January 10, 2022

How could you put a ring on it?


Are deadlines a vital way for you to get projects done?

Or do they just add extra stress to your creative process?

It likely depends on your personality and work style. Because certain people don’t need to deliberately wait for the pressure of a deadline to sharpen their thinking.

External accountability and expectation aren’t motivators for them. They provide their own internal fire. And they almost always finish their work way ahead of schedule.

Other creative people feel it’s a great discipline never to be too far away from a deadline. More in the procrastination camp, they enjoy the adrenaline rush that comes with a looming date on the calendar. It not only helps them complete things, but also helps them judge them.

Fair enough.

Now, somewhere in the middle, there’s a balance. Because both approaches have merit. Anytime you’re bringing ideas to form, it’s critical to have just enough pressure to keep your story moving forward, but not so much stress that you strangle yourself into an unhealthy work binge.

It reminds me of something my therapist once told me:

You’re not really engaged if you don’t set a date for the wedding. There’s certainly no rush, and the couple doesn’t have to send out their save the date cards four days after popping the question. But if you and your sweetheart have been engaged for five years, then you might be living in denial.

Without putting your milestone on the calendar, making it public to the world, you merely have beautiful and expensive ring that serves as a placeholder for commitment, not a promise for marriage.

Interestingly, the word deadline has quite morbid origins. Back in the civil war, deadlines were the lines within or around a jail that prisoners would be shot for crossing. This poem from a wartime newspaper describes this phenomenon as follows:

No shelter know the sufferers, bolder ones, daring to seek it, scorched by the suns, drop on the deadline beneath the warders’ guns.

Wow, no wonder people are so afraid of deadlines.

In my experience, even as a person who isn’t interested in or motivated by deadlines, eventually, you still have to draw a line in the sand. Whether it’s the final draft of a press release, the go live date of your website, or dropping your next album, commitment is the only constraint that will set you free.

Beyonce famously sang that if you like it, you shoulda put a ring on it. But when it comes to following through on your dreams, creative, relationship or otherwise, to like it isn’t enough.

Everybody likes things. There’s still one step missing. If you’re really committed to going all in, then not only should you put a ring on it, but you also should pick a date for the wedding too.

Otherwise you’re just living in denial, stalling until something better comes walking through the door.

What lies are your excuses guarding?