The Importance of Timelines and Tracking in Purpose Pursuit

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The Importance of Timelines and Tracking in Purpose Pursuit


n a previous post, we saw the importance of numbers in the pursuit of purpose. Life is all about numbers. Purpose and vision too are governed by the clarity of numbers that we put in place. I have been sharing with people of late something to this effect:

If I had Ten Thousand Dollars cash and I tasked people to produce for me the plans for investing that cash in a personal venture that they are passionate about complete to the dregs of details…if they could do that in less than a minute, the Ten Thousand Dollars will be theirs… I will still go back home with that cash.

The Importance of Timelines and Tracking

Why is that?[ictt-tweet-inline]People love to recite vision and mission statements but without the numbers and metrics, the vision is impotent.[/ictt-tweet-inline] Without timelines and tracking systems being imposed on our goals, mission and vision, these things are just high sounding but lack the bite of productivity and impact to them.

[ictt-tweet-inline]Timelines and Tracking systems are an absolute must in the pursuit of purpose and projects.[/ictt-tweet-inline] Looking at my historical documents, I have unearthed several ideas that are still good and viable but they are as stale and impotent as anything that has not been thought through. Why is that? Simple. I did not subject these ideas to timelines and tracking systems. That is what we are risking by getting excited about our ideas and not going the extra mile to tag timelines and tracking systems on them.

“Mission Creep”

Soldiers have a phrase they use to refer to situations where they veer off their intended mission. It’s called “Mission Creep”. It’s unplanned and at times ends up committing the “Mission” to longer time and more expenses than earlier anticipated. Believe it or not, there was an interesting character in High School that I attended. I forget his name but the whole school knew him as “Keketo”. When I was a “Mono”, this guy had just done a reverse, from Form 3 back to Form 2. The last time I checked, when I was in Form 3, believe it or not, this guy had gone back to Form 1! He never seemed to have a “Due date” to completion of school. Word has it that his high school education was sponsored and so it was a luxury for him to do ping pong in school. Today, I do not know where he is.

Regardless of what reasons my fellow schoolmates would love to attribute to “Keketo’s” antics, I beg to submit that this man did not have a due date for his graduation from school. The same is happening all over the world with very many visionaries who do not have a due date for their dreams, visions and pursuits. Do you know why people do not set deadlines for their dreams?

4 Reasons Why People Do not Set Timelines and Tracking Systems

  1. It’s scary: Dreaming is cute and rosy. Where the rubber meets the road is when we need to grind it and bring it to fruition. Guess what the first thing we need to do is? Set a due date. Once that is done, we are compelled. The mind is now forced to work extra hard. Now we come face to face with the impossibility of the dream. No brain wants that for you. So it protects you by making sure that you postpone setting a deadline. As long as you are operating in the dream zone, all is well. When you need to switch to grit mode, you can hear the brakes screeching you to a halt.
  2. Fear: In addition to the goal being scary and needing us to work, we do not set deadlines because we are afraid. We are either afraid of failure or we are afraid of the success that we shall face. Why? It simply means that your daily routine will never be the same again. You will need to get off your blessed assurance and make it work. So we get afraid of the unknown future. We get afraid of disappointments that we might face. So we do not set the deadline. We brush it aside over and over and over again.
  3. Illusion of Time: This is the greatest robber of it all. This thought that “tomorrow is there” makes you postpone and procrastinate getting your hands dirty. At the back of your mind, there is this lie that time is on your side and that you will make it. It is a pure lack of urgency
  4. Laziness: Setting deadlines on your goals and pursuits is not something that you do sleep walking. It is laborious in that you need to consider several things. You need to consider intermediate activities and actions plus their due dates too. In other words, a deadline is not just a deadline for deadline sake. It is an informed deadline. Therefore, if you are lazy you will not get it done.

Why We need Timelines and Tracking Systems

Immediately after you have deadlines set, it means that you will have to make a strategic plan of action to fulfilling your pursuit. That is why Dr. Myles Munroe encourages people to have a vision for 50 years or so. It’s not a new concept. I have heard Peter J. Daniels talking about setting a vision for 300 years! Anyway, to me the most important part of a vision is not the strategic plan, nor the deadline, but the tracking system. This week I read from David Bach who writes about personal finances. He is encouraging people that instead of having a budget, they need to automate their financial lives. That makes sense to me. Why? Culture is the thing. Culture is more powerful than a deadline. In other words, if you do something over and over again until it is part of you. That is where tracking comes in.

A tracking system will help show you progress you have made. The following are the main reasons why we need to use Timelines and Tracking in the pursuit of purpose:

1. Creates Urgency

[ictt-tweet-inline]Nothing creates urgency in the pursuit of any goal, dream, vision or purpose like a due date does[/ictt-tweet-inline]. We see it over and over again in life. School children can joke around with life all they want until a certain deadline is given to submit a paper, or to sit for an exam. All of a sudden, an urgency is created. This urgency helps to prioritize life by force. That is what we need. Very many people live their lives with no urgency, no non-negotiables and no priorities at all. However, when a due date is set, all of a sudden, the most important things in life are put in perspective. Deadlines help you decide what is the most important thing you can dwell on or allocate time to. They help you sort out the conundrum between the urgent and the important things.

2. Constrains You:

It makes you operate in the highest form of discipline which is self discipline. This is simply self imposed standards on yourself. If for example your dream is to build a house, there seems nothing urgent or constraining about it, until you say “in 24 months”. All of a sudden, you are constrained in not only how you spend, but how you work. You want more income. You want less expenditure. You are now compelled by something that you are diligently pursuing. This would never be the case if you never had the timeline set.

3. Helps With Time Management

Again, we can try all we want to be productive, but if we are not being constrained by a deadline or an urgency that is created by it, it is easy to waste time. Do you know how many distractions we have daily? If we had due dates, we have an urgency that constrains us to manage our time well. Social media notifications are no longer appealing. All the distractions in life are dealt a major blow when someone has a project with a due date.

4. Births The Project and Realizes the Mission

[ictt-tweet-inline]A due date sets the ball rolling. All of a sudden, you become a person on a mission[/ictt-tweet-inline]. Without the due date, the project can be left pending for a long while. Completion of the project and the mission is subject to a particular deadline that you set. Without this deadline the mission can stay pending. One thing about a mission is that at times it has a shorter life span than the vision or the purpose. Completion of a mission feeds into the overall purpose that you are pursuing. Therefore, this creates momentum. The biggest friend you can ever aspire to have in pursuit of your vision is momentum. Setting a deadline delivers this momentum because it sets it off.

5. Provides Inspiration

You could wait for inspiration to do something all your life. What I have come to realize is that inspiration is something that catches up with a visionary as they are in motion pursuing their dreams. This inspiration comes in different ways. Others get inspired with the progress that they are making. Others are inspired by the ideas that are coming up as they move along. Still others are inspired by the feedback that they get from people. All in all setting a deadline creates the perfect inspiration to get started. As you proceed, the tracking system shows you your efforts, what you have done against what is pending; where you are against where you have come from.

6. Gauges Performance.

Daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly tracking is what massive organizations what their salt use to gauge performance. The thing is that we can do the same for ourselves. In fact, we area already doing some o of these things especially in nutrition and health. Those have set goals to lose weight for example wouldn’t know how they are performing without a tracking system. Those who are seeking to run X number of Kilometers in T time wouldn’t know how they performed without these tracking systems. It is important that every vision and pursuit have a tracking system over time in order for us to re-evaluate our approach whenever we have not hit the target.

Over to you now.