I had an idea 9 years ago.
The idea was of a full-on dramatic production where I told the story of my first encounter meeting Jesus Christ in heaven. I was so jazzed about the idea that I told friends about it, wrote down a bunch of key scenes, and went to see some live productions to generate some inspiration.
Every month and every year, I kept saying excitedly, “Man! This is gonna be sooo huge!” and every month and every year I kept imagining it would come to fruition the following month and the following year. For 9 years!!!
Then one day, I met a friend named Cindy TeNieck. Cindy is not only a creative who has actual stage production experience, but Cindy is a time-management totalitarian. One of the first things she did was set a DEADLINE for when this production would take place, then we worked backwards. She set deadlines for when my 9-year-old script had to be finished, deadlines for when we had to have figured out a budget, cast the play, run rehearsals, secure a location, and advertise the event. We wrote it all down on paper, because in the words of financial expert and adviser, Dave Ramsey, "When you force your thought process through another layer and verbalize your thoughts, you reach a higher level of understanding. This escalation of your thought process happens yet again when you WRITE out your problem."
Almost immediately, something awesome began to happen.
I began to see with amazing clarity my 9-years-ago-dream slowly take shape. As we worked hard to meet all our deadlines (which we did), I developed a close new relationship with Mr. Deadline. Turns out, he’s not too shabby! He actually cares about my hopes and dreams and is just as invested in my future as I am.
True story, bro.
Deadlines are the real deal! Some might say it restricts creativity. True. But most creative people will probably tell you that without deadlines, we’re almost content to just keep dreaming!
So, my point? Start a new relationship with deadlines. Heck, impose a (realistic) deadline on yourself if there isn’t one already built into a goal you have. Write it down on paper and place it where you can see it daily as a motivator. You’ll probably be a little afraid about setting a date on paper because it suddenly means you need to start working harder, but trust me, deadlines will get you to your desired destination faster. In the words of the ever-hilarious, ever-awesome Jon Acuff, "if there’s one thing fear fears, it’s paper."
In that same light, you know what procrastination fears more than anything else? Yup. DEADLINES!
Lemme get all spiritual on you for a moment. Did you know that God also has deadlines? Yeah, seriously! I'll share two.
- Acts 17:31 says, "For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man [Jesus Christ] he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead."
- Here's another one in Matthew 24:14, "And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come."
As it turns out, God is not just in heaven twiddling His thumbs. He's on the move to and fro throughout the earth, rallying men and women to Himself through faith in Christ. When the last soul gets saved, (God's DEADLINE) then the veil between heaven and earth will be removed and God's plan for eternity will begin to unfold.
So if the creator of heaven and earth finds it necessary to have deadlines for His sovereign plans, then guess what? "Arise O Sleeper and set a deadline for your dreams!"
If you happen to work at a job where deadlines are a dreaded way of life, rather than allow it to work against you, consider turning it into an ally. So, your boss says a project is due on the 31st? Break it down into manageable pieces. Set smaller goals like coming up with 3 things that you can easily knock out by the 15th (that will make the end goal more reachable). Once you hit those 3, set 2 more you can knock by the 25th, and so on. I realize it isn't always that easy, but you kinda don't have an option!
I leave you with this quote from Adam Savage (the not-so-bearded dude from Myth Busters), “Deadlines refine the mind. They remove variables like exotic materials and processes that take too long. The closer the deadline, the more likely you'll start thinking waaay outside the box.”
I repeat, DEADLINES ARE YOUR FRIEND! (Oh, by the way, that dramatic production from 9 years ago? Totally nailed it! It resulted in a 2 weekend showing (packed house at all 4 shows) titled, “ON THAT DAY” – CHECK OUT THE VIDEO HERE - Starts at 03:24)