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The Best Way To Commit To Something

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A lot of people ask me, “How did you become a training facilitator and professional speaker?”

In May of 2009, I was a newer general manager at the Wisconsin Athletic Club. It was the night of our quarterly new-hire orientation where we teach the company’s history, philosophy and goals.

After the orientation, one of the owners asked, “Would anyone like to lead the philosophy module at our next orientation in a few months?” 

With false confidence, I raised my hand and said, “I’ll do it.” Without knowing it at the time, I had just set a deadline to perform my first speaking gig. It was significant because by volunteering to speak in front of a live audience, I was also inadvertently setting a deadline. 

As I walked to my car and realized what I had done, I knew I had to figure out a 90-day plan. 

About one week after I committed, I read about the website futureme.org, which allows you to send accountability emails to yourself into the future. 

The next day, I set up a series of deadlines in the form of progress emails to be sent from me, to me. On June 1, the email I sent and received said, “Complete new-hire orientation outline.” On August 1, “Complete slideshow and practice.” On August 27, which was the morning after I led the new-hire orientation for the first time, “Congratulations, I did it — and didn’t die!” It sure felt good to receive the last one. 

Was I perfect? No way. I was sweating profusely and forgot what I was going to say a few times. Had I failed? Maybe. Had I started to move in the direction I wanted to go, creating some momentum for myself to look ahead and keep my vision in mind? Yes, but I had to learn to be patient. I kept telling myself, “You’re 29 years old, but you’re only one day into public speaking. You just started.” If I hadn’t raised my hand three months prior, I wouldn’t be speaking professionally 10 years later.

Deadlines can be difficult, demanding and easy to hate. However, they are an effective way to get things done. I know if I don’t set a deadline or series of deadlines for myself, I’ll find myself too busy or too tired, or I’ll question my ability to achieve my goals. 

Could a deadline or series of deadlines help you commit to something you want to accomplish? 

Derek Deprey is the director of people and service at Wisconsin Athletic Club. 

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Derek Deprey

Derek Deprey is the director of people and service at Wisconsin Athletic Club.

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