When your expectations are high and you’re looking forward to a positive response, you want the time line to be short. Remember as a child excitedly counting the days before your birthday or Christmas?
What if your expectations are low and the response is potentially negative or difficult to accomplish? You’re more likely to postpone the undesirable task for as long as you could.
Putting things off might be justifiable, but if the reason for extending the time line is suspect you may be dealing with a fictitious frontier.
Fictitious frontiers are illusive barriers people construct when they want to avoid dealing with undesirable or unknown consequences. The “September syndrome” is one example whereby the announcement of a project due date in early summer garners suggestions that, “Let’s wait until September when everyone is back from vacation.”
The “New Year hold off” is another example. You begin to hear this refrain in October starting with the back-to-back Federal holidays when you ask for a quick turn around, you get the response, “Everyone will be busy with the holiday season, so let’s hold off until the New Year?”
One way to separate a fictitious frontier from a real time impediment is to work through your expectations and responses with those most closely involved. Comparing expectations among the Doers on your team helps to focus on the legitimacy of the due date and respond honestly to the challenges.
Note: Today is the tomorrow you put off yesterday.