The Absurdity of Arbitrary Deadlines

“Want to make God laugh? Tell Her your plans”–anonymous


There are no accidents, right? Yesterday, I had the same conversation with 3 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. But he refused to quit because, he declared, “I promised myself I’d stick it out for a full year.”

The second was with another friend also freaking 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 —finish my book proposal by the end of the year. Two years later, it’s 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’ve not finished my proposal. Perhaps the timing will turn out to be perfect. Only in hind sight can I possibly know what’s actually in my own best interest.

As today’s 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? Duh!!!

Filed under: Life Lessons

Comments & Feedback

  • Thank you for this post! I only discovered you today and am very happy to have found you! There are times when I procrastinate and generate my own stress. Then there are times when I fail to pay attention to the numerous signs that say-“Not now!” Blinders up, helmet on, I run into the wall over and over. I fool myself into thinking I can break it down. I need to read the signs, change direction, and simply ask that Higher Source to let me know when the time is right. Willfulness and blindly pursuing a goal have often been the root of some of my biggest messes! Thanks again!

  • leni garfunkel

    I literally just took a gulp of fresh spring air when I read this blog.

    I am a student of Think and Grow Rich, but the idea of arbitrary deadlines just never felt comfortable to me. I may be just using my thinking as a way to procrastinate or not take enough responsibility for working as hard as I think I should, and so this abhorance of deadlines may be only selfserving.

    Be that as it may, with my sign ” Relax, God is in charge” visible as I walk to my bed many times a day, the freedom and relief I feel right now can only lead to bigger and better things.

  • This is so perfect today. I needed a day off to regroup. I am comic speaker and last week I did two seminars, and traveled and had my daughter face a big health crisis. All that and this week I said I had to write the second draft of the movie. NOW. I mean today. Reading this post and comments of God is in charge and not me. A great reminder. Plus I have a pair of socks almost knit so its not al; bad.

  • Thank you for this post. I am a two time lawschool and masters program dropout. I never felt like a failure for quitting but as I struggled to subscribe to the traditional route to success it felt forced. Upon quitting school, getting clear about my desires and diving DEEP into practicing the law of attraction I figured out that entrepreneurship might just be the route for me. I too am a Jerry and Esther Hicks fan and believe that if something is too hard then perhaps I am going against what I am meant to be doing. That is not to say that being lazy and fearing a challenge is the answer. I just believe that it is OK to relax a bit when attacking life’s “to do” lists.

  • I have never liked the word “deadline.” Did you know that in former times, if you did not meet a deadline you could literally wind up dead? What a negative concept! I much prefer the phrase “time-frame,” which has a little more flexibility in it. Thankfully I’ve learned to allow my time-frame to shift when needed, so I’m not beating my head against a wall!

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Meet Barbara Huson

When a devastating financial crisis rocked her world, Barbara Huson knew she had to get smart about money… and she did. Now, she wants to empower every women to take charge of their money and take charge of their lives! She’s doing just that with her best-selling books, life changing retreats and private financial coaching.

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