I don’t know about you but I used to read that word and my heart would sink. The very phrase contains the word ‘dead’ for goodness sakes and somehow it held the death of all inspiration. A deadline was just someone else wanting something more from me at a time that suited them. So that didn’t work too well for me in the past then!
My perspective is different today. Whether I have grown up a bit, or I simply feel more empowered about my working life, now I know that a deadline can be of real benefit to me.
So what does a a deadline being that is so valuable? A deadline brings accountability and a deadline brings focus.
Being a perfectionist, given all the time in the world to complete a project. I will indeed take all the time in the world to do so, and it STILL wouldn’t be good enough. If I have to do it by the time someone requests it, or by the time I have to move into another role, or by the time a five year old comes through the door, it serves to focus me. I might have to settle for ‘good enough’, but as my husband says, ‘your good enough is probably close to other’s excellent as you are such a pedant’. (I have never worked out is his comment is a complement or not BTW!).
The accountability aspect of a deadline is essential in two ways. Firstly, external accountability can serve to trigger you into completing a task you would rather avoid. Most of us recognise the pressure of a looming tax return and the risk of a penalty.
External accountability can also serve to draw forth our strengths. For people who are in a consultancy or a sole trader role, I actively encourage the taking on of extra deadlines. Yep! I know! Thats just what you need when you are trying to fulfil every function in your business, more commitments! But, these kinds of commitments can be the really rewarding ones. Enter that competition, put yourself up for a public presentation, bid for work you feel is outside you remit, big yourself up in a lavish marketing campaign. These things are really challenging, but when they are time limited, they stimulate real growth and resilience in our professional selves and they are SO full filling. This is the way to be the best that we can be. This is the professional stretch. This is the benefit of the deadline. Try setting your own deadlines and see just how much you can do!
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