Deadlines Are Meaningless in the Achievement of Goals

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When it comes to goals, setting a deadline is meaningless.

Missing deadlines is why so many get frustrated with the goal-setting process and give up on their goals.

There is no magic when it comes to goals. Setting a deadline does not marshal unseen forces in the universe to mount their horses and come to your aid to help you achieve your goal.

Deadlines on their own, do not make a goal more achievable. Rather, they set you up to fail. When the deadline comes and goes, without realizing the goal, you become disappointed and quit. Worse, you might lose faith in setting any future goals at all.

“Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal or ideal.” —Earl Nightingale

Nightingale hit the nail on the head with respect to goals.

The progressive realization of a goal means you must create a process for achieving your goals.

What’s a process?

A process is something that establishes daily activities, which make it possible to achieve your goal.


Let’s say it’s January 1 and you set the goal of losing 20 pounds by April 1. If all you do is set a deadline, you’ll never achieve your goal. Instead, create a process as follows:

  1. Eat 400 fewer calories every day and
  2. Exercise aerobically 20 minutes every day

With this process, you have a good chance of achieving your goal of losing 20 pounds in three months.

  • Four hundred fewer calories a day = 12,000 fewer calories. Since one pound = 3,000 calories, that’s 4 fewer pounds a month.
  • Jogging 20 minutes a day consumes about 300 calories a day. That = 9,000 fewer calories. Since one pound = 3,000 calories, that’s 3 fewer pounds a month.
  • 7 fewer pounds per month X 3 months = 21 fewer pounds.

You can apply this process to any goal. The key is to break your goal down into daily goals, or daily activities.

Here’s the Goal Achievement Process:

  1. Set a Goal
  2. Set a Realistic Timetable for Achieving That Goal
  3. Reverse Engineer: Establish Daily Goals That Allow You to Meet That Realistic Timetable
  4. Monitor and Measure Your Daily Goals
  5. Revise Timeline Based on Results or Revise Process Based on Results

If the daily activities are achievable, the overall goal becomes achievable. If not, then you need to change your deadline and the process.

For example, if you believe it will take you a month to build up your endurance levels in order to get to 20 minutes a day, then you change your deadline from April 1st to May 1st. You then change your process. That first month would include less jogging, which = fewer calories lost.

The deadline, you see, doesn’t matter. Only the process matters.

Tom Corley is an accountant, financial planner and author of “Rich Kids: How to Raise Our Children to Be Happy and Successful in Life”, Effort-Less Wealth, Change Your Habits Change Your Life, Rich Habits Poor Habits and “Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals.”