What does it mean to have a timeline? Understanding and working with timelines feels like a key part of being part of today’s world. Whether at work or school, in our professional or personal lives, we have created a world that’s always on a timeline. Some plans might be short-term, while others can stretch on for years. Like many parts of our lives, there are pros and cons to these timelines. They can free us up or make us feel constrained; they can bring stress or relief. But today, I wanted to remind myself (and you, whenever you read this) of one very important thing: you are on your own timeline, and that timeline isn’t permanent.
The inspiration for this post happened around a month ago, when I wrote something about my excitement for the coming of spring, and the start of another month. To me, each month feels like a new opportunity, a chance to start fresh and improve where I can. That’s what made me think of timelines; I was reflecting on what mine are, how I create them and how they’re enforced. There were two key thoughts this reflection led to.
Even though every month is a new chance for me to start fresh, not everyone sees things that way. We all deserve a chance to slow down, take a deep breathe and reset. Some people do that on a daily basis; others on a yearly one. Doing this on a monthly basis works best for me, but I can see why someone else might find that challenging. This is a good reminder that even though we’re all human, we experience the world in different ways.
As I step into April, a few thoughts about timelines crossed my mind. The first key thought was my realization that not all my timelines are up to me. A lot of the timelines (and deadlines) I have are either a) asked of me, or b) created with my input. Either way, there are situations where I don’t have complete control, and that can be frustrating. I’d like to change my attitude on that, and it starts with recognizing what my own expectations are.
The other conclusion I came to – and this was the big thing for me – was the reminder that it’s okay to adjust your timeline. When I was younger, I saw most things in black and white. But with every passing year, I’m learning that most things aren’t that way. There are shades of nuance everywhere and not only is that okay, it makes sense. Human beings are complicated – why wouldn’t our problems be? So I try to adjust my attitude. Changing course doesn’t always signal failure, and making adjustments doesn’t mean you did something wrong. I know I’m way too harsh on myself when I have to adjust something. That’s because for a long time, I thought it was wrong to do so.
I’m not here to hate on deadlines or condemn people who make plans. I like both of these things, and they play an important role in our lives. What I’m also saying, however, is that it’s okay to adjust. It doesn’t mean we always can, but we shouldn’t forget we have that option. As you go into this month, I hope you can remember that – no matter what your timeline is or where you are on it.