The Real Power Of Deadlines (And How To Set Them)

If I never promised to put out a Thursday blog post, you wouldn't be reading this right now.

Why?

Because writing is brutally hard.

If I didn't have a weekly deadline, I wouldn't just miss a post here or there. I probably wouldn't put anything out at all.

Catch that: I either have to write every week, or not at all.

Does that mean I shouldn't write? If I really loved it, wouldn't I just be churning posts out nonstop with no deadline? Absolutely not.

Just because you're passionate about something doesn't mean it will always come easily.

The word passion comes from the Greek verb paschó, which means to suffer.

Yes, you read that right. Passion=suffering.

Kind of reframes the whole "do what you love" thing, huh?

Suffering isn't something that most people just do automatically because it's fun. Suffering needs to have accountability built in. And as an entrepreneur, no one is going to create that structure for you (unless you have a coach). 

Which brings us back to deadlines. You need them. Especially with a keystone habit like writing.

When And How To Set Deadlines

If there's a good chance that you'll creatively avoid the thing you want to achieve, you should probably set a deadline for it.

Here are three ways to make sure your deadlines stick:

  1. Only set deadlines around things you can control.  You can't control outcomes, but you can control your own process. Focus on process and you will become more confident. Become more confident and you will become more productive.
  2. Be realisticYou're not going to write your first book this week, but you could probably write the first chapter. Also, don't set too many deadlines at once. Multiple projects dilute focus.
  3. Small deadlines are more important than big deadlines. Your year-long New Year's resolution is useless if you haven't figured out what benchmarks need to happen between now and then. The best deadline is the one that's due tomorrow.

So, you want to start a business, leave your job, or double your income? Great. When can I call you to celebrate?

More importantly, what are you going to do today to move one step closer to that goal?

I'll know you're serious when you set a deadline.

(Photo credit: Dafne Cholet via cc)

Greg Faxon

Greg Faxon, 2829 Connecticut Avenue NW (Apt 513), Washington, DC 20008, United States