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What are Deadlines Anyway?

I hesitate to write this because I don't want to come across as wishy-washy. But I think it needs to be said.

I think deadlines are total bunk.

I get how they're sometimes necessary, otherwise we might never get anything done and I'll never let my kids read this blog because then my whole system - from school work to emptying the dishwasher - will come crashing down.

But for the most part, many of the deadlines we give ourselves are a little ridiculous and don't always allow us to live our best lives. This is true, both personally and professionally.

In my last blog, I wrote about the Mel Robbins book "Take Control of Your Life" and this one ties a little bit to that concept as well: that fear makes you think too big.

I think deadlines have a lot to do with that; we think we need to get something done right now or it will never get done. And that's simply not true.

I was recently thinking about adding a pergola onto my house. Actually, not that recently - I've been thinking about it for 4 years. But it was just recently that I took action. I called a contractor for an estimate. I talked to my bank about getting a loan to do some home improvements. All signs pointed to me being ready to go. And then I stopped.

I felt myself getting agitated about the project. It was making me nervous. And then I had a thought that made me feel so much better: YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO THIS RIGHT NOW.

Yes, I'd told friends and family that I was finally ready to pull the trigger. This was going to get done this summer! But when I started getting less enthusiastic about the project and more anxious, I realized that it was completely within my power to stop it.

I've seen scenarios play out like this in the business world more times than I can count. Someone sets their own deadline. Panic ensues when it seems like it's not going to be met. But instead of realizing that it's just a deadline that often no on will notice if you don't make it...they continue in panic mode until it's done.

And often not to their own satisfaction.

Yes, there are cases when one piece of a project is dependent on another getting done. But the truth is that most deadlines are completely arbitrary. Really. OR pieces of the project can be changed to accommodate the deadline.

Let me give you a few examples:

1. An author whose book is being released in a few weeks: She thinks that she has to launch it when it gets released. Guess what? She doesn't. That "official" launch could happen months later.

2. A business owner who's launching a new website/branding and has set a deadline. Guess what? That deadline can be moved to make them feel more comfortable and no one will notice.

3. The launch of a new product or service that you've announced will be available on a certain date. Guess what? You can move it. It's okay. Be honest with your audience and let them know you're changing a few things to make it the best it can be for them. Who wouldn't appreciate that?

I find that when you digest the concept that deadlines can be flexible (especially as business owners - isn't that why we're in business? To create a work environment that fits our personal lives?), things really open up. When you stop operating under the pressure of deadlines we often create for ourselves and allow yourself the freedom to create the best product/service/branding/whatever, things really start to flow. In most cases, the world will not come to a crashing halt if you need to push something back a few days or even weeks.

Just don't tell my kids I said that.


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