For years, I worked against the clock. Inside the television newsroom, deadlines were rarely negotiable. No matter what happened, even when the best laid plans fell apart, the newscast started at the same time each day. Ready or not. As a naive young woman fresh out of college, there was something particularly humbling, and rewarding, about learning to work and perform under such intense pressure. I'd sit down at the computer, keep my eye on the clock and go. In those days, two hours felt like eight. With just thirty seconds until "showtime", I could clip on a microphone and check my reflection one last time.
Time, and how much we feel like we have (or don't have), is relative to the situation.
After years of working at such a fast pace, I was racing towards burn-out. And then, one day, I crashed and walked away. And so for years after leaving the business, I resisted deadlines--equating deadlines with stress. I was on a mission to reclaim my carefree, laid-back self.
But lately, I've come back around. I've realized it's all about-- wait for it-- balance. Yes, that over-hyped "b" word again. When the deadline is based in fear, anxiety rears it's ugly head. But when I put what I'm striving for in proper perspective, the deadline helps me focus and move closer to the things I really want in life.
The concept of deadlines has come up for me as I prepare for the South Carolina Writer's Workshop annual conference in October. I have set some personal goals that I'm hoping to reach before I go, so I can get the most out of the experience. I knew I had to give myself a deadline in order to sit my wandering, Twittering, Facebooking self down and write.
And what if I miss the mark? Well, the world definitely won't end. But for now, I'm acting as if the goal is attainable, and I'm moving forward, a little each day.
So what about you? What's your relationship with deadlines? Love? Hate? A little of both?