Smart Goals 101: You’re Dead Without A Deadline

 Welcome back! This is the final post of our six part series on Smart Goals. If you just joined us, be sure to check out the prior posts (one, two, three, four, & five).

Have you ever heard of Parkinson’s Law? It states that “work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” As a practical example, everyday I shut everything off at 6:00 pm and spend an hour with my daughter before “night-night.”

Right now it’s 5:30 pm…so I have a goal of finishing this post in 30 minutes. I normally take 2-3 hours to write a post. And I guarantee that Parkinson was right – if I had two hours to write this post it would take me two hours.


When you apply this law to goal-setting the application is obvious. If you don’t set a deadline for the completion of your goal you will never complete it.

Urgency is Everything

Having a goal that is Time Bound means that it has a very specific deadline, and if needed, sub-deadlines. A deadline creates urgency. It forces you to stop procrastinating. It creates action – either the action of getting started or the action of changing the deadline because you missed it. Either way you’re working on your goal and that’s better than doing nothing.

Some people refuse to set a deadline on their goals because they don’t know how long it will take them to reach it. Here’s two suggestions I would offer:

1. A wrong deadline is better than no deadline. You have to start somewhere. If you’re stuck in indecision, just pick a deadline and go with it. You can always adjust it as needed.

2. Change your goal so that it has a definite deadline. For example, when our debt hit its peak in August 2009 at $119,000, I had no clue how long it would take us to pay it off. It would have been difficult to set a goal with a specific deadline for being debt free. I could either guess at a deadline (see #1 above), or I could change the goal.

So instead of saying “We will be debt free by _____” our goal was “We will create a budget every month and after tithe and expenses are paid, we will pay 100% of everything left on our debt, starting with the highest interest rate first.” At the beginning of every month I felt the urgency of our goal because we had to take immediate action (sit down and work on our budget together) or we were going to miss our deadline.

Comments & Questions

Setting a deadline is pretty simple stuff, so it doesn’t need a lot of explanation. However, if you’re having any challenges figuring out how to make one of your personal goals a SMART goal, please leave us a comment below. We’d love to help! We respond to 100% of our comments!

Committed to your success,


P.S. Parkinson was right! I finished by 6 with a few minutes to spare. It’s Macey Time!


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