Goals are simply dreams with deadlines. The Authors Collection.


David R. Stokes
David R. Stokes

I am running around like the proverbial headless chicken today. I know what Kipling said about “if you can keep your head while all about you are losing theirs,” but it’s easier said than done. Especially when a deadline looms.

We’re all familiar with deadlines. They come from bosses, spouses (redundant?), editors, children (wrong order there, sorry), grandchildren (really wrong order there), and just about anyone who needs it done yesterday.

But my current deadline is one I really don’t mind at all. You see, after I finish this article and attend to a few duties Sunday morning (my pastor thing), I’m going on vacation. It will be special because I’m taking my entire family—daughters, sons in law (required), and seven grandchildren. We are traveling to picturesque Stowe, Vermont. It’s going to be epic—scenery, cider mills, covered bridges, great food, bike and walking trails I hear are great.

So I don’t mind the frenetic stuff today. It’s like a two-minute drill in football. I’m getting stuff done, managing the clock well, no waste, complete focus—it’s really cool.

But a few times today I’ve been struck by the thought, “Imagine how much I could accomplish if I had this kind of focus every day.” Then again, imagine how great your favorite football team would be if they played the whole game the way they seem to when the clock has 86 seconds left on it.

Walk on a roof edgeHuman nature. That’s what we’re talking about here. Procrastination is our default response to required endeavor. We must go against our own grain to overcome it.

Or have a compelling deadline.

When it comes to writing, dreams are great, but goals are better. Goals are dreams with deadlines. Think you can’t write a 400-page novel?  Well, could you write two

pages a day—say, about 500 words, roughly the length of this otherwise forgettable article?

Winston Churchill managed to produce a monumental body of written work. He wrote articles, columns, and books. And his books weren’t thin sissy volumes. They were tomes. As in, 100 pages for the introduction.  I have several shelves in my library filled with books he wrote. The shelves have to be replaced periodically because the books are so big and heavy. They are also very good.

Churchill was a great man. He was a politician, writer, bricklayer, painter, and gourmet. How did he get it all done? Goals. For a man who indulged his appetites with apparent abandon, he was incredibly disciplined. Did you know that we wrote his speeches word for word?  He then practiced them so that they’d appear extemporaneous.

He once told someone that his goal was “200 bricks and 2,000 words a day.” That’s how he built a massive wall at Chartwell, his beloved estate in Kent, while writing a biography of his ancestor Lord Marlborough.

Winston died at the age of 90, but I think much of his life was spent in a perpetual two-minute drill.  There’s a lesson there somewhere.

Please click the book cover to read more about David Stokes and his books on Amazon.



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