A goal with a deadline can give you positive energy that pulls you towards it says Marsha Egan           

If you have ever taken note of how much more effective you are in cleaning up your work or your projects the day or two before you go on vacation, you can probably identify with what I’m talking about.  Because you need to complete a report, make a certain phone call, or set things in motion BEFORE you leave, you push yourself to get it done.  If only we had that kind of energy all the time!

Let’s think about this… what was present at the time you were trying to get ready to leave for that vacation?  You had tasks that had to be done.  You had stuff that needed to be done for work and personal stuff.  You had a list.  But you also had a deadline.  And that deadline was not a wishy-washy one – it was firm.  It was the day you had to leave. And the goals weren’t really all those tasks you had to get done; if you want to get right down to it, the goal was to have a great vacation, right?

You may have noticed the same kind of energy when planning a child’s birthday party.  Again, not only did you have the goal of having a memorable event for your child, but you had a specific deadline.

Too many people spend time doing rather than reaching.  They get into their routines and do the same thing each day.  They let their lives happen to them, rather than taking control. This is when they feel that they are “in a rut” or are losing interest in their “stuff.” Without something to look forward to, there is a risk of apathy, boredom, or disengagement.

One fun way to take control and add energy to your life is for you to come up with some new goals.  What is it that you have “always wanted to do?”  What would you like to do, be, or have before you die?  What new thing might you be interested in trying?

Goals don’t even have to be new. But they DO need to have a deadline. And they need to be specific enough so that when you reach the goal, you know it! Feel the difference between these two statements:

  • Some day, I hope to travel abroad.
  • I will visit Paris and Normandy before I turn 40.

For goals to energize you, you have got to be clear on the goal.  Too many people start out without knowing where they are going.  It is like being on a fast track to an unknown destination — you won’t even know when you’re there!  I like to challenge my coaching clients to think of a goal as a destination.  I challenge them to decide whether they are going to Chicago or to Phoenix or London.  Once you’ve decided where you want to go, then you can set your boundaries. How quickly do you need to be there? What is your budget?

Once you’re clear on the destination and boundaries, you can decide all the details of how you are going to get there.  Will you fly, will you drive, will you take a train?  How will you do this within your budget? When will you do it?  Too many people treat their life’s journey as getting in the car, driving, and hoping to get somewhere.

Successful people know where they are going. They have defined the destination.

And the truly successful people have not only defined the destination, but they have set a deadline.  Is one thing to decide that you are going to Chicago.  But if you don’t set a deadline and a target date, that goal will just hang out there.

Deadlines give goals energy.  They bring goals alive.  Just like the energy you feel when you’re getting ready to go on vacation, a goal with a deadline can give you positive energy that pulls you towards that goal. It makes it fun and opens the door for you to enjoy the journey.

An ancient Chinese proverb tells us that the journey of 100 miles begins with one step.  It also ends with one step, and 998 steps in between. A journey is not fun if you don’t know where you are going; but it can have great meaning and enjoyment every step of the way if you are focused on the destination.

So, take on a new destination – a new goal.  Then give it a deadline.  Watch your energy grow!

Marsha Egan, CPCU, PCC is CEO of The Egan Group, a Florida-based workplace productivity coaching firm. She is the author of Inbox Detox and the Habit of E-mail Excellence. She can be reached at MarshaEgan.com, where you can also read her blog. To listen ... (Read More)

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