DEADLINE: “A line drawn around a prison beyond which prisoners were liable to be shot”
At the beginning of every year there is an aura of fresh new start. The old year is gone and we want to make the next 12 months better for ourselves. We write our resolutions and set up goals. We sign up to the gym, promise to spend 3hrs a day practicing our instrument and eat no more junk food for the rest of our lives. Then, March comes along and the gym is just a distant memory, we practice our instrument only when we feel like it and Ronald McDonald became our best friend.
This is of course all a bit exaggerated, but I always find that around mid summer, I have the hardest time focusing. My goals are still there, but it’s so difficult to make them real. It’s so easy to say “well, it’s ok, I still have another 6months to record those songs I have written years ago” or “Tomorrow I will go practice, but today I am way too busy”. Delaying our goals to an unforeseeable future is the most natural and easy way to escape them all at once. Instead, setting up REALISTIC deadlines can help make these nearly impossible goals finally possible.
To start with, it’s important to get a well calculated plan of action in place and try to not to be too DRASTIC or UNREALISTIC. For example, saying “If I don’t make it by the time I am 25, I’ll change job and try something else” or “I will move to LA and in 2 months and I will start playing stadiums and arenas”, that’s nearly impossible!
We need to set up deadlines that are difficult to achieve but NOT impossible. You want to be pushed to your limit, but not to the point where you will give up all at once.
For example, let’s say you set up as a goal to run a marathon by the end of the year but you have never completed not even a 5k run in your life. Before you commit to run such a long distance it’s important to be able to run short distances first. So before you sign up directly to a marathon, maybe it would be better to sign up to a 5k or a 10k run. Once you feel comfortable with your progress then try a half marathon and eventually you will get to run a marathon.
Breaking down goals and setting up small deadlines will not only make you achieve things you thought were way too difficult, but it will also build up confidence. In fact, having small wins will keep you in a positive state of mind and it won’t kill your desire to achieve your final goal. It will also help prioritising what’s important and stop procrastination. When the date of your exam is approaching, there is no way to escape it. You have to stop whatever else you are doing, prioritise and make time for it. Writer Diana Hunt put it best in her book “Studying Smart: Time Management For College Students”:
“Goals are dreams with deadlines”
‘till next time!