The power of WHEN in accomplishing your goals

Background design of clock hands, gears, lights and abstract design elements on the subject of time sensitive issues, deadlines, scheduling, temporal processes, past, present and future

Why is it that even though I love to have a clean house, that I really go to town scrubbing when I know that I have guests coming over for dinner?

Why can I do a seemingly unpleasant task like filing taxes every April 15?

Why do I rush to the store to use a coupon before a coupon expires?

Why do I finally update my website the night before having an open house at my new incubator space? (!)

Why did I stay up late many nights in a row fueled by Swedish Fish writing my books?

The answer to all these questions is that I had a specific DEADLINE with real CONSEQUENCES attached to the goals.

As much as we have great intentions for getting work done, and as much as our own business prospects have great intentions for working with us, we aren’t used to taking action until we have a specific deadline and consequence for getting it done.

My friend Skip Miller of Selling Advantage talks about this in terms of an Implementation Date (TM) in the sales process — when does your prospect have to have your solution up and running in their business to get their desired results?

When you use this date to evaluate and drive energy in a sales deal, it helps both of you understand when decisions need to be made. This will eliminate a lot of delay on both sides.

Use your WHENS to drive action with customers

Because I have known lots of you a long time, I have come to expect that many of you will wait to the last minute to sign up for a program. This makes perfect sense — you may be evaluating a number of programs to decide what’s the best fit, you may be managing your budget, or you may put off doing things until you have a specific deadline that will drive your actions.

When you develop a clear process and structure with deadlines when selling your programs and services, you help manage your own time, energy and resources, and you also respect the time, energy and resources of your clients.

Get your WHEN together

A couple of years ago, I created a 5 minute video that gives an overview of one of my favorite simple planning tools, the Quarterly Planning Flipchart Tool.

You can use this tool to break your annual goals into feasible tasks by quarter. Once you do the big sort, you really only have to plan the details one quarter at a time (any longer out than that, too many variables can change, and you get too overwhelmed with details).

When you begin to see specific deadlines attached to the sub-goals (“I need to finish my book proposal by February 15!” “I need to get the sales page done by January 31 if I want to start promoting in February!” “If I want to meet with the speaker bureau by March 1, I have to get my speaking reel done by February 15!”), then you have a compelling reason to start working on your goal, and you will be more likely to accomplish it.

So as you look to the goals you have set for 2017, make sure you have your whens covered.

Reader Interactions


  1. Lawrence Fox says

    Externally set deadlines always motivate me. I still remember my late father calling me a “Last minute Louie” ’cause I’d always wait to the last minute to get stuff done (but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten a little better at getting stuff done before the last minute). (And since children our our own parent’s revenge upon us, I have, from time to time, had a similar conversation with my son regarding homework assignments).

    I used to live my life by Douglas Adams’ famous line:

    “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”

    but I’ve decided that the stress-induced state that results is not worth it any more.

    But every once in a while, I still fall back into my old ways–I have a small presentation to do tomorrow at our networking group, and I’m nowhere near ready to do it.

    My spousal overunit, however, views a deadline as a permission slip to not take action until the deadline is upon her. (“Oh, the deadline to submit an application for this job is in two weeks. That means I can not worry about it for 13 days….”).

    I agree that giving myself a “when” after I’ve taken the time to create a goal (or group of goals) is the best way to ensure that I get it done instead of moving an item forward year after year. (An “internal” deasdline) Now all I have to put that into practice this year!

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