In everything we do, we strive to make the “right” choice at minimum, and the “perfect” choice where possible.
Whether it’s choosing a passion, business idea or niche, significant other, or even something as trivial as what to watch next on Netflix, we feel the pressure to choose well.
This tends to steal our joy in the shorter and longer term.
In the short term, we end up focusing on all the other choices we could have made. And we tend go back on our choices relatively quickly.
In the long term, we go back to the moment of decision, wondering what it would have been like to choose a different path, assuming that another path would have been better by comparison.
Where there is the incessant pressure to make the perfect decision, expect unhappiness.
Why? Because you’re expecting perfection. So, you’re not willing to accept anything other than what you would consider perfect – from yourself and from others. As result, you will feel like a failure every time you fail to make a perfect decision.
People who commit to the choices they make are happier because they don’t constantly second guess themselves. They understand that life won’t be “perfect” under any circumstances. They can see that the abundance of options isn’t going to make one iota of difference to their happiness.
And don’t forget, perfect is only an opinion, and everyone has their own.
Then, I decided I wanted to create a three-tier offer based on the book. So, I developed bonus content and started putting together what I called Pro Packs.
I wanted the offer to have some urgency, so I put a hard deadline on it. The sales page had a countdown timer too.
But this deadline wasn’t just for my prospects and buyers. It was also for me.
This deadline quickly moved me to action because it meant I would need to create the bonus content, set up the sales page and offers, and promote it in the timeframe I’d set for myself. After that date, the offer was going to go away. So, I needed to act with urgency.
This constraint helped me come up with a lot of great marketing ideas.
Screenwriter Martin Villeneuve said:
Problems are hidden opportunities, and constraints can actually boost creativity.
In total, there weren’t many takers for the most expensive tier in my offer. But because of these efforts, my book ended up having one of its best months.
Why Are Deadlines Effective?
Effectiviology says “deadlines can help reduce the likelihood that you will procrastinate both when they are self-imposed as well as when they are external.”
Basically, deadlines work just as well for personal projects and product creation as they do for client work or work in general.
Further, deadlines are effective because:
They can make your goals feel more concrete. When you don’t have deadlines, you don’t have to show up or do something by a specific date. But if you know you’re going to be running a marathon next month, you’ll spend time preparing because you must.
They can help you throw your hat over the fence. Which means to make a commitment in advance of the action or result. You’ll be less likely to procrastinate, because now you’ve got to chase that hat down.
They can inspire structure. As seen in the personal example I shared earlier, deadlines can inspire innovation and action. When you don’t have deadlines, your next actions can be murky and uncertain. Basically, without a deadline, you let yourself off the hook and allow yourself to be wishy-washy in its completion.
Are Deadlines Always Beneficial?
No, not always.
What matters most is that you use them to your advantage. Not try to create a reality distortion field a la Steve Jobs (unless you want to work yourself to the bone…).
Research has already shown that deadlines don’t always work. And to be honest, no one likes to live in deadline hell. You can set too many deadlines.
So, how can we avoid these pitfalls?
Herbert Lui’s article on The Freelance Creative offers some clues. These are my main takeaways:
Set aside adequate time to work on the deadline. Ensure that you aren’t scrambling to meet a deadline at the last minute. Allocate time to the project in your schedule. And if necessary, set aside the entire week leading up to the deadline just to work on it.
Set tighter deadlines. It’s altogether too easy to let yourself off the hook, work extra buffer time into your deadline, and make it too easy on yourself so there’s no need to innovate. Moving up deadlines can force inspired action.
Minimize unrealistic deadlines. Finishing too soon can end up creating a problem, especially for freelancers. Because if you meet one unrealistic deadline, you will often be rewarded with another unrealistic deadline. You can only pull so many all-nighters, so this is unsustainable. Know when to say “uncle.” Too much can be too much.
Experiment and have fun. You can set deadlines just for fun. See how it feels to set deadlines. Notice how it sharpens your thinking and how it has a way of clarifying your purpose and eliminating distractions.
This doesn’t mean there aren’t some difficult days. Disappointments and frustrations can also mount over time, and once we’ve entered a cycle of disappointment and frustration, the only way to get out of it is to interrupt the pattern. Which often means stopping.
What progress are you going to make when you feel disappointment and frustrated? Little to none. At times, you will even feel like you’re going backwards.
Taking a break is not lost income. It’s gained happiness. And that happiness is worth more than any money you could make. It might end up saving your life!
You will also discover that the happier you are doing what you do, the more things seem to flow in your business. A greater income will follow.