Opportunistic Deadlines

Day 278 Week 40 Q4 Friday, October 6, 2023

Sometimes, deadlines are defined by others. And sometimes deadlines come from such a long way off that they seem unreal. Other times, deadlines are immediate. There is another category of deadlines, which is much less deadly and far more enabling. I call these opportunistic deadlines. Let me explain with a recent example.

Like many people who think they have something to say, I have been writing and rewriting a book for some time. After stalling and restarting multiple times, enough times that not only did the book change, but I too changed, and so did the world.

Last year, I thought it might take less time to write a new book from scratch than to continue to wrestle with the old versions.
And that, if I wrote the book incrementally, a little a time, and converted myself from a hare into a tortoise, perhaps I could be a marathoner instead of a sprinter. My hypothesis was if I wrote a two-page, 500-word blog posting every day; eventually, I would have enough content for a book.

Characteristically, like the involuntary innovator and creative outlier, I am, I got carried away. You never do that? Right? A year passed, and I found I had accumulated over 800 pages. In my mind, I wanted a short book of 100 to 150 pages that was 5.5” by 8.5” which could be read in a single sitting. After several months of pulling hair, I got down to 270 pages, including front introductory and rear summarizing material. This is where it stood until recently right now. I had enough additional material for another few books, but I still did not have a finished book.

About this time, I visited one of my favorite eating establishments, where the owner asked me, “How is that book coming?” I told him I was close now, and he stunned me by saying he wanted to have a book launch party for me. Of course, I told him I was not ready, but during the next two weeks, I thought what a generous offer and went back to ask him what he meant by that offer. He said he would publicize it in the local press and with signage in his restaurant. I asked him what this would cost me, and to my amazement, he said nothing because it would be profitable for him. He was being more entrepreneurial than I was about my book!

I could not say no to this generous offer, but the problem was I still did not have a book, so I went back a few days later, picked a date sixty days out, and worked back to determine what it would take to be ready. This was an Opportunistic Deadline from which I derived all of the steps leading up to this date, wondrously completed the book, and sent it out for feedback so I could order the books in time to bring them to the launch.

Now, on schedule, the launch will occur on the chosen date, and suddenly, I found myself with a finished book. This was my opportunistic deadline!