Setting personal deadlines: pros and cons

Personal deadlines: Beth Mende Conny explains the pros and cons.Next time you think of setting personal deadlines, think again. They have their distinct advantages and disadvantages.

First the Cons:

Deadlines are a smokescreen, a way to trick yourself into believing you’re doing something to achieve a goal. Trouble is, you should have been doing that something all along. That you haven’t, signals an underlying block. If you don’t address it, you’ll be setting deadlines forever and making little progress.

Deadlines are unnecessary. Not everything has to be done by a specific date. What’s more important is that things get done. A couple of extra days or weeks may not matter in the long-term. Set too many deadlines in the short-term, however, and you’ll have difficulty identifying the most pressing among them.

Deadlines are counterproductive when quality of results is secondary. Racing to finish doesn’t mean you complete a task. If you don’t do things well, thoroughly or intelligently the first time around, you’ll only have to go back in and make things right.

Deadlines are rigid. They aim for set results and leave little room for surprise. Creative gems often are discarded, their shine too distracting. The result: You drain the life force out of a project, making it more difficult to accomplish.

Deadlines are monsters. They haunt you day and night, creeping into your conscious and subconscious. Instead of concentrating on the task at hand, you’re forced to peer anxiously over your shoulder.

Now the Pros:

Deadlines are courageous acts. They give life to our dreams. Instead of merely talking about what we want, we begin doing something about it. That’s no small feat. We’ve got to rethink and retool, and set specific goals—all challenges in their own right.

Deadlines are statements, reflecting who you are and what you value. By setting and sticking to them, you prove to yourself and others that you’re to be taken seriously.

Deadlines are personal assistants. By organizing your thinking and doing, they help you work your way down your want-to-do-in-life list. You feel lighter with each item checked off and better able to pick and choose among the rest.

Deadlines build muscle. Every time you meet a deadline, you strengthen your resolve, making it easier to take on the next. That doesn’t mean the next will be easy, only that you’ll have a more optimistic sense of what you can accomplish.

Deadlines are necessary. They keep your eyes on the prize and your feet in motion. They set your course and mark your progress. They keep you grounded so you can reach the stars.

Bottom Line: Avoid deadlines that dull the mind and shrink the soul. Set those that raise the spirit and make all possible.

Beth Mende Conny,

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