Urgency Leads to Action

So go ahead and set yourself a few deadlines

Credit: Unsplash
“You must take action now that will move you towards your goals. Develop a sense of urgency in your life.” — H Jackson Brown Jr

Stress takes its toll on the body. Bad moods, poor sleep, dark circles. A never ending dark cycle of dark circles.

But stress isn’t the same as pressure. The two aren’t mutually dependent.

Sure, pressure leads to stress. But pressure can also lead to a sense of urgency. Not everyone needs stress — not everyone can handle it. But most of us need a sense of urgency if we want to get things done.

Losing the dynamism

Everyone’s favourite Scottish economist, Adam Smith, believed in the natural order of things.

“Leave man to do his own thing,” he said. Smith’s exact words, of course.

Smith was optimistic about human nature. With man’s innate self-interest came the natural desire to self-improve. We didn’t need prompting — “don’t intervene… and society will end up benefiting, too”. Our inner improver would lead us to greatness. We were dynamic.

Unfortunately, Smith wasn’t around to see the effects of the digital era. Maybe we’re still self-interested, but we’re a great deal more passive. Our inner improver is hiding away, waiting for the information to be handed to us on a Google-shaped plate. Everything’s there, so we’ve really not got the need to go out and get. We sit back and let the magic come to us.

Winning back the dynamism

But it’s not really magic. Apart from the self-interest, we’re not fulfilling the Smithian sense of human nature.

So how do we take a couple of steps in the right direction?

More often than not, urgency comes from deadlines. And deadlines are an example of intervention – they’re an artificial imposition of urgency. A week to complete a project, a month to organise a presentation, a year to plan a wedding.

Deadlines give us something to work towards; a mission. If we don’t have deadlines, we risk passivity and we become complacent.

“In everyday life, there is always mañana. There is no urgency.” — Mark Spitz

Without deadlines, we take things for granted. If we know we have forever, we have less of an urge to get it done. We rest on the idea that, somewhere down the line, it will be done. And because of this, we take the people around us, the opportunities in front of us, for granted. They’ll be there for a long time… so apparently we have time.

And by ‘we’, I don’t mean everyone. The Smithian sense of man does exist. Some of us can be left to our own devices. But for the purpose of this article, I’m being particularly pessimistic about human nature – I’m taking a Malthusian approach.

Credit: Unsplash
“The most successful entrepreneurs not only have courage and imagination, they also have a sense of urgency. They’re not willing to wait. They have a burning desire to get something done.” — Malcolm Gladwell

If you don’t feel like you’re getting stuff done, if you feel like you’re in limbo and you can’t switch yourself on, then set yourself a deadline.

Create that desire for yourself and that sense of urgency. Make lists, set alarms, plaster Sticky Notes all over your walls. Have something to work towards and reward yourself when you achieve.

And if you can’t do it yourself, get someone else to do it for you.

Don’t let your desire lose its value. If urgency doesn’t come naturally, push yourself to go and find it.


“You must take action now that will move you towards your goals. Develop a sense of urgency in your life.” — H Jackson Brown Jr
Credit: Reddit

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