Career Advice – Arbitrary Deadlines

There are no accidents, right? A while back, I had the same conversation with three different people within 24 hours.

They all had a common theme: the absurdity of arbitrary deadlines.

The first was with a friend freaking out over a speech he had to write for Toastmasters. This happened every time he tried to write one. It was making his life miserable. He refused to quit because he had declared, “I promised myself I’d stick it out for a full year.”

The second was with another friend also stressing out over a coaching program she was dying to do but couldn’t afford. She insisted she had to do it now. “If I don’t figure out this year what I’m really supposed to be doing,” she exclaimed, “I know I’ll never do it.” Did I mention she is 29 years old?

The third was with a first-time writer who’d given herself a year to complete a novel. The date was fast approaching but health problems kept interfering. Instead of cutting herself some slack, she sank into depression. “I feel like a failure,” she kept saying.

In their words, I saw the self inflicted craziness of my own making.

A while back, I gave myself a similar directive: to finish my book proposal by the end of the year. Two years later, it was nowhere close to completion. I’ve been beating myself up — unmercifully — ever since.

(Warning: Self flagellation does not further the creative process!)

Don’t get me wrong. Deadlines are a useful tool to keep us on track.

The trouble comes when we don’t meet them. Rather than rethinking the timing, we tenaciously cling to our commitment or brutally reproach ourselves for screwing up.

What if I started seeing things differently? Perhaps there’s a reason I haven’t finished my proposal. Perhaps the timing will turn out to be perfect. Only in hindsight can I possibly know what’s actually in my own best interest.

As a timely viewing of an Abraham Hicks quote reminded me, (no accident again!), “Life is supposed to be fun…If you are doing it for any other reason, then you are not connecting to your Source Energy.”

There and then, I made a decision.

From now on, if I’m feeling stuck, if doors stay closed, if nothing flows freely and it ceases to be fun, I’m viewing these as indicators that it’s time to surrender rather than doggedly pursuing a rigid decision.

It all boils down to this: Would I rather live with the tranquility of trusting a Higher Source or tolerate the stress of self-imposed pressure?

Barbara Stanny is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.