Hello. How are you friends? Welcome back to the show. You’re listening to Episode No. 142 of the Live Free Creative podcast. I’m your host Miranda Anderson, and today’s episode is about self-imposed deadlines.
I am really excited about sharing this episode again. It originally aired as Episode 12 and is one of the episodes that I think a lot of people maybe who haven’t listened to every single episode of the show haven’t hit on. And one that I actually refer to and think about often.
I especially find it super poignant right now after this year that we’ve all had of many of our hopes, dreams, goals, desires, ideas about the future and what we would have, or should have, accomplished going down the drain because of this unexpected pandemic.
It’s a good time to reevaluate who is driving the ship, who is setting these goalposts up. Is it ourselves? Is it someone else? Do we like them? Are they serving us or not?
Before I jump into the episode, I want to share a quick segment. Now this is like a combination segment of Life Lately and Pause for a Poem.
Life Lately + Pause for a Poem
This last week, I took my kids down to Moab, Utah. If you have grown up or lived in Utah, you probably have experienced the magnificence of Moab and nearby Arches National Park. It was the first time I had taken my kids into Arches and it was so wonderful.
I felt like I was walking on air the whole time. It truly is like heaven for me. I feel so at home in the desert and on hikes like that, and the weather was beautiful. We got to see family and enjoy the outdoors in a way that we haven’t for awhile. And one of the afternoons, after leaving the park a little bit early, we decided to duck into a local bookstore.
Ii was actually national independent bookstore day, so we ran into this little bookstore in Moab and there was a section of used books for sale. And I pulled out a book of poetry by Carol Lynn Pearson that was published in 1976, called The Growing Season.
Now, I love Carolyn Pearson. I’ve read a lot of her books of poetry and also her memoirs over the years. And I am just fascinated by her as an incredibly strong dynamic and wise woman. And it was really fun to read through this book of poetry from so long ago and see how so many of her thoughts and ideas resonated with me.
So I decided that I wanted to share one of these poems with you. This is called To The One Who Waited by Carolyn Pearson.
I could have come to you before,
but the fields in me wanted a little greening,
Ineeded just to work on spring a little more.
Well, I did.
April blossomed into May,
And every early bud you glimpsed look each okay.
As I jump in and share the bulk of today’s episode, I want to just remind you that it’s okay to wait. It’s okay if your fields need a little greening. In your own time, everything will blossom.
Here we go. Enjoy this episode on arbitrary self-imposed deadlines.
Okay, friends, let’s talk about arbitrary self imposed deadlines. I’m just going to have to laugh every time I see that phrase, you will not forget it after this episode.
I want to illustrate the idea of these deadlines with the metaphor of a river, You see how it’s all tying in now, right?
Life As A River
I want you to imagine your life is a river. The source of the river is the beginning of your life. You begin learning and growing and winding and changing your landscapes flow from one to another as you meander down through the canyons and through some valleys and just roll along through your life along the way. There are all different sorts of mile markers or flags planted. These are indicators of things that you have done or have achieved or sign posts coming up down the road of things that you’re hoping for and anticipating.
You’re paddling along down your river. You’re flowing along every day is bringing a new adventure. You can’t always choose what happens to you, but you do get to choose how you navigate it and how you respond.
Our River Is Individual
It’s really important to recognize that each of us has our own river. In this metaphor, we are not all boats sharing the same river. We each have our very own river. Our life is different. It’s individual, it’s full and independent of any other river.
What begins to happen as we go throughout our life though, as we look around at these other rivers that are flowing in similar directions to ours and we recognize what mile markers and sign posts other people are reaching, we wonder why we haven’t reached that one yet. We forget sometimes that we are not in the same river on a race, that we each have our own river flowing at our own pace.
I think it’s really easy for us to recognize that our lives are independent and different from people who are unlike us. It can often be difficult, however, to realize that our lives are different and independent of people who SEEM a lot like us.
People who seem like we’re on the same trajectory, people whose rivers flow really similarly to ours and we think, “Gosh, why is it that that person is reaching all of those achievements in their life when I’m not in my life, but we’re on the same path?”
