The stick has been replaced by the carrot, which is decidedly a turn for the better.
Scant months ago I was under the gun --- and a large caliber one at that --- to finish this Summer. My advisor and I pushed for an extension for the Fall as we felt that was a tough, but doable, time limit. Instead, the administration was feeling particularly magnanimous (or finally got embarrassed enough by the series of errors it made for which it made me suffer) and gave me until the Spring of '14. I was immensely relieved.
However, even though I've until next Spring to finish, I still intend on defending this Fall. Why? Because now I have new incentive to do so, and this time a positive one.
I have informally accepted a post-doc position at Penn State starting in January. And, well, the "post" of "post-doc" sorta implies that I'd already be a doctor, ya know? =)
So, now I'm strongly motivated to wrap up over the next several months and get hooded in December. But this time the motivation is fueled by something to look forward to, and not abject fear of failure.