goals are great, but...

Posted by Matt Brady on December 15, 2017

Goals are great.

I have an entire app on my phone (Wunderlist) that I constantly add goals to.

  • Write a short story
  • Submit a story to a publisher
  • Finish the ending to a novel I started writing two years ago
  • Write some songs The list grows and grows and grows…

The problem with all those goals and intentions? It just keeps GROWING!

I started off with a list of about four or five things. Now, it’s a list of at least 30 to 40 things, including some sub-lists on those individual items. Every time I pull out my phone, open the app, and look at that list, it makes my heart sink a little. All of those goals, just sitting there, with no place to go and no one to keep tabs on them unless they are completed.

Don’t get me wrong, I think goals are great. If I didn’t jot those little buggers down somewhere my brain would explode. I’ve got all kinds of ideas and intentions, but my follow-through is where it all starts breaking down.

In order to combat this, I’ve decided that I need to start adding a deadline to the goals I set for myself.

Just recently I wrote down a few of the goals I have for myself, and to the right of them I added in a deadline. It’s not a major, mind blowing addition to things, but if you are like me, I need SOMETHING to reference as an accountability tool.

A goal without a deadline is just a dream with no intention.

Writing things down is a great START, but that is only the BEGINNING of the journey. By adding a deadline, we are creating a sense of urgency and expectation that this task / dream / goal is worth completing. If there is no urgency and expectation, it becomes easy to ignore your goals and push them to the side.

I use to be able to sit down and crank out five to ten pages of writing in an evening. Why do I find it so difficult to do that nowadays? On one hand, I was working on school assignments and wanted to get a good grade, but on the other hand, I had a deadline to meet. With a hard and fast timeframe to work in, even my procrastinator tendencies were kept (marginally) in check because I knew when I had to have something completed.

Setting deadlines for goals is no guarantee that we will be able to complete them in the timeframe established. What it will do is give us a target to aim at, and help us measure our progress towards completion. Setting a deadline helps us face the target and clearly assess how long it will take us to get there. Once it’s established, then we can set about the business of actually doing the thing or pursuing the dream. Deadlines can be adjusted and extended later on if needed, but if we never set one to start we likely will never begin.

The moral of the story?

Goals are great, but deadlines are decisive in helping us reach our destination.