It’s really important to recognize how separate and individual are meandering river is than anyone else’s.
Age As A Milestone
One of the major milestones that we all have in common as a common mile marker is age and a lot of times we look around and we think, why are people my same age reaching things differently than I have.
That starts when we’re really young when we’re babies and toddlers are parents are comparing us to this percentile of all the other kids. This is to mark our development and our achievement to make sure that we’re in the in the realms of normal as it applies to physiology and development.
However, once we get out of a certain point, especially once we’re into adulthood, those things disappear and all of the percentile comparisons are no longer applicable. However, I think that it’s ingrained in us to want to say, “Well, I have reached age 30 and I’m not x, Y, Z, so therefore something is wrong with me or with my development.”
That is simply not the case. Sometimes I see people my same age who seem a lot like me who have everything that I have, plus more and more and other things that I hoped for or that I’ve been working on and that can feel really disappointing until I realized that their river isn’t my river and I start to bring it back, pull it in.
Arbitrary Mile Markers In Life
Sometimes we arbitrarily set down our own markers for ourselves and then we miss them. And then we get frustrated that we missed them.
Other times we don’t even set down a mile marker. We simply become of aware of an achievement that someone else has achieved and we feel bad that we haven’t achieved it already. We jumped to feeling bad about it before we even set it as a goal for ourselves and give ourselves a chance to work on it!!
Does this resonate with you? Do any of you do this as well?
I want to give you some examples of both of these things. Here’s some mile markers you may arbitrarily set down for yourself:
I want to write a book this year.
I want to lose 10 pounds in the next three months.
I want to be married by the time I’m 30.
I want to have a baby within six months of discontinuing my birth control.
I would like to have a six figure business in 2019.
Goals vs Self-Imposed Deadlines
On the surface, these things look like goals.
I firmly, firmly believe in goals. What I firmly disagree with is the emotional exercise of beating ourselves up for not quite making it.
It’s okay to change and it’s okay to let things flow a little bit.
Goals can be motivating, focused and positive. Arbitrary self imposed deadlines are disheartening, random and breed negativity in our lives.
That’s how you can tell if you’re working on a goal or if you are stressing about an arbitrary self-imposed deadline.
Here are some other things that might resonate with you. These are the mile markers that we feel bad about missing before we even plant them in our river:
I should have already graduated from college.
I should already own a home at this point in my life.
I should have already paid off my college debt.
I should be reading a book every month.
I should have already started that etsy shop that I thought of last year.
I should have already recorded this week’s podcast episode.
Raise your hand if this resonates with you.
Telling ourselves what we “should have done” is like creating a race for ourselves and then not allowing ourselves to win. We get to choose the rules, we’re in charge and we still don’t let ourselves win!
We make ourselves lose, that’s not very smart.
This whole idea of feeling bad about things that we think we should have achieved is like trying to feel bad about a mile marker that we put up river against the direction that we’re flowing and then feel bad that we missed it. It wasn’t there when we passed that point of the river and that’s okay.
What Are YOUR Arbitrary Self-Imposed Deadlines?
I want you to think right now about some things in your life that feel like arbitrary self-imposed deadlines.
These are not actual deadlines set by other people or in your work. These are hypothetical deadlines that you are killing yourself to meet or beating yourself up about for not already having met.
Can you think of some?
Think of some of the negative emotions that are causing you stress right now in your life. You might find some arbitrary self imposed deadlines right around those pain points.
Recognize and Overcome Self-Imposed Deadlines
I want to offer two ways that you can recognize these negative emotions it brought about by arbitrary self-imposed deadlines and then my favorite way to overcome them.
When you start recognizing negative emotions or stress or overwhelm those feelings like, oh my gosh, I am not doing all the things that I think I should do.
1. Recognize the Self-Imposed Deadline With These Questions:
Who is requiring this of me?
If the answer to that question is yourself and you’re feeling all of that negativity surrounding it, you probably should back up a little bit and give yourself some grace and maybe make some adjustments.
Is this what I want?
Is this what I need?
What will happen if I adjust this deadline?
