Listen up, Peter Cottontail, it’s Spring—a time of revitalization. Starting over. Starting fresh. So let’s get hippity-hoppity (Yeah, I said it) with your b-school candidacy and plow a new trail, create an innovative project, and commit to making a difference through your extracurriculars (or, as we call them at Forster-Thomas, “Power-curriculars”).

But whatever you’ve decided you’re going to do—whether it’s launching a microlending organization in Guatemala or a new mentoring program for at-risk teens, becoming a Big Brother or Sister, or helping yourself and everyone around you lose weight, the only way it’s ever going to happen is if you put a date on it.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s great that you’re coming up with all those ideas, but no matter how ambitious your plans, if you don’t put a date on them, none of them will come to pass. Trust me on this. I’ve seen it happen too many times to count.

I heard Lori swear that she and her friends were going to lose 20 pounds each. Fred went on and on about how he was going to organize a reunion for his high school basketball league, and Cosmo was convinced he was going to launch a holiday food drive in his old neighborhood. Let’s just put it this way: Lori’s boyfriend still can’t fit a ring on it, there never was a reunion for Fred’s basketball league, and nobody ever helped Cosmo collect a single can, let alone a hill, of beans.

Why? Because none of them put a date on it. Putting a date, or “the when” on something, makes it real—not just for you, but for everyone. You can’t get a team or group to commit to an event if you don’t tell them when the event is. They can’t make plans to be there, they can’t fit it into their schedules, and frankly, they don’t really see it as something that’s ever going to happen, so they never rally around your cause. In the absence of a date, it’s just a fantasy. Not only will you be unable to organize your life around it, but nobody else will be able to, either.

This brings me to the tale of Henri, a Frenchman living in London. A very fine Frenchman, I might add. A steamy baguette, if you will. It was January of 2010, and he was doing his ever-amour-ing best to bolster his extracurricular prowess (Yes, just his extracurricular prowess, you slimebags). The prior summer, he had spent several weeks in Cambodia, where he stumbled upon a non-profit arts organization for poor and orphaned children. It’s a place with little funding, limited art supplies, and no ability to hire the Jeff Koonses of the world. Henri wanted to change all of that. So he came up with an idea: “Let’s do an art show in London. We’ll fly the students’ artwork in, invite all the twenty-something finance MBA-bound people we know to help us, and make sure the school gets the funding it needs to put its students on the map.”

Faaabulous, right? Wrong. Everybody seemed to love the idea, but no one actually called him back a second time, or committed any time, money, or logistical help to the project. When I explained to him that it wasn’t “real” because nobody knew how, where, or when the event was taking place, he sang the same song that Lori, Fred, Cosmo, and everyone else sings: “Once I get everybody on board, then I’ll decide when it’s going to happen.”

Oh, sister-mother. That’s when I demanded that Henri set a date. It was January, and frankly, three months’ prep time, as far as I’m concerned, is always enough. Out of thin air, I declared, “March 31st will be the date of this event!” Just giving a date to it gave the whole event the key ingredient it was missing—the when.

And despite the fact that Henri was in complete fear, he took a chance, calling and emailing his contacts back with the specific date. Like the everlasting light of the eight days of Chanukah, a miraculous thing happened: There was a domino effect. The friends and colleagues who were available around that time began to come up with potential locations, sponsors, supplies, and more manpower. And those who were not, did not. No biggie.

Creating the date made the whole thing real. And while the event didn’t take place until sometime in the middle of April, it took place. And Jeff Koons is actually considering going to teach a class in Cambodia. Ok, maybe not. But at least the possibility is out there. Beat that. Without a date, you never will.

So, all you Spring chickens chirping to get into a top b-school, if you do one thing this hippity-hoppity season, stop pussyfooting around and commit to it—put a date on it. The Easter Bunny does. So should you.

Love,
Auntie Evan