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Around 7 years ago when I was still studying for my degree, I was killing time with one of my friends before the class. We were drinking coffee and waiting for the professor to show up with around 30 minutes to spare. She pulled out her purse and got a box out, asking if I want to do something fun. The two of us then made sure no one was around when she showed me what she had in her hands. It was a necklace of some sort with a charm that was made of a crystal in an oblong shape. A Pendulum! Anything spiritual was always a little guilty pleasure to me, so I did not hesitate to agree to an impromptu session. Immediately, my first question was – will I be able to go on holiday to Turkey that summer and to my delight, the answer was yes. The friend then asked if she could expect to open her clothing boutique next year and once again the pendulum gave a positive answer. She then asked about whether our classmate really would be going to run a marathon in North Korea as he was planning to, and this is when the pendulum started acting strangely. To this day, I have little idea of how you operate it and what it says but after 5 minutes of frustration, my friend simply said “I think he might die. I see no future for him at all.” I asked if she meant he might die during his trip? She just shrugged her shoulders. Not wanting to leave it on a negative note, I said that at least we were both getting good things this year and next. Once again she turned to me and said that in any form of divination, timeframes are never really set in stone.

That thought stuck with me for a while. We can throw any mysticism out of the equation and still ask ourselves, is there really a point in planning but not setting the date? An engagement might become a burden if we do not know when the wedding will take place as we need to plan an appropriate budget and book the venue, liaise with food caterers, organise travel arrangements. Even the flowers could become your enemies because a lot of them are seasonal, so forget delphiniums if it is a September wedding, however you are in luck if you move it to October. And whilst these details might seem like something a wedding planner should worry about, keep in mind that blue flowers are exquisite and are much more expensive when you try to get them out of season, so it is only the wedding planner’s concern until the moment that you must make a choice between what you desire and what it costs. This could surely be avoided if you set a date for your wedding and then plan everything based on that. It can still of course be a stressful time but at least you do not have to deal with the uncertainties that setting the date eliminates.

Deadlines are something that keep us focused and provide the sense of urgency that is a great source of productivity. They also provide you with both comfort and motivation. You end up following certain steps to reach your goal and you are also responsible as to how it gets done. Control over your own goals cannot be underestimated as a lot of abstract ideas become very much real. ‘Someday’ transforms to ‘Monday’ or ‘1st October’ or ‘August 2024’. There is something satisfying in the certainty, as a person is suddenly moving through time and not simply being carried by the flow.

When you have a goal, you should probably also think of a plan. If you have a plan, you should probably set a timeframe. Otherwise, how different are you from my fortune-telling friend? In the end, she did end up opening her boutique, but before that she spent a long time working to meet all her goals in time for the opening; I went to Turkey the year after as I realised that at the time I did not really have the funds to support my dream vacation; and our marathon-running classmate is currently thriving and living his best life. He will die of course, but hopefully at a ripe old age. After all, the timeframes that are not set by us can never be guaranteed.

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