If it’s an arbitrary self-imposed deadline that you’re feeling bad about and you answer that question, you will most often find that the answer is nothing.
“Nothing will happen if I back up the deadline that I created for myself that I keep stressing about.”
Isn’t that silly that we do that, but we do. I do this all the time.
I expect a lot of myself, partly because I’m super high energy and I am doing things all the time and so my natural pace is to always be five steps ahead of myself. Recognizing the idea of self-imposed deadlines has been so helpful for me and I still am working on it.
It can be so disheartening to feel like you’re always behind and it helps me so much to ask myself this next question:
What will happen if I just give myself a break on this one?
When I allow myself to flow downstream at the pace of my own river, things happen a lot more easily and with a lot more positivity. Things start to fall into place when I allow space and time for that to happen, rather than always trying to muscle through it all.
If you’re able to answer those questions and recognize that you are in some negative emotion caused by arbitrary self imposed deadlines then I want you to move on to number two.
2. Find Beauty In The Present Moment With These Questions:
Be still, close your eyes, and recognize the beauty in your present moment.
When I feel stressed out or overwhelmed or jealous or defeated by the deadlines that I have created for myself, I’m living in my head. I’m not living in my life.
I need to take inventory of my real present daily life and I will see how incredibly beautiful it is. Like I mentioned in episode nine about having enough money. I want you to ask yourself this question.
What do I have in my life right now that I used to want?
What things in my life am I blissfully grateful for?
What things make me incredibly happy?
This is my river. It’s my ride, the scenery, the current, even the rapids, all of that is part of my river and if I can relax and enjoy the passive movement from one day to the next, I can recognize that regardless of anything that I do, I can only move downstream.
I can rest and still reach the milestones that I want to reach. I just have to sometimes give myself a little bit more time, a little bit of a chance to catch up with myself and a little bit of grace to be able to relax.
Sometimes I still feel the stress and overwhelm of my arbitrary self imposed deadlines and expectations, these high, high expectations, but I’m also able to accept and overcome them more easily. When I prepare myself to stay focused on the work that I’m doing at the pace that I’m doing it.
Do You Love What You Are Doing?
A lot of times I can look around my life and say, “I love the things that I’m doing.”
I love the things that I’m doing. It’s okay if I don’t finish them tomorrow because I love the things that I’m doing.
So the process then is also part of the journey. When you actually achieve the goal or meet the mile marker, guess what happens? You continue moving down the river!
You set new goals, you set new mile markers, you set new expectations for yourself. So if the end of this experience isn’t the end of my river, maybe it’s okay. If it takes me a little bit longer to get to the end of it, maybe that’s okay. Maybe that’s even better. Maybe I get to enjoy it more if I enjoy it more slowly and longer.
Since visualizing this idea of self-imposed deadlines versus goals, I’ve helped myself ease out of so many stressful situations when I’m able to just bring it back home and recognize that this is my life, this is my river. It’s going to be different than anyone else’s and not only is that okay, that’s incredible. What happens for me in my life is all my own. It’s so beautiful.
I get to choose the pace I get to navigate the water. I get to decide on the flags that I want those mile markers that I want and I get to move them as I wish or delete them all together.
Sometimes most powerful thing you can do is recognize an arbitrary self-imposed deadline and realize that you don’t even need it. Not only are you not meeting that deadline in the timeframe that you had planned, you don’t even need to meet it because it’s not something that you choose to have as part of your life.
Does this resonate with you?
What types of arbitrary deadlines have you been holding yourself to and then feeling bad about? Can you invite yourself to be flexible? Move that sign post just a little bit down the river and allow yourself to more fully enjoy the ride.
Can you allow yourself to enjoy the ride? What else is there really? It’s very easy to look around and see everyone else going faster a little bit ahead, or even just examining ourselves versus where we thought we would be or what we thought we should be.
Especially after this year where I know at least for me in my professional life, so many of my goals and things that I had been sort of working on and putting one foot in front of the other and stacking up the blocks for many years, stalled out. And some of them even feel like they sort of crashed to the ground for a while.
