Deadlines make us happy! In many magazines, web blogs or advisory sites about working well, I read that deadlines are an effective and efficient way to be productive. They would encourage us and give us energy.
But the thing I see is that we are making ourselves crazy all the time – and that we are fooled – with the idea that ‘getting the most out of life’ is good for you. When we meet, we always say: “Hi, how are you? Yes good, well, busy. Oh that’s good; yes, I am also busy. ” Having your calendar well-organized and in check, your time efficiently managed, means you have a good life. It is a perfectly heard ideal. Yet, that we want to get the most out of our lives is particularly good for employers. That is not ridiculous, because they benefit from effective and efficient employees. But whether it is good for us remains a forgotten question.
In the media they always sell it so nicely:
The big advantage of working with deadlines is that you stay in your momentum, because you constantly work towards the next point and you are under pressure, you can not afford to let your head hang and pace down; perform and pushing through is becoming a necessity instead of a need. (Winst.nl)
Who would not want to stay in his momentum and look forward to the next point on your To-Do list? Letting your head hang down? No, we want to push through because we want to show how motivated we are, to ourselves and to those who are important to us. Preferably under pressure. Yes, yes, who doesn’t want that?
The power of a deadline and the adrenaline rush that goes with it is motivation for them. By setting a deadline yourself, you can get the most out of yourself in a short time. (Intermediair)
A deadline, so we are told, creates momentum, energy and motivation. It is a good carrot-and-stick, or is it just a stick to hit us? Did we trade the whip for a nicer sounding idea? No, no, a deadline just encourages you to make a tight schedule, say the work gurus. That makes your boss’ (sorry: your!) life a lot more pleasant. And so we eagerly take over new ten commandments, in the form of 5 tips, 7 tricks, or 10 do’s & don’ts.
Obligation is called willingness
Let’s try to be honest: a deadline is simply an obligation. An obligation imposed on us by someone else with power. Let’s not make it more beautiful than it is. But of course these days we do not want to experience it like that. Life, and therefore also working, must be fun. We prefer to create an ‘optimistic’ language; instead of the oppressive ‘obligating’ we like to say and hear: ‘motivating yourself’. After all, we see ourselves as autonomous individuals with our own free will. As people who do & don’t because we ourselves wish it so. That works better than realizing that someone else imposes it on us, obligates us. This is how willingness is replaced by obligation, while it goes on under its old name.
And is it really that effective? As long as we continue to believe that we want it ourselves, and as long as we accept it as a matter of fact, we like to put our best foot forward. Driven we show how effective and efficient we are. After all, we are proud to work as if we are the CEO of our own lives. The fact that we at the end of the day drop worn-out on the couch, drinking a wine before bed, eventually getting a burn-out or falling into a depression, is a private problem. And, well, after a weekend of meditation, yoga or happiness festival – payed for by the boss – we can start afresh again. Do not let your head hang down. Stay in your momentum and meet your deadlines energetically!
That we have to do (sorry: want!) every possible thing, follows from the enormous high expectations we have of life. Especially the new generation is maddened by the infinite possibilities that life has to offer, by the idea that you can become anything you want to be, that the chances are up for grabs if you plan your activities well. Why do we want all that?
Because we all need recognition and appreciation. Recognition for our exceptional commitment and performance. The kind of beauty we have made and the special person we are. Nobody wants to be a mediocre cog in an unseen way, in an organization that only pursues its own interests. Personal values, goals and meaning form the compass with which we determine our actions and set our standards.
Values are much more important than the so called motivating carrot-and-stick. Instead of accepting new ten commandments, I prefer to ask myself the most important questions first. Questions like: Why do I really want this? What is really important now? Why do I actually have to meet that deadline? Who really expects what of me? What fair values lei behind it? Are these my values or those of the other? What are the consequences if I do it and what if I do not? And what do I think of that?
In the end it’s more about why we do something and less about what we do; because we have to do it anyway.