How Deadlines Help You Achieve Goals

Do you find yourself putting off tasks that either scare you or bore you? I know I do. If it isn’t something I enjoy or feel like I am good at, I tend to want to delay doing it. It’s commonly called procrastination. I have learned some things about myself in recent months that have helped me not procrastinate as much as I used to. 

I have discovered that when I want to accomplish something, having a deadline is helpful. It does something in my brain that tells me I have a time limit and then I must pay the piper. Now, that doesn’t always mean that I plan well and get everything done ahead of time but what would be the point of an actual deadline in that case? 

Last year when I was wanting to start a blog, I was busy doing research and taking courses and reading and watching videos, to prepare myself to become a blogger. My natural tendency is to research something to death but put off taking action. Since my new blog was all about No Longer Being a Bystander and living from the sidelines of life, I found it ironic that I was delaying getting started. SO, I set a hard deadline for myself. I set a start date and then I worked toward that time limit. 

An important element of setting deadlines for yourself is that you have to be willing to follow through. I want to be the kind of person who keeps my word and does what I say I’m going to do so I knew I had to follow through with completing everything necessary to get my new blog up and running. I told myself that even if it took till midnight, I was committed to that deadline. The good news is I did meet the deadline and it was only 5:00 pm.

Another way I have found to be helpful in following through with tasks or goals is to make a public declaration. A few weeks ago, I decided I wanted to fulfill a desire I had been thinking about for many years. I’ve wanted to be a trail runner so one Saturday while hiking with my husband, I decided to run a mountain trail for 1 mile without stopping. Now, I have never run a trail before but thought it sounded fun and challenging. So, I determined that I would give myself one month to prepare and run the trail in 4 weeks. 

That day, I made a public declaration on Facebook of my exact plan, thereby putting a hard deadline on that goal. I began training for that day by working out 5 days a week at the gym, specifically working on leg strength and heart/lung capacity. On the 6th day, I trained on the trail I would eventually run. It was hard, y’all! There were times I wanted to give up but I did not want to have to tell people I wasn’t able to meet my goal. Making that public declaration really helped me fulfill that dream. 

On Saturday, February 29th, I successfully ran 1 mile up the Pino Trail in the Sandia Foothills. It was very difficult but I overcame the obstacles, mostly my own mind, and reached my goal! It felt SO great to accomplish a goal I had set for myself. I’m learning to keep my word to myself and that is a new and wonderful thing to experience.

If you are a person who struggles with procrastination, I would encourage you to try setting a deadline and/or making a public statement that can help hold you accountable. It is helping me experience success in ways I never have before.

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