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About Time: Can an ambitious deadline drive more progress?


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Our regular productivity column by Abigail Barnes helping you manage your time without burning out.

ambitious deadline graphic of woman working towards a goal with time slipping by.

Ambition, like money can sometimes feel like a dirty word. Society has allowed us (particularly women) to believe that when you are ambitious, people may think you’ve got ideas above your station, that you are greedy, cut throat, arrogant or worse – delusional.

We can start to doubt our ambitions and whether we have what it takes. Running through your mind: Who do you think you are to do… But the people making you think this are not talking to you. It has taken me years to learn this lesson.

When they say you can’t, they mean they can’t.
When they say you shouldn’t, they mean they wouldn’t.
If they ask who do you think you are, they mean who do they think they are!
The judgement, doubt and negativity they are sharing with you isn’t about you but themselves. You were the trigger that opened up their insecurities.

The negative side of ambition

While being ambitious is a positive thing, there can be downsides. In this piece by Jude King on Medium, he talks about the vast number of ideas and goals that highly ambitious people try to juggle. "It is a peculiar problem of really ambitious people and has the same crippling effect on progress as low motivation. Too much motivation manifests as excessive enthusiasm which leads to starting many projects that you’ll never finish..."

In fact, some of the main reasons people don't achieve their goals include:

  1. Too many goals.
  2. Not making SMART goals.
  3. Not having a plan for how to achieve them.
  4. No accountability to stay on track.
  5. No clear reason why/vision/motivation.

This is where achieving ambitious goals can be helped by setting ambitious deadlines. First, we need to look at whether we are approaching our goals in the correct way.

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