A Deadline Should be Like a Birthday

50th Birthday Cake

This week I’m 50 (well not 50 as much as 8 with 42 years experience, most of it forgotten). Which started me thinking about how we should treat deadlines like birthdays.

No, not having only one per year, but having planned one being determined to make it happen.

One year my son wanted to have his birthday party at one of those laser shoot-em-up venues, where he and his friends could run around like loonies shooting at each other with rifles that tagged each other with lasers. The nearest venue was about twenty miles away, but that wasn’t a problem as we had transport. So the party was booked and invitations were sent out. Every invite was answered in the positive. Everyone wanted to come and were looking forward to it enormously.

Three days before the party our car gave out a loud grinding noise and suddenly there was no power to the wheels. After getting it to a garage it was confirmed the car needed a new gearbox, which was going to take about three days to source and fit. Never mind, plan B was to use a friend’s car to get to the party.

The next day the friend picked my son up from school and brought him home. After a quick chat to confirm the arrangements for using her car she left. Within minutes she was at the front door with a sheepish grin. Her car wouldn’t start. An hour later the mechanic from the breakdown service announced that the fuel pump was broken.

So then we were on to plan C! We hired a car for the weekend, got there on the day and the party was a success.

So what can we learn from this? To avoid certain makes of car? Maybe. Or that sometimes you’ll pull out as many stops as necessary to make something happen. The fact is having decided to have the party and invited people to it there was no way it wasn’t happening.

Notice that our determination was increased because people were expecting the party to take place. Announcing something to people who’s opinion matters to you is a powerful motivator.

So perhaps we should approach business deadlines like birthdays. Not so much because we should celebrate when they’ve been reached successfully, but because once they are set they should be kept to no matter what.

However, you also need to remember to be kind to yourself. Don’t overload yourself with deadlines. In the past I have set 3 targets per week or just one. It’s important to consider what you can achieve in a week. That’s why you should record how long it takes to complete tasks. If you do them again you’ll have a better estimate of the time required to complete them and a better idea of what you can achieve in a week.

10 responses to “A Deadline Should be Like a Birthday”

  1. Happy birthday David.
    50 is the new 40 they say ๐Ÿ™‚ Sounds like you had a birthday to remember.
    Like you comment about realistic deadlines. It is hard to predict how long things are going to take so recording how long things take is a good idea.


    • Hello Roger,

      Thanks for the birthday wishes.

      I’ve found a more realistic approach to what you can achieve can stop tasks building up and leading to a sense of being overwhelmed. Having an idea of how long tasks usually take can really help with this. Once you’ve worked out how much you can achieve in a week the next logical step is to outsource. And that’s a whole new set of challenges!

      All the best


    • Thanks Omar,
      There are some interesting articles on your blog and you’re much more prolific than me! Think I’ll be visiting quite often.


  2. Hi David
    I wish you a very Happy Birthday hope you enjoyed your special day ๐Ÿ™‚
    Sometimes it can be hard to meet a deadline and we never know what will happen in the meantime, like your example of the car problems you had. One thing I do to make sure I get my blog posts out on time every week is to write a few in one go and schedule them in to be published on the day of choice, if something happens to prevent you writing or getting online then you will not miss that deadline.
    Hope you have a great weekend.

    • Thanks for the birthday wishes Pauline.

      I agree it’s a good idea to have some posts written in advance. However I seem to have a problem getting out in front of my schedule. When I have the time to write a couple of posts coming up with one post seems to take twice as long!

      All the best


  3. happy birthday to you David. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Thanks for sharing about birthday deadlines.
    It made me think about how true it is that we
    will do whatever it takes to make our birthday work out
    as planned but never put in the same effort when it
    comes to succeeding with our online business.
    Great new mindset to approach our business. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hi Muhsin,

      It occurred to me that an even better mindset might be to regard a deadline as a wedding anniversary. Imagine the consequences of missing one of those!

  4. Hi David,

    Happy Birthday to you! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I found your blog post captivating, not knowing how it is going to end, and this made it so interesting to read. To me this defines a great story-teller.

    But most of all, the conclusions are quite unexpected, and therefore even more powerful. It made me think – really, when we keep a goal to ourselves, we compromise with deadlines all the time. And with goals too as it happens. On the other hand, a declaration of what we are about to do, and the end result we are aiming for – especially if it involves other people – makes us responsible to those people.

    I have read somewhere that most of all people don’t like to be ridiculed and laughed at, and that respect from others is on the top list of almost everyone. This also has a cautionary lesson – never promise what we cannot deliver. I have read that in Japan embarrassment and shame is the worst of the worst emotions that can be experience. Well, I would say that it involves not just Japan, but the human race in general.

    For this reason, we should only aim to promise what we can deliver. Once a promise has been given, or a declaration made, excuses should be the last thing on our mind.

    This is a very powerful lesson David, thank you for sharing!

    Best wishes,


    • Hi Galina,

      Good point about the power of embarrassment and shame. Pride may come before a fall, but I think it can serve as a great driver too.


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