Are they deadlines, or lifelines?

Lately I have been contemplating how I relate to self-imposed deadlines.

It seems to me that the reason to set deadlines is to ensure that I will actually do things that I want to do, rather than waste time and put them off.

But oftentimes when I have a deadline, it ends up becoming harder to focus on the activity at hand, because I get anxious and preoccupied with whether or not I'm going to get it done in time.

I may still finish, but worrying about it takes the fun and joy out of something I was once excited to do and sort of defeats the purpose.

Getting rid of deadlines altogether isn't the solution, because that leads to a lot of meandering and distraction when there really are things I want to do that feel important to me.

So what is the answer?

A friend recently suggested to me that instead of thinking about them as deadlines (connoting fear of death!), I could think about them as lifelines that help me stay tethered to, and acting on, the things that bring me life.

It's a subtle shift in perspective, but I like it. It helps me lean into what I want rather than try to prevent what I'm afraid of.

This weekend I have a deadline to finish doing some deep work around my business, getting very clear about the clients I most want to serve, and how. I'm enjoying thinking about this work as a lifeline, leading me into my next phase of growth.

What about you? Do you have deadlines looming in your life that instill more fear than excitement at the moment? Or something important that you've been resisting attaching a deadline to at all? If so, does the "lifeline" perspective help? What other ways have you found to make deadlines your friend? I’d love to hear your thoughts!