living to deadline

I’ll write quick and then get to my real project for the afternoon. I mean, I have to get an enewsletter written today, but I can do it. I work better under pressure.

That’s what I always say. There is something about the pressure that makes my brain work more creatively. That’s what I always say.  (Of course, it could be the coffee that I’m drinking as I get closer to the deadline). And that feeling of success when I walk to the precipice and then finish…it’s wonderful.

Doesn’t seem to make much difference what the project is. There is just something about getting it done just in time.

If you are nodding right now, I have a question for you, the same question that hit me this morning. Is it possible that you and I have confused the idea of goals with the idea of deadlines? That we have made meeting deadlines our goal?

Confused? Here’s what I mean. Goals are things that you want to accomplish. Goals are levels of performance that we want to achieve. Goals are measurable and specific and achievable and all that stuff. (If you want to be more precise, google “goals”.)

It is possible for some of us to establish as our goal ‘making deadline’. It doesn’t matter what the activity is, we go for the rush of making deadline. The problem with that approach is the first part of the sentence: “It doesn’t matter what the activity.”

In order for us to change the world, even the corner of the world that we are responsible for, our goal should be to do something more than just getting something done. Our goal should be to do the work of our calling, to do work in keeping with our calling. Our goal should be to do measurably better than we are doing now with whatever that is.

Getting done is PART of accomplishing goals. There needs to be a deadline for accountabilty purposes.


I’m afraid that some of may get hooked on the adrenline rush.

Does that make sense? Any of it? I mean, I could probably take the time to explain it better…but I’ve got a deadline to work on.


6 responses to “living to deadline

  1. I think it’s part of our culture, Jon. We not only “enjoy” waiting ’till the last moment, we tend to claim our ability to deal with stuff at the last moment as bragging rights. For most of us it started pretty early in life, and it’s a hard habit to break.

  2. You have to get off my toes soon Jon! I mean, at least I didn’t pull an allnighter – but there’s always tonight, right?

    To some extent, deadline rush is a function of personality – MBTI P’s. Too often, however, I wonder if I don’t use that as an excuse and somehow end up not giving my best offering.

    Viewing our deadlines as the work of our calling certainly provides a different perspective, most worthy of our best.

    Thanks, as always, for challenging me!

  3. After reading both Jim’s and Cheryl’s comments I wonder if the reason we wait is a bit of both. We wait until the end because IF we don’t do as well as we think we should or could then it’s easy to blame the fact that we did it in a rush because we are so busy and have no time. but on the other hand if we do great then it just adds to our ability to boast. I had not time, did it at the last second and I still did great.

    In the end it leaves us with a win win where we can’t look bad or really take responsibility.

  4. Philip, Connie, Jim.
    It is our culture. We are celebrated for doing amazing things with minimal time. When we pull it off, under duress, we are rewarded…and we tell ourselves, “i do it better that way.” And I understand busyness and multi-tasking and multiple expectations. But I’m wondering whether, as you all are suggesting, if there is some excuse-making happening.

    This is growing out of my own wrestling. I resist setting goals because of deferring to helping people with theirs. But I have a feeling that what I’m really doing is making a goal of the buzz of deadlines, at least in part. Thanks for helping me think.

  5. Then there are some of us who need to learn to work productively without a deadline.

  6. It all reminds me that it is time once again to reread the wonderful tiny booklet entitled, “Tyranny of the Urgent.” 🙂 Thanks.