I need a deadline. I wish I didn’t. I’d love to be self motivated and empowered by vision. Yet the reality is vision only gets me about 60% complete and the final 40% will require a deadline with teeth and consequences.
As a young procrastinating teen, I remember my dad telling me that projects will always expand to fill the amount of time allotted. I have found that to be full of truth. So I have had to learn to establish deadlines that force me forward.
A challenge is that my brain seems to fire more quickly under stress than it does under freedom. I guess that is because the tension of the moment forces me to ask better questions. And as better questions are asked, better learning surfaces. Some of my colleagues have joked about tricking me with fake deadlines so they could get my best input.
Over the last few months I have observed a simple learning:
Don’t leave a commitment before establishing the next commitment. Simple and doable, right? I think a simple power of this is that at the end of a project, you feel, as my fellow yogi says, “light and lifted,” and that is the best time to commit to the next project. I have made it a practice to not leave a session at Steamtown Hot Yoga until I have told Jazzy, Lara, Ruby or Yanni what day I will see them again. This simple commitment fuels my resolve to return, regardless of how busy or tired I feel. I’ve learned that if don’t create a commitment then I will allow other parts of my life to expand – pushing out exercise. So in the moment, when I am experiencing the benefits of the exertion, I commit to another time.
It works. I recently finished and published a book with some amazing friends – you can check it out here. We had been plugging along for 21 months. So what got us off the treadmill and to the finish line? Right, a deadline. Co-author Christine was asked to speak at Orange Conference and we decided to make it available for sale at the conference. The deadline forced us to prioritize and finish the project. During that final push I spent an evening attending Chris Brogan’s Online Course Maker class and committed to launching a class on volunteer retention before the first batch of books went up. Stay tuned for its launch.
Oh, and on a fun note, I have made significant progress on the Baja Thing due to some looming deadlines. More on that later.