On the cold, clear morning of December 27th, 2010, I had to rush my mom to the hospital. She had been experiencing chest pain for a couple of days, she later told me, and things were getting worse. As I waited in the Emergency Room to hear from the doctors, I thought about all of the things – both personal and professional – I wanted to achieve while my mom was still around to see them.

Fortunately, I expect her to be around for many, many more years. She was lucky that her chest pain was nothing more than a pulled muscle. But I couldn’t get the nagging “what if” out of my head all week…

I know it’s a terrible thing to think about, but it made me get my butt in gear on some major life goals. And now that I’ve set a deadline for these – both personal and professional – I’m already making much more progress than when they were vague “want to do” goals.

Deadlines make you take action…and although they are uncomfortable and force you to work furiously under pressure, deadlines also bring big rewards when you meet them.

Every morning, I read one of the 100 Kekich Credo’s, which are 100 “life lessons” written by a very interesting man, Dave Kekich. One that always strikes me with its power and simplicity is:

“No one gets old by surprise.” – Kekich Credo #84

We all have things we want to accomplish.

We all have dreams and goals of a better life that we want to live.

Yet for some of us, the steps we need to take to get there are always “put off until tomorrow”.

The reason I bring this up is because I’ve heard from a lot of folks this week about why they didn’t enter our recent Financial Independence Monthly Transformation Contest.

The excuses, obviously, were not very good. After all, they were just that: excuses.

I may as well have been told that “Their dog ate their computer.”

Listen, the reason why you didn’t enter the contest was because you really, truly don’t have sufficient reason to change.

Deep down, you’re happy with the way things are now.

Sure, sure, you tell everyone – or at least you tell me – that you want to build a second income and make money with your website.

But actions speak louder than words.

It’s time to step up and hold yourself accountable.

You can’t depend on others to do that for you.

You have to be honest with yourself.

Am I going to do this or not?

Do I want the freedom and independence I can get by building a website business or am I happy just to daydream about it?

There’s nothing wrong with daydreaming.

But you have recognize the difference between daydreaming and serious goal setting. Two very, very different things.

For example, imagine two people who are about the same age and who have the same goal. One day dreams. The other does not. Fast forward five years and you’ll see that the day dreamer is in the same place while the other accomplished what he wanted.

So it’s time to take things very seriously. There are two more quotes that I’ve stumbled across in the past year that are like a bucket of cold water to my face, and I think you’ll find they affect you the same way.

“Whatever your dreams are, start taking them very, very seriously.” – Barbara Sher And…

“You have less time than you think. We all do. Why then are you waiting to fulfill your desire? If you do not start today, then when will you start? You will never start unless you start NOW. Commit yourself heart and soul.” – Felix Dennis

My goal is to help 10,000 men and women gain their financial independence this year through creating an internet business.

Every day that you procrastinate, your dreams move further away.

So here’s what I need you to do:

1.    Set hard deadlines for finishing a major project in your business.
2.    Now cut that deadline by 10%, 25%, or even 50%.
3.    Trust me, you’ll find a way to get it done in less time.

One of the most important lessons Tim Ferriss taught us in The 4-Hour Work Week was about “Parkinson’s Law” which states:

“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

That means if you don’t have a deadline for project completion, then you’ll keep on finding new stuff to add or edit and the work will drag on forever.

If we set a deadline for 6-months from now, we’ll meet it.

But if take that same project and cut the deadline to just 3-months from now, we would still meet it.

We’d find a way.

So get serious. Set a tough deadline. And get it done.

Set a deadline to act now, because without deadlines, nothing would get done.

The deadline is your secret weapon for achieving your dreams.

Take action.

Action leads to attraction.

Action creates momentum and brings opportunity. You’ll be amazed at the people you attract into your business and life when you start taking action and overcome inertia.

I’m off to take my own advice, and I’ll let you know how it goes.

[Ed Note: Craig Ballantyne is the Editor of EarlytoRise.com and Financial Independence Monthly. He also coaches executives of companies with sales over $1 million. Today, Craig is re-opening his virtual mastermind group that includes all the benefits of in-person masterminds, but saves all of the travel. Click here to find out more.]

Craig Ballantyne

Craig Ballantyne is the author of The Perfect Day Formula: How to Own the Day and Control Your Life. Craig has been a contributor to Men’s Health magazine for over 17 years. Today he teaches his gift high-performing entrepreneurs how to squeeze more out of their days, increase their income, and make more quality time for their families in his Perfect Life Workshop and Work-Life Mastery programs. Craig used his own advice to overcome crippling anxiety attacks in 2006, and he’ll teach you his 5 Pillars of Success so you can increase your income, decrease your work time, and live the life of your dreams. Learn more about Craig at craigballantyne.com