Be clear: Is it a goal or a deadline? (Goals have celebrations; deadlines have consequences.)

Musing for:

Be clear: Is it a goal or a deadline?

Goals and deadlines have a lot in common, but it’s easy to get them mixed up.

And when we do, we can set others up for confusion and frustration.

Here’s what they have in common:

✅ They both need a clear definition of “done”
✅ They both need a clear expected finish date.
✅ They can both benefit from following the S. M. A. R. T. format (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-Bound)

But here’s the difference:

👉 A goal is something to strive for. You will usually choose the goals for yourself and your team. If you always hit 100% of your goals, you’re probably not challenging yourself enough. When you don’t reach a goal by the expected finish date, you have an opportunity to learn, but no serious consequences. Reaching a goal by its date is a reason to celebrate, however large or small you want that celebration to be.

👉 A deadline is something that must be met. These are typically set in response to some external condition. When you don’t hit a deadline, there are negative consequences.

Setting too many deadlines can become a source of needless stress.

Celebrating the achievement of challenging goals can make work rewarding and motivating.

Are you setting more goals or deadlines for yourself? For your team?

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