Thursday, 18 October 2012

A Life Without Deadlines

Deadlines serve a pretty important function: Some times, things need to be done by a certain time. But there is a dark side to deadlines, and that is self-coercion.

We all know that deadlines can be pressuring, stressful, boring, and even upsetting, but what all these problems come down to is that you are forcing yourself to do something. And not only is self-coercion unpleasant in the short term, but it's bad for you in the long run. There are two reasons for this. 

Firstly, if you don't want to do something, you might be right not to. You're rejection of doing something indicates you have a criticism of it, and you'll probably agree with the criticism if you understood it, after all, it's *your* criticism. But the self-coercer speaks to themselves in just the same way a coercive person speaks to their victim. 'You're just being lazy,' 'you're just being stupid', 'you're just weak'--anything but actually taking their wishes seriously. So the criticism gets pushed down and repressed. And it's not good to ignore a problem, because doing so also ignores the solutions that will help you!

The second reason is self-coercion breeds doubtle-think. You might want to meet the deadline in some regards--you want the promotion, you want the degree, you want the hot body by bikini season--but you also have problems with it that mean you don't want to do it. You're left with double-think. Worse still, your double-think can breed if you live a life of self-coercion. 

Maybe you want to meet this deadline because you want the promotion, but maybe you only want the promotion because of another instance of double-think. For example, say, you want a job that pays well to prove you're a worthy person, but you had also wanted to be a circus clown because it's nice to entertain people. 

Deadlines are one of the ways, along with all other kinds of self-coercion, to keep yourself tied up in knots, confused and distressed about the things you think you want, if you want them at all. 


Life without deadlines isn't really about throwing out egg timers and never satisfying a client. You can still do things by a certain time. The trick is, to do it by a certain time just because you want to. No coercion. No pain. And to get to that state, you need to do the opposite of what was said above. You need to do things you don't have criticisms of. And you need to get rid of double-think. Both of these things really come down to the same thing: you need to do what's fun for you. 

It's contrary to all the advice out there. People like to say about deadlines 'ah, well it's just life.' They advocate force as a means of being productive. But it's not really true. Ultimately, the most productive person is one who loves what they're doing. Such a person gets a thing done *before* the deadline. So however contrary it is to common advice, it's not exactly unintuitive. We know it works. The question is are you willing to do what you want, to get what you want?

No comments:

Post a Comment