I was reminded of a countdown clock as midnight approached on New Year’s Eve. As often as I watch sports, I sometimes forget that the clock which counts down to zero as the game continues. Does this create urgency amongst the players to perform? I do not know, but the winners do! Perhaps, we need a countdown clock for every day of our lives to motivate us!
Race to the finish!
All sports contests have a specific time for the game. You could probably find an exception such as a baseball game that goes on for hours into extra innings, but there is a beginning and end to all games. It really is no different from life! The difference is we do not know when our life will end. Perhaps, this creates some urgency for some of us. I created my ‘”ending” by setting a goal of financial independence by forty (40) years old. It was not my first goal relative to age and it was not my last. I constantly use a timeframe for goals.
My race to the finish
I was always in a hurry! I was in hurry to finish high school, college etc! I was in hurry to start work because I wanted to achieve my dreams. I had an internal clock that kept counting down as if I had very little time. I always felt that I have to cram everything into a small amount of time. It came from parents who were in hurry and never seem to have enough time to do everything. Little things like lunch or dinner was just an interruption and then you got back to work.
Maybe my parents were just driven as immigrants! It may have been their way to use time as a motivation for success. I will never know, but whatever the motivation, it worked! They put in a great deal of effort seven (7) days a week to achieve their dreams. It provided them more than a comfortable life for them and still maintained their values. Many Depression era people had the same work ethic. It certainly had a huge effect on me!
I never needed a clock or reminder of time. I had an internal one thanks to my parents. When someone asked me for something, my first question was when you need it? If you said Friday, I backed it off by a day or two because I wanted some leeway to achieve it. I knew that if I needed to put together a team to achieve it, I needed some extra time. I always told my team that I never wanted to find out that someone was delayed in the eleventh hour. It was one of the reasons; I monitored everyone’s progress often to make sure we succeeded. It was my recipe for success!
Timer as a motivator
I sometimes use a timer in the classroom with my students. As you can imagine, teenagers do not have the same sense of time as adults. Perhaps, I should correct that statement to say “some” adults. I have come across many adults who do not a good sense of time either. Just look at retirement planning as just one example. How many people do you know who save enough for retirement. We all know that we should because we all eventually want to retire. Why is there such a disconnect between that knowledge and the poor results.
Perhaps it is motivation or retirement is too vague a goal when it is forty (40) or more than year away! A countdown clock may just keep you motivated and focused on the goal. I think you need more than a clock, but it could have an alarm that would periodically tell you are short or not on track to your goal. I suppose there is an “app” for that! With all the apps out there, I wonder how you will even pay attention to all the alerts.
Personal goals are no different! One of the most important elements in SMART goals is time. You may not realize that time is finite, but you will not live forever! If you did, y it is definite that you will not be able to work forever. Based on that fact alone, you should have some urgency relative to time. I know I did because I did not want to work for someone for forty (40) years. Whatever your goal, you should think about what you want to accomplish this year, five and ten years.
I know this was one of the typical interview questions I used to hear. If you forgot or never heard the question, where do you see yourself in five or ten years? Maybe you never heard it, but you should know what you want to achieve professionally and personally. I know I did! I started planning my future before I graduated college although I was interrupted by the draft (Army). I knew the skills I wanted to accumulate and I wanted to be in management by twenty-five years old. How about you?
I have a countdown clock and it is going to zero! It helps motivate me do some interesting things in my life and there is plenty left to do. Financial independence was not the end, but the beginning of more goals. It meant that I did not have to worry about my retirement and I could do the things I enjoy. The first thing is to set goals and work to achieve them as though you have a countdown clock. In case you are unaware of it, you cannot live forever. Are you making you r best effort toward your goals every day? The countdown clock is going anyway, what are you doing?
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