Hello! For today, my plan was to have the cardigan for our grandson finished and write about that, but as I’m writing this, the pieces are still drying on my blocking mats. In other words, I didn’t meet the deadline.

But hang on, who said I needed to meet a deadline? The word deadline popping up in my head made me stop dead in my tracks and set a whole train of thoughts in motion. It also brought back some unpleasant emotions that made me feel like withdrawing into a place like this…

… and spend lots of time on the bench opposite philosophizing about deadlines, getting things done and the meaning of life.

I photographed the house and the sculpture by Stephen Beale in the village of Houwerzijl. The sculpture is called Concrete Thoughts and is made from concrete and a patchwork of aluminium.

Back to deadlines. Why does the very word make me want to hide away? Well, for 30 years I worked as a non-fiction translator specializing in agriculture, sustainability, management and psychology. And whether I was asked to translate a grant proposal, a manual for a potato harvester, a research article or a self-help book, the contract always included a deadline.

For a long time I was fine with that. But over time the deadlines became non-negotiable and tighter and tighter, until they became totally unrealistic. When my work/life had become a race against the clock, I decided to quit.

No more deadlines EVER, I promised myself. Life is too short to let the seasons rush by without enjoying them. (It’s orchid season here now.)

One of the things I wanted time for was creativity and making things. I am fortunate enough to now have an undemanding job as a web editor. And with no children at home and no aging parents to care for anymore, time is not really an issue. But how to get things done without outside pressure and deadlines? I have given myself one deadline – publishing a blog post on Fridays. It’s a helpful deadline, that gives me courage and helps me overcome perfectionism, but it’s the only deadline I’m willing to impose on myself.

Some projects come with their own deadlines, like gifts that need to be finished before a birthday, or a child’s cardi that needs to be finished before it is outgrown. Writing this, I’m beginning to see that it’s especially creative things I would like to do just for my own fulfilment that I’m struggling with.

For instance, I have been working on a new shawl design for a long time, planning to publish it in January or February. But first I got side-tracked, and then kept knitting more and more swatches to tweak just one last thing.

At this rate I may be ready to publish this pattern for a nice warm shawl in July or August. Or November. Or never. Does that matter? In the grand scheme of things not in the least. But to me it does.

Having always been driven by deadlines, I am wondering about a more gentle way of getting things done. I do love making things, and there are many creative ideas I’d love to pursue, but somehow I don’t get round to them or I don’t finish them. Apparently love is not always enough. Do you struggle with this, too? Or do you find it easy to take time to just be creative? Do you ever set yourself deadlines? Do you have other strategies? Or are you fine with not finishing things?

I have no idea whether this is an issue for others, too. Anyway, thank you for reading this long and personal post!

4 thoughts on “Deadlines”

  1. Wat herkenbaar en goed dat je het zo kan opschrijven.
    Ik heb geen deadlines, maar wil wel graag iets afmaken. En ja als de liefde niet groot genoeg is, dan is afscheid nemen beter dan doorworstelen. Dat doe ik geregeld, maar daardoor komen andere zaken wel af en blijf je volop genieten van wat je doet.

    • Ah, dus het is voor jou ook herkenbaar. Idd is het soms ook goed om afscheid te nemen van dingen waar je niet echt blij van wordt. Dank!

  2. I do “…feel your pain.”
    It seems that we have to redefine “deadlines” in each season of our lives. I am very impressed with your decision, “When my work/life had become a race against the clock, I decided to quit.” You took back your power. Thank you for your blog posts, they offer me an insight into your thoughts and talents that often prompt my own thoughts and adventures in creativity.

    • Thank you for your kind words and for letting me know that I’m not the only one. Quitting wasn’t an easy decision and looking back it took me years to work up to it. It still feels painful from time to time, because I also loved the work and found it valuable.

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