Goal-Setting Deadlines Are a Recipe For Failure

When it comes to goals, setting a deadline is meaningless. 

There is no magic when it comes to goals.

Setting a deadline does not marshal unseen forces in the universe to mount their horses and come to your aid to help you achieve your goal.

Deadlines on their own, do not make a goal more achievable.

Rather, they set you up to fail. Frustrated Businessman Sitting On A Bench

When the deadline comes and goes, without realizing the goal, you become disappointed and quit.

Worse, you might lose faith in setting any future goals at all.

Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal or ideal.” — Earl Nightingale

Nightingale hit the nail on the head with respect to goals.

The progressive realization of a goal means you must create a process for achieving your goals.

What’s a process?

A process is something that establishes daily activities, which make it possible to achieve your goal. 


Let’s say it’s January 1 and you set the goal of losing 20 pounds by April 1.

If all you do is set a deadline, you’ll never achieve your goal.

Instead, create a process as follows:

  1. Eat 400 fewer calories every day and
  2. Exercise aerobically 20 minutes every day

With this process, you have a good chance of achieving your goal of losing 20 pounds in three months.

  • Four hundred fewer calories a day = 12,000 fewer calories. Since one pound = 3,000 calories, that’s 4 fewer pounds a month.
  • Jogging 20 minutes a day consumes about 300 calories a day. That = 9,000 fewer calories. Since one pound = 3,000 calories, that’s 3 fewer pounds a month.
  • 7 fewer pounds per month X 3 months = 21 fewer pounds.

You can apply this process to any goal.

The key is to break your goal down into daily goals, or daily activities.

Here’s the Goal Achievement Process: 

  1. Set a Goal Put Your Plan Into Action, Words On Blackboard
  2. Set a Realistic Timetable for Achieving That Goal
  3. Reverse Engineer: Establish Daily Goals That Allow You to Meet That Realistic Timetable
  4. Monitor and Measure Your Daily Goals
  5. Revise Timeline Based on Results or Revise Process Based on Results

If the daily activities are achievable, the overall goal becomes achievable.

If not, then you need to change your deadline and the process.

For example, if you believe it will take you a month to build up your endurance levels in order to get to 20 minutes a day, then you change your deadline from April 1st to May 1st.

You then change your process.

That first month would include less jogging, which = fewer calories lost.

The deadline, you see, doesn’t matter.

Only the process matters.


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Tom Corley


Tom is a CPA, CFP and heads one of the top financial firms in New Jersey. For 5 years, Tom observed and documented the daily activities of wealthy people and people living in poverty and his research he identified over 200 daily activities that separated the “haves” from the “have nots” which culminated in his #1 bestselling book, Rich Habits – The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals. Visit the website: www.richhabits.net

'Goal-Setting Deadlines Are a Recipe For Failure' have 1 comment


    May 25, 2018 Peter Fritz

    Tom, I couldn’t agree more with this approach. Earl’s famous quote has rung true for me since I first heard it three decades ago. Along the way, though, I’d forgotten the wisdom of those words. I rediscovered them only recently, and it has changed the way I approach my work and has dramatically reduced the anxiety that comes with being an ambitious big thinker. Great article.


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