And I’m still figuring out how I’m going to put back some of the pieces and in some ways that can be helpful. In fact, I really believe in the power of pause to invite perspective and presence into our lives. It only works that way if we’re willing to see it through that lens though.
Speaking of perspective and pause, I want to just quickly mention that I was invited to speak as part of an online free conference called I Am Mom Summit. And I’m going to put the registration link in the show notes for today’s episode.
The conference itself is being held in a week on May 5th and 6th. And if you aren’t able to attend any of the sessions live on the days that they air, it will be available for anyone for 14 days after the event.
It’s totally free. You just register and they’ll send you a reminder and then you can log on and watch. There are about two dozen speakers. The sessions range from 10 minutes to about 30 minutes. And I am speaking about the Power of Pause, three ways that pausing in your life, stopping taking a break and creating space can actually benefit you and help you see things a little bit more clearly.
I think that the idea of that topic in that session goes really well with this episode today, because sometimes we may have to pull over on our river journey for awhile.
In fact, that pausing and stopping can help us gather the tools and supplies necessary to continue our journey better prepared for the future. Or maybe we pause and determine that the direction that we’ve been heading is not in fact the direction that we want to go.
Do you ever feel like you’re racing and you look back and say, how did I get here? This isn’t even where I wanted to be. I’m not headed in the direction that I was hoping to go.
Sometimes with my coaching clients, actually, most of the time with my one-on-one coaching clients, I invite them in the very beginning of our sessions to consider what is it that they want their everyday life to look like.
Now I purposely don’t ask, what is the big goal that you’re working on right now? Or what are you trying to achieve in the next six months? I ask, what do you want your everyday life to look like? How do you want to feel, what approach do you want to take? How do you wake up? How do you spend your time? How do you interact with your family? What does that daily life look and feel like?
The answer to that question, I think, gives us a really clear perspective on some of our own personal desires and what feels fulfilling in our individual lives. Being able to answer that question helps us then align those goals that we set for the future, with the daily steps that we walk with, the actual process of living and learning, which is all that we have.
Thank you so much for tuning in and listening to an Encore episode of the show. I think that the topic discussed is really appropriate for right now. And I hope that you’ll take a little bit of time this week to reflect on it and reflect on where you are now and where you’re headed, and if it’s okay for you to slow your roll and actually enjoy the ride.
A couple of fun things happening right now:
I’ve talked about a little bit on the show, but I want you to be aware that there are just a handful of spots for Summer Camp available.
Oh my goodness, I was up at Maple Grove last week and I just could not contain my excitement over this event. It is going to be so awesome. 30 women from all over the country gathering together to learn, to create, to connect.
We’re going to eat amazing food. We’re going to spend time outside in the sun and craft together and have some amazing book discussions and life discussions. There are about six spots left. Camping spots. So if you’re nearby, you can bring your own camping gear or borrow from a friend if you need to. There are also local companies right there in Salt Lake. If you want to fly in, there’s companies that can rent you a tent and a cot and a sleeping bag to set up in these camping spots.
I think there are two glamping beds left and just a handful of camping spots. And I would encourage you to come by yourself and meet some friends or grab a friend and join us.
The other event that is starting to fill up is fall Live Free Creative Camp that is in Waitsfield, Vermont in October. It’s going to be the peak of the leaf season. These events blow people’s mind. You really come away transformed inside and out. It’s a really phenomenal event.
And if you have something that’s been sort of nagging at the back of your head, like a thing that you kind of want to work on, whether an idea or a project or something that you’re writing for public consumption or whether a personal project may be catching up on some family journals or deep diving into an area of your personal development that you really just could use some space to focus on.
Of course, as always. I welcome your written reviews on iTunes. It means a whole lot to me. I also really appreciate that I’ve gotten a lot of emails and direct messages lately, sharing your gratitude for the podcast and it just warms my heart.
I’m so very grateful. If you have sent one of those, feel free to copy and paste it and put it in a review.
Also make sure that you’re sharing the show with your friends and family. I would love for as many people as possible to be inspired, to live a creative, adventurous, and intentional lifestyle.
I’ll talk with you next week. Have a good one. Bye.