The Day My Day Planner Died.

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I love the beginning of the New Year.  I’m a big goal setter and my resolutions list is always a bit crazy.  A few years ago I used to work for Franklin Day Planners and January was always exciting because we got to put fresh pages inside our planners and orders flew out of the warehouse.  There’s a Far Side cartoon about a man forgetting to bring his duck to a seminar and that’s how it was like to work at Franklin, if you showed up to a meeting without your planner you were instantly a pariah.

The thing I loved about working for Franklin (besides the amazing people) were the new forms and inventions they developed to modify your day planner.  They had forms for every conceivable project or idea and the inside of my planner looked like the mental explosion of a crazy person.  I knew every tab and page.  I was a planning fiend.  My prioritized task list put others to shame.

Business at Franklin was doing well.  Companies were paying thousands of dollars to have Franklin trainers teach their employees how to be more productive, seminars around the world were selling out faster than they could be booked and our distribution center literally went from about ten guys pushing shopping carts and riding skateboards to one of the most sophisticated and high tech centers in the United States.

Then the truly ironic thing happened to Franklin…they encountered something they hadn’t planned for.

The smart phone was invented and suddenly almost everything the Franklin planner could do was reduced to an app.  Sales dropped to almost nothing overnight and it was truly painful to me to watch this wonderful place fall apart before my eyes.

When I look at my day planner today I often wonder what would have happened if Franklin designed a form for when your plans fall apart.  An ‘oh shit’ tab, or a ‘what now?’ form.

Whenever I start a new project, make a new list of resolutions, set new goals or establish a timetable I try to remember all the things about time management and planning I learned while working at Franklin.  However no plan ever goes exactly the way we want it to go.  If we look at things with an agenda then we are prevented from seeing things objectively and accepting the way they actually are.  There is a story of a student seeking out a martial arts instructor which is a great example of being accepting and looking at all paths to the top of the mountain.

On the first day of training a student asks the teacher how long he will have to train until he becomes a master. 

            “Ten years.”  The teacher says.

            “Ten years!  That’s too long.  What if I train twice as hard as your other students?” 

            “Twenty years.”  The teacher says.

            “Twenty years!  That’s ridiculous.  What if I train day and night, weekends and holidays?  What if I devote every waking hour to my training?  How long will it then take me to become a master?”  The student groans.

            “Fifty years.”  The teacher says.

            “Why is it when I say I will train harder you tell me it will take longer to reach my goal?”

            “When one eye is fixed upon your destination that only leaves one eye to find the way.”  The teacher said.


When setting out on your goals for this New Year, be gentle with yourself.  Know that a little of something is better than a lot of nothing.  If you’re making progress, even if it’s happening slowly then you will succeed as long as you do not stop.  Believe in yourself and keep your mind open for any possibility.  There may be a completely different way to approach your goal that you are unable to see because you’re stuck in your preconceived notions.  Remember that failures can often be blessings in disguise.  There was scientist named Spencer Silver who was trying to make a super strong glue that would hold the heat shield tiles to the Space Shuttle during reentry.  His glue sucked.  It was barely sticky at all but he took that glue and made post-it notes out of it.  He turned a failure into a success.

Good luck with your endeavors for 2014


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  1. Cami

    Darren, this parable gave me something I didn’t expect, thank you for sharing it. I really love reading your blog and the stories you tell are always inspiring, and kind and bright. Thank you for being a bright light. I am beginning to write out my vows to myself for the upcoming year (much longer really) – I’d like to reframe the idea of resolutions really. So for me, I’m creating a revolution in the way in which I approach my day to day life. Not really an end goal in sight, except for the acceptance of watching how life shows up, when I approach it from a state of simply loving myself. I imagine it’s going to knock my socks off. Life has a tendency to do that. Thank you for