A Deadline is a Lifeline

Read at your own risk as I get philosophical when I take a weekend off to relax, contemplate and observe how people go from day to day.

A deadline is just one small but important step in a life's accomplishment

The question if the glass is half full or half empty is rhetorical at best as it usually involves one’s personal opinion on a problem or situation. So is a deadline. As I grow older I confront myself more often with the question:”Am I becoming the kind of person I wanted to be?” And even that turns out to be rhetorical.

I think it’s part of my perennial philosophy of living by the compass rather than the time piece. It’s part of painting life in broad strokes and colors of mutual agreement and acceptance (nature’s laws), versus how to fill in the details (human laws).

Considering our present day circumstances, I realize that we probably hit a snag right out of the gate, considering how divergent the world really is. People simply don’t agree on some matters, until confronted with the superior laws of nature.

Perennialists agree that enlightened people everywhere consent on certain core principles and these are handed down from generation to generation, through the ages, and across nations and cultures. They agree that compassion is a major part of successful living but they also agree that problems are life’s way of getting the best out of us. They are opportunities to grow. If we neglect the opportunity, we chance desperation without realizing that the sum of all of our experiences makes up our life.

In the West, we tend to think we’re living a morally good life if we are not doing anything to hurt anyone else. But perennialists are also concerned with what are we doing or not doing to alleviate the suffering of others.
There is a huge discrepancy between the Longterm Compass of Life and the Short term Watch of Everyday Life. One is based on a long term direction while the clock only functions as a deadline to pursue and accomplish certain steps. The Compass needs periodical reviews of the building of habits (weekly monthly, annually); the Watch needs deadlines.

Based on that philosophy I have come to see deadlines as lifelines.

They are the ultimate funnels that keep us on the track that was set out by our life’s Compass that fills in the broad brush strokes of education, family, philosophy, prosperity, health.

But I have also learned over the years that:

1.    Most people don’t like deadlines. They require a decision and a decision means risk. Deadlines force us to decide and/or act.

2.    Deadlines work. Products that are about to disappear, auctions that are about to end, tickets that are about to sell out–they create forward motion.

3.    Deadlines make people do dumb things. Every time people miss a deadline, they’ll use ornate, well-considered and thoughtful arguments as to why they missed the deadline. Never mind that they had two weeks or longer to comply or act… the last fifteen minutes are all they are concerned with. If it’s important enough to spend an hour complaining about, it’s certainly important enough to spend four minutes to just do it in the first place.

4.    Deadlines give you the opportunity to beat the rush and be ahead of the competition. Handing in work or an assignment just a little bit early is a sure-fire way to tell a positive story and get the attention you seek.

5.    When we set ourselves a deadline, we’re often lax about sticking to it. If you tend to do that, try associating it with an external reward or punishment. If you don’t make the deadline, your friend who borrowed $20 from you, can give it to a cause you disagree with…

6. Deadlines set by external parties have a much higher impact, that deadlines set by yourself.
If you accept deadlines for what they really are, a chance to stay on top of your life, they become lifelines that keep you on track of your long term goals and objectives.

Most of all deadlines will force you to focus on a life full of positive opportunities rather than allow you to accept short term up and downs you can’t control.


  1. tommylee

    Deadlines originate from the American Civil War which was not to cross the line drawn in the sand as a prisoner of war. Deadlines in the original sense of the word was based on action or inaction that determined the outcome. In today's philosophy we tend to think that a deadline is based on the expiration of time rather then following the “guidance of action” or compass.

    This is where bastardization has distorted the meaning of life rather then looking on the infliction of passiveness. I for one love what I do because it is a challenge of creation that hopefully will make a difference in somebody's life. That is the drive that makes me happy in pursuit some form of fulfillment. Weekends (again a time measure self inflicted by men) are no exception.

    Am I a workaholic? Probably in most people's eyes, yet a deadline for me is not the time line of meeting an inevitable but rather a guideline of abouts whereas the importance of one deadline weights heavier than another and the term “accomplishment” is superseeding the pressure of time.

    This is my reasoning to keep some sanity in the “merry-go-round” we tend to call “life”. If not, my love for what I do will die and with it my sense of direction.

  2. publisher_sa

    The Sense of Direction is the conscious or unconscious compass. For those in constant touch with their conscious compass, life is a blast. For those who are not, remember the words from Stairway to Heaven: “There's still time to change the road you're on”.
    I tested an Hourglass this weekend on its accuracy and saw myself in the reflection. The only sanity is to do what you love.

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