To Achieve Your Goals, Set a Clear Deadline

In my first blog post about the 12 steps to achieving your goals we discussed the SMART (or S.M.A.R.T.) system of goal setting, which is based on goals being specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. While I agreed this is a very useful way of looking at goals, I believe it misses out on MANY other key factors that you will want to consider if you wish to achieve huge goals.

We also learned that Step 1 to achieving your goals is to focus on the goal that has the most meaning in your life. Did you decide on your huge goal?

Today we will concentrate on Step 2 in goal achievement which is Set a Deadline for your goal.

Think about a time in your life when you had a deadline. Perhaps before leaving for a trip, handing in a school assignment, or completing a project at work? You were likely extremely focused when you had a deadline.

Likewise, it is important to define a deadline or timeframe for achieving your goal. I highly recommend a three-year timeframe for a huge goal. But go with whatever timeframe your instincts tell you to pick.

My audacious goal was to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, at 19,340 feet, one of the world’s seven peaks and Africa’s tallest mountain. In mid 2003, most people would have dismissed it as a pipe dream, given I could not walk to the end of my driveway.

I then set a very clear timeframe of reaching this goal in 1.5 years, taking the opportunity of a three week school break in January 2005 that my daughter would have to undertake the trek with me, and selecting the best possible time for good weather.

Step 2 What is your deadline?

Think about your timeframe or deadline for achieving your huge, outrageous goal, and then write it down.  While in most cases this will be a three-year timeframe for a huge goal, let your instinct guide your timeframe, making it either less or more than three years.

To help you establish a deadline that you can keep use the following criteria:

  1. Make the deadline realistic. You want to put some pressure on yourself, but no point adding unneeded stress, unless you lead a very boring, stress free life at present and are really looking to spice up your life.
  2. Avoid deadline conflicts. Look at your other big goals, and ensure that your deadlines do not conflict with other key deadlines. For example, trying to finish 5 things to the same deadline will likely cause you to miss most deadlines.
  3. Write it down. Usually, what gets written takes on more meaning. So write down that deadline in as many places as possible so that you are constantly reminded of it.
  4. Think of sub-deadlines. If you can come up with interim deadlines to your big deadline, you will find that most helpful.
  5. Celebrate and evaluate. When you reach you deadline, celebrate. If you miss your deadline, evaluate why you missed it, and what you could do better next time. Then stop beating yourself up over a missed deadline and move on –life is too short to dwell on missed deadlines. Know that you can – and will – do better next time you set a deadline.

Now it is your turn. Take your huge goal and Set Your Deadline

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You now have Step 2 of your journey of goal achievement. First you stated a huge goal, which is challenging to you. Now you have set a deadline to achieve that goal.

My next post we will discuss measuring your success.

Please comment below with any thoughts you may have on the process so far. I would love to hear from you.