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While deadlines may help motivate you to hand in school essays or work reports on time, they may not be the healthi...
While deadlines may help motivate you to hand in school essays or work reports on time, they may not be the healthiest of tools in terms of personal betterment. Goals, by contrast, have less stressful and more positive associations. Let’s start by examining the two words: One has “dead” in it, as in “get this done or you’re dead,” while the other makes the crowd cheer when a ball or puck hits the back of the net.
Goals are things we want, while deadlines are things we’d better achieve “or else…” It could be argued that this is precisely what makes a deadline more effective than a goal, yet there are ways to make up for a goal’s softness without giving into the absolute “all or nothing” implication of a deadline. We do this by setting small, achievable goals and committing to them.
According to NYU psychology professor Gabriele Oettingen, setting goals and committing to them can provide us with the positive energy we need to realize our dreams. This commitment comes from having optimistic expectations and comparing the present with a more desirable future. By practicing the mental technique of contrasting our fantasies with our present reality, we continually energize ourselves to stay on the path towards our goals.
This can create too much pressure and make it difficult to know where to begin. Having overly ambitious goals is also more likely to result in disappointment. Taking small steps towards long-term goals, on the other hand, can build confidence, contributing to a positive attitude and outcome.