For 15 years I have been going fishing with my neighbood Ted. We rarely see each other due to our very busy lives so our fishing trips is when we catch up with each others lives.
Ted has worked for a Fortune 500 company since he left school, some 25 years ago. Even though he has a good job and salary, he doesn’t feel happy or fullfiled. Every summer when we go fishing he talks about quitting his job and starting his own company. The interesting thing about Ted is that when he tells me about his “plans” he talks about it like it’s a brand new idea, like it’s just occured to him that he should work for himself. He never does.
I notice the same pattern with clients that look for my help to set goals and make changes in their lives. They always talk about their ‘dreams’ as something that is in the future, close, but far enough that it hasn’t started to ‘happen’ yet. Ted has been telling me that ‘next year’ he’s going to quit and start a business for 15 years! I wonder what is his concept of ‘next year’!
One of the most basic aspects of goal setting and time management is the planning of how things are going to play out. That means how exactly you are going to pull things off with the resources that you have, and that includes time. In practical terms, it means having deadlines that will mark the development of your plans. No deadlines means no action. Without a set date when you expect to see a certain result, your plans are just dreams inside of your head, intentions, loose thoughts.
Most people have a hard time convincing themselves to set deadlines to goals they don’t share with others. Deadlines put pressure on us, the kind of pressure we dread and want to get rid of when setting goals for ourselves. A lot of our personal goals have to do with becoming more independent of others so we can have a more fullfillling life. We have a natural tendency to think that we don’t need this kind of artificial pressure to do what we need to do to reach our goals, it’s just that right at the moment we don’t have the time, life is crazy, y’a know?
I hear that a lot! I do understand that sometimes people need to focus on priorities of the moment and can’t put time on their goals. It happens to everyone. But then, if life is always crazy and you can’t ever find any time to make your dreams come true, then my friend, I believe you have a problem! Disorganization, bad prioritization and poor time management make life crazy but that’s on you. Life is not doing it to you!
I also see a lot of cases in which the “crazyness” of life is not really the problem, but just a lack of action, procratination, idleness. Putting a date to accomplish each one of your goals forces you to think about how plans to get there will fit into your life, no matter how “crazy” it is. I actually recommend that you plan how your going to reach your goal with several small deadlines leading up to the full achievement.
It doesn’t matter if sometimes you fail to make a deadline, what’s important is that you have them. Thinking about time frames will put into action, it will force you to come up with strategies to do what you need to do, insteaf of just daydreaming about someday doing something about it. Remember: a year from now, you would wish you had started today!