A lot of times when I give myself a goal, I set two deadlines. One is the absolute deadline, the other the dream deadline. For example, today is Tuesday. If I have an assignment due Monday at 2, my absolute deadline is Monday at 2. My dream deadline however would probably be Friday at 6. That is I want to try and finish it by then so I have the weekend free but know that if I don't well, I have time. I tend to finish things by the absolute deadline more than the dream deadline.
Sometimes goals don't have specific deadlines, but rather levels of completion. I gave myself the goal of not drinking any soda in October as a dream goal, but gave myself guidelines in which I was allowed to drink soda without it counting against me (this was mainly just that I was allowed to have ginger ale if I got sick). As it happens I did achieve my dream goal of no soda in October. I gave myself this goal because I noticed that I was drinking more soda than I normally did before since it was now readily available in the dining hall.
Now that October is over I decided I need a new goal. This one will be more traditional in terms of deadlines. I began writing a novel nearly three years ago. I finished the first draft after a year and a half, though interestingly enough the last third of it was written in the space of a week because I was able to give myself a scheduled writing time everyday. Once I finished my draft I stopped allocating time. Which is why it's now almost a year and a half later and I have only about 2/3 of the book edited into a second draft. And since the first draft is hand written it also means I only have the first 2/3 or the book saved somewhere besides a binder. So since November is National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo) I am taking this opportunity not to write another novel, but to finish the current draft of the one I've been writing for the past three years.
Here's the thing. I have classes. And homework. And a second round of midterms. So I've decided that while my dream goal is to finish my current draft by Novermber 30 at 11:59 PM whatever timezone I happen to be in, my absolute goal is December 31 at 11:59 PM whatever timezone I happen to be in, since my quarter ends December 10, and I have 3 weeks off from school with no homework or anything. Although to be fair I managed to do almost no work all summer even though I had pretty ample free time (I was also working at a day camp which is very tiring though, she said unconvincingly).
Considering that I just spent a good chunk of free time writing this longer than usual post, I think this will be an interesting month or two.