The origin of the word “deadline” can be traced back to the 1860’s when it was a line drawn around a Civil War prison that a prisoner crossed with the risk of being shot.  By the mid-1900’s the meaning had changed to be a set time when something had to be completed or accomplished.    

Deadlines are famous for getting things done.  Below is an excerpt from my book, Retention: Key Mindsets That Retain Top Talent, that illustrates the power of goal setting and deadlines.  

In 2005, a friend convinced me to join eHarmony.  One morning soon after that I checked my email and eHarmony said I had a new match. I clicked and it was Jim. (my now husband)  

During our first phone conversation I asked him the often-used interview question, “Where do you want to be in five years?”  He wasn’t sure. It wasn’t that he lived without direction or commitment, he just believed that if he worked hard and stayed true to his beliefs and values then the adventure would play out as it should.  In other words, he was admittedly not a goal setter.  No offense to Jim and those of you like him but that is an approach I do not recommend. 

Goal setting is a powerful tool that should be in every leader’s toolbox and in anyone else’s who wants to accomplish more.  Just think about how much you get done when there is a deadline.

For the last year and a half Jim and I have been talking about writing the book you are reading right now.  Talking was good at first because with each conversation we breathed a little more life into the project.  And then I went and did it, I promised an event planner that if she hired me to give their keynote I would have my book finished and available at her event.  That sealed the deal, I got the job.  Oops!  “Hey honey, I got the gig.  Oh, and I said we would have our book ready.”  

As the delivery date for the book grew ever closer we figured a ghostwriter was the answer because neither Jim or I had ever written a book, and it just looked like too heavy of a lift.  But then we both went and did it, we signed with a publisher and promised we would write the book ourselves and deliver the first draft of the manuscript in four weeks.

The deadline forced our hand. We took the total number of words needed for the book, divided by the total number of days available to write, which gave us a daily word count to produce.  This served as a goal within the larger goal that helped us track our progress.  We got up earlier, stayed up later, entertained ourselves less, all to reach that daily word count. Sometimes we failed to reach our daily goal but that was okay, we just got up and went for it the next day.   

I go on to write that we won’t always have deadlines to help us accomplish all that we want to in life.  But we can create goals which serve as artificial deadlines.  We do this by making them specific, committing to when they will be accomplished, and making them known to select people in our lives.  Then they have the power of deadlines.     

If you would like to pre-order the book, go to (free shipping) Happy goal setting!