The Unhealthy Dependency on Self-Imposed Deadlines

I’m making myself crazy. I’ve been doing it for months. Ever since I decided I was ready birth to my next body of work. In a fit of over-zealous optimism, I gave myself till spring to create a brand-new class, complete with a workbook.

Well, spring is quickly coming to a close. Neither the class or the workbook is near completion. Not even close. I’ve been beating myself up—unmercifully—for missing my deadline.

I’m a big believer in setting deadlines. They’re terrific tools for staying on track. But, I’m recognizing, there’s a major downside to made-up deadlines.

The trouble comes when I don’t meet them. Rather than rethink the timing, I scold myself severely for screwing up.

Oh the absurdity of artificial deadlines! Yet, looking back, I see I’ve done this my whole life. In fact, I realize, it’s a habit that’s been hardwired in my brain. And the very thing I wrote my last book about—3 steps to rewiring the brain—is precisely what I need to put into practice now. Yes, there’s hope!!!

I’ve already begun the 1st Step: Recognize. I clearly see that chastising myself for falling short of an arbitrary deadline is unhealthy, unproductive and habitual. Sure, deadlines can be motivating. But self-flagellation is no way to foster creativity. Instead I need to recognize my adverse reaction with curiosity, not judgement or criticism.

Now, the 2nd step, Reframe. I need to see this differently. Looking back, I realize (big sigh!) new projects always got completed…just not on my schedule. Instead of defying reality, I defer to Divine timing, declaring: “I’ll create it when the time is right.” And I repeat that affirmation over and over again.

Finally the 3rd step, Respond Differently. I make a promise to myself. From now on, if I’m feeling stuck, if doors stay closed, if nothing flows freely and it ceases to be fun, I’ll take these as indicators that it’s time to surrender to Divine Timing rather than doggedly pursue an artificial deadline.

The essence of my rewiring experience boils down to this: Would I rather live with the tranquility of trusting a Higher Power or tolerate the stress of self-imposed pressure?

Which experience would you rather have? Leave me a comment below.

Comments & Feedback

  • Carol Williams

    Perfect timing – just woke up from a nap on a self imposed deadline train

  • Lisa

    I’m writing a surprise, non-fiction, short story based in the Castro, San Francisco paying homage to the gay people who have touched my life.

    I wanted to complete it during pride month. If I sent it during pride the message wouldn’t be as heart felt as I wanted to write. I guess it’s going to be a post pride message… At least I didn’t promise anyone a deadline – that would have put a lot of pressure on myself and let people down.

    • barbara huson

      Good for you for letting yourself off the hook, Lisa. I bet your timing will be perfect…even better than if you published it during pride month. This is an important subject…applicable at any time. It sounds like a wonderful project. I wish you much success.

  • Maria

    I hear you loud and clear, Barbara! I do the same thing for the same reason. But I’m slowly learning better and have this message on my laptop desktop to help:
    “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” Lao Tzu

    • barbara huson

      I love that Lao Tzu quote, Maria. I even used it in one of my books. But I forgot it. Thanks for the reminder. It’s sooooooo true!!!!

  • Bernadette

    “There is no emergency. My divine timing is perfect and serves you well. Trust my sense of right action. Your successful unfolding is my great joy.” — Julia Cameron

    Oh to remember this daily! I am ‘Home Free’ at the moment and for two months I have a place in lovely magical Ojai. I trust that the magic here will show me the way to my next adventure. I cannot push this transition, it has it’s own timing. I have let nervosity, fear and anxiety disappear, and am walking through my days her calmly as I await Divine Essence to show the way.

  • barbara huson

    Bernadette, everything you wrote is so powerful. I’m eager to hear what you discover in Ojai. Reading this inspired me…I think it’s time for me to go away, alone, for a bit and let the Divine show me the way. I too feel a transition coming, but haven’t a clue what that is. Thanks for sharing this!

Use The Form Below to Share Your Feedback And Opinion

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.

Top Back To Top
Site Design Rebecca Pollock
Site Development Alchemy + Aim