How To Reach Your Goal Faster, Guaranteed!

I came across an interesting idea recently about something called Parkinson’s Law that I have long suspected was true, I just hadn’t heard anyone articulate it as a “law”. Parkinson’s Law goes something like this:

    Whatever project you’re working on or whatever goal you’re looking to achieve, it will end up taking all the time you allow it In other words, “work expands to fill the time available for its completion.”

This concept was explained in great detail in a book published in 1957 called, “Parkinson’s Law: The Pursuit of Progress.” Like a lot of profound ideas, it’s easy to see and understand.

Going On Vacation

The first example that comes to mind is the day before you go on vacation. Whatever is on our plate at work that HAS to get done, gets done. Same for pre-trip preparations; we become achievement machines when necessary to make sure the bags are packed and we’re walking out the door at the appointed time.

The key thing to take away from this idea related to your goals is this:

    When you decide on a goal, set a deadline when you will reach it.

Most tasks will take as long as we allow them, so why not pick a reasonable amount of time for our goals, set a deadline there and hold ourselves to it? It’s oddly magical how having a single, specific objective, and a date and time when it must be completed, drives our behavior to find ways to make sure we meet the deadline. Of course, we have to stay aware of the deadline or this doesn’t work. But if we know when it has to be done and want to make that happen, we almost always find a way.

The Scarce Resource – Time

Another important concept to remember is that we each have scarce or limited resources, and time is the most scarce. We can regain lost money, friends or patience, but we can never regain lost time. It’s easy to get lulled into a sense of false confidence, especially when we are young and don’t yet realize how quickly time passes, but eventually most of us finally “get it” and treat time as the precious and valued commodity that it is.
Back to Parkinson’s Law:

    “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.”

So what this means is if we decide we should give ourselves a year to lose 15 lbs of body fat and gain 5 lbs of muscle, it’ll probably take that long to make it happen. However, if we give ourselves 2 months to accomplish the same objective, that will probably happen too. Remember: We are the ones who sacrifice most when we allow longer than necessary to achieve our goals.

The Longer It Takes, The Less Likely It Is To Get Done

Here’s another important point that holds true for most of us: “The more time we allow to complete a goal, the more likely it is that we will never achieve it.” Losing the sense of urgency to get something done, allowing it to languish over an extended period of time makes it much more likely that it will never get done. But if you set it to a shorter, more aggressive deadline you’ll be more likely – much more likely – to do the work and achieve it than if you had allowed yourself much longer to do it. For most of us, there are simply too many things competing for our attention. That makes it all the more difficult for a long term, drawn out plan to ever get across the finish line.

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