I started writing a post about a week ago, only to shelve it after feeling like I wasn’t quite striking the right tone. I worked on it again a few days later, and then set it aside once more because something came up. Whatever it was, I don’t recall—Colin coming home, dinner being ready, nature calling dutifully—some unspecified detail of daily life imposed itself right at that moment and the post was forgotten about as other tasks took precedence.
I didn’t touch the post again, when it dawned on me that what I was lacking was a deadline. That without deadlines, absolutely nothing would get done, ever. At work, our team only manages to get any projects finished because of some hard external deadline. Otherwise, there would always be something else to improve about it, something to tweak, or re-do, or this, or that. Some excuse to cling to it and never let it go.
(Let me just admit that right now as I was writing this post, Colin came home and whisked me away to the bedroom for snuggles, a little chat about our day, and discussions of tonight’s dinner. I wouldn’t have it any other way, but things always seem to come up and my good intentions for this blog don’t always match up with the unexpected turns of reality.)
It’s not just because there’s a paycheck hanging in the balance; I always stuck to deadlines at school as well. It’s that there’s an external motivator forcing me to do the best that I can with the time that I have—a principle that is so easy to lose sight of. Daily life presses in with dental appointments, expired car inspection stickers, mounds of dirty laundry—things we need to Take Care Of, things we need to cross off our To Do list. Things that don’t need to be perfect, but just need to get done. That’s how we survive. We jump from one task to another, one goal to the next, journeying step by step through the days, months, years, decades. Why not start setting goals for the things we actually want to do, before our time on this planet is eaten up?
There’s an app called Everest that lets you set goals for yourself, with deadlines, and then add the steps you’ll take along the way to accomplish those goals. My goals range from relatively humble fitness ambitions to more lifelong travel and financial goals.
I’ve given myself a few years to accomplish my goal of owning a vintage camper, and who knows—as 2017 gets closer, perhaps my priorities will have changed and I won’t want one anymore. For now, that vintage-inspired Scamp camper is still on my radar, and I’ve given myself some wiggle room to feel out my goal, a few years to make it a reality.
My goals are mainly long-term, but I think it’s time to start extending my goal-setting to more immediate means of gratification. Time to start making goals of getting a massage once a month, or publishing my writing 3 times a week. Because no matter how much time I spend writing blog posts, if I never publish them, what good does it do? Time just keeps whipping by without a second look back. So here’s to deadlines! Here’s to turning dreams into reality by taking positive steps to make them happen. And if there’s something you’ve been meaning to do in your life, ask yourself why you haven’t yet shuffled your feet to make it happen. Then, start moving.