's the catch though... I don't care how good or realistic your goal is... if you don't give yourself a time frame to complete that goal, there's almost no point in having it at all.
So why are deadlines so important?
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1) Deadlines create a healthy sense of urgency
If you've never heard of Parkinson's Law, this will be an important lesson for you. Parkinson's Law states that "Work will swell in complexity and importance based on the time allowed for it to be completed."
Ever had a paper that was due at the end of the semester that you had months to work on but waited until the last week, yet you were able to get it done? Ever have a boss ask you to put together a presentation the night before and you somehow pulled it off? What about that one email you had all week to send but forgot about it until you left the office for the weekend kicking yourself for not just doing it.
These are all examples of Parkinson's Law. If we have more time to complete a task, we will take more time to complete that task. The more time we give a task the more important we make ourselves think it is. We begin to over think, over analyze, and doubt ourselves. However, if we give ourselves a deadline, we force our brain to cut out all the distractions, dig down, and get the work done. When push comes to shove, you'll find a way. You know it's true.
2) Deadlines hold you accountable
If you're anything like me and like the vast majority of people in the world, if you don't set a deadline to do something, you'll keep pushing it off. That task loses its sense of importance. Other things will come up and distract you. Before you know it a month has gone by and you still haven't gone for that jog after work.
If you're serious about setting goals and really have a desire for self improvement, it's vital that you set deadlines and hold yourself accountable. Start small and build on your momentum.
-Today I will drink half my body-weight in ounces of water.
-I will wake up without pressing snooze tomorrow.
-I will spend 1 hour mobilizing before Saturday
-I will spend 2 hours this week working on a new language and hold a 5 minute conversation with a friend (or stranger) in that language by the end of the month
3) Deadlines help eliminate procrastination
We tell ourselves all the time, "I'll get it done... (eventually)". We put it off or forget about it altogether. It hasn't been an issue (yet) so we put it on the back burner. However, the more time that passes by, the greater the chance of the issue growing and coming back to bite us.
Let's take mobility for instance. Most of us go our whole lives without thinking twice about it. We've gotten by just fine so far. We might have the occasional knee or back pain but we justify this as "the cost of doing business." We tell ourselves that "I'm just old" or "the same thing happens to my friends when they exercise. I'm no different." Then one day out of the blue you're out for a jog and you pull your hamstring. Didn't even see it coming!
Our bodies default state should be pain free. Pain is a symptom of some underlying issue that needs fixed. If we spend the majority of our life living a sedentary lifestyle and sit in a bad position (back rounded, shoulders slouched, glutes turned off, knees caving in) then of course we're going to experience pain when we exercise and be prone to injury. It's not our age, it's years of bad positioning habits finally starting to show their face!
Deep down you know this is true. You know you shouldn't be in pain. Have the discipline to set a deadline. Spend an hour or two each week mobilizing your tissues and I promise it will pay off. If caught early enough you shouldn't need surgery to fix the majority of issues you will encounter. You just need the drive and discipline to do it.
4) Deadlines can help create a sense of accomplishment
If you're reading this post, there's a good chance there are some goals you've had in the back of your mind that you've never accomplished. You may "wish" and "want" or "dream" about these goals but you haven't been able to make them come true.
When you set a deadline for yourself and you accomplish that goal, the feeling is amazing. Even if it's a small goal, the feeling of accomplishment you get will be enough for you to want to try something else, something bigger, something a little more uncomfortable. Before you know it you'll be kicking butts and taking names, accomplishing more in a month than you previously did in a year.
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Here's my challenge for you... your first deadline... start here are build upon your momentum...
Before you go to bed tonight, write down 3 tasks you want to complete tomorrow. They can be simple tasks like mobilizing for 15 minutes when you wake up, or tasks you've been wanting to get done for a while like refinancing student loans. Either way, write them down and complete them. I can promise you the sense of accomplishment and the momentum you will build will set you off on the right foot. Now go and get s*** done!