Working towards our goals, I’m a big advocate of becoming our own cheerleader.
Be kind to yourself, count your small wins, pat yourself on the back and reward yourself with some treat or a well-earned day off.
All sounds good.
But in setting a deadline to achieve your goals, is it a good idea to put pressure on yourself?
Some say putting a deadline can lead you to disappointment as you can fail in meeting the deadline.
They argue it can cause anxiety, stress and frustration, and advise not to put pressure on yourself.
So should you follow that and stop putting pressure on yourself with a deadline?
Here’s the thing.
Setting a deadline itself isn’t the cause of terrible anxiety, stress and frustrations.
We all know this from experience.
When we start a new project with a deadline, we become hyper-alert with a rush of anxiety, a little stress, excitement and anticipation.
They are healthy and natural emotions that occur when we set out a new project, competition or assignments.
We feel apprehensive and nervous about whether everything will go smoothly as planned.
We stay attentive and, thanks to these emotions, take every minute we have seriously.
We focus intensely as we race against time to meet the deadline.
So setting a deadline and putting pressure on yourself isn’t an issue.
The trouble begins when you set unrealistic deadlines.
Goal Setting: Putting Pressure On Yourself
Unrealistic deadline causes a whole different anxiety from the one with excitement.
And it occurs, from the feelings of failure, long before the deadline.
You’re anxious because you know you will not meet the deadline because of the unrealistic expectations you set for yourself.
This unrealistic deadline sets you up for failure.
You can’t expect to run your first marathon in 3 weeks with no prior training and experiences.
You’ll most likely fail because you have unrealistic expectations of you with an impossible deadline to meet.
Deliberate and Right Deadlines
We set a deliberate deadline to challenge ourselves, knowing that the right deadline will induce uneasiness and excitement.
Which is not the same as panic-inducing anxiety by unrealistic deadlines.
If your goals are too easy and require minimal effort to achieve, they’re probably not worthwhile to pursue.
Either that or not that interesting.
That’s why dreaming big and aiming high is important.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with setting a goal and putting pressure on yourself.
That pressure pushes you beyond your current level and expands your capacity to reach a higher level.
It stretches you and allows you to immerse in something bigger than the Current You.
It gets you excited. Kicks you out of bed in the morning!
When you have a goal with the right deadline, you plan your day in a way you optimise the chances of achieving it.
You’ll likely get up early and put in an extra hour.
The deadline and the pressure that comes from it keep you on your toes, pushing you forward.
Instead of worrying about putting pressure on yourself, you need to go about setting a deliberate deadline in the right way.
An Example of Right Deadline
To set the right deadline, you need to evaluate your current ability and time available.
For example, if you want to start a blog as your side hustle and generate income, your deadline will vastly depend on your other commitments.
If you’re working full time, you may have one or two solid hours to work on your blog every day.
So, let’s say, you set a deadline to make money in 12 months.
It’s highly workable: you can easily achieve the goal.
The problem with this plan?
The time frame is a tad uninspiring.
The goal isn’t particularly challenging since you can easily start making money from blogging in 6 months.
Perhaps you want to make money as quickly as you can (who doesn’t).
You set a deadline of one month.
Now you’re likely setting yourself up for failure.
No matter how ambitious you are, you can’t bypass a steep learning curve.
A steep learning curve is a good thing: the more you learn, the better you get at blogging.
But it means that there are steps to follow before you generate money.
And remember, you also have other work and life responsibilities to consider.
Now change this deadline to 4 months.
That’s what putting pressure on yourself in the right way means.
It’s an exciting and healthy deadline that will compel you to maximise every minute you have.
Don’t be afraid of putting pressure on you when you set out a goal.
The right deadline and pressure will intensify your focus.
As a result, your productivity will soar.
It’ll enable you to set your eyes on the goal, maximise the limited time you have and complete your everyday task as effectively and efficiently you can.
With each task ticked off, you get closer to the goal, thanks to that little precious pressure you voluntarily put on yourself.
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