On Deadlines

by phil on Saturday Apr 12, 2003 1:06 PM
success lessons

From personal experience, I've learnt that setting arbitrary deadlines on yourself tends to be a bad idea. Maybe if you have a problem getting focused, then saying, "Okay, I need to call up the DMV within a week" is probably a good idea. In bigger and more dynamic situations, deadlines become cumbersome and enslaving. Here are some examples where it is a bad idea:

"I'll give this relationship two more weeks"
"I'll give myself four years to finish school then I'm out"
"I have until I'm 25 to make a million dollars"

In having thinking along the lines of the above, I've always screwed myself over. I end up unnecessarily rushing things and don't get a chance to enjoy the free-floating nature of life. If you have a choice, you should not have a deadline unless a deadline is more of like a forced trial period. For example, if you say, "I'm going to spend this whole month trying to learn Perl" then that's good. i.e. time constraints that are more like discipline and less like abstract expectations on yourself, are better.

I think the distinction is clearer in that you shouldn't have a deadline that's meant as a way for you to measure your success. I.e. to you, making a million dollars may only seem worthy if you do it within a short period of time. Pssh, that kind of thinking has always messed me up. When you're older you only care about the height of the peaks you reached and whether you enjoyed the journey. Your only deadline should be your death.

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