The Importance of Swapping Your Deadline for a Timeline

Swap Your Deadline for a Timeline

The objective here is to set a window of time—not a deadline—that you will devote to your cascade goal.

Here’s the difference between a timeline and a deadline: A deadline means that if the task is not accomplished by that point, you’ve failed. A timeline is an amount of time that you want to invest in making something happen.

What this looks like is this: If you’re willing to invest six months, you give up the expectation to finish by that time and see where you’re at at the end of that window.

You may find that you’re much farther along than you’d anticipated you’d be, or see that you need to spend more time to reach your goal. Either way, you can assess and evaluate your progress based on real-life data.

It’s important not to set a deadline because you don’t control 100% of the reinvention process. The only thing you can control is the effort you put into it, and the amount of time you’re willing to spend on it. You don’t control the world, or when an opportunity shows up, or how that opportunity plays itself out.

By setting a deadline, you take yourself out of alignment with the natural order of life. Plus, deadlines can create anxiety, a false sense of urgency and pressure. That deadline might not be in line with how your goal needs to happen.

Instead of trying to force a deadline like most people, decide you’re going to spend your time like you buy a stock. Carve out a certain amount to invest and look for results down the road, without setting a specific deadline for a payout.

Now your Type-A, ambitious self might say, “Since I control my time investment, I can spend more upfront to get things going quickly.” But ambition can cause you to make accounting errors and overestimate the time you have to invest. Maybe you’ve got a business trip, or the kids will be on spring break, or you’ve volunteered for a fundraiser, and the event is in three weeks. All of a sudden, life is happening, and your original investment estimate is not viable. So take a clear-eyed look at the realities of your life and adjust your time investment accordingly.

Next, you’ll need to customize your plan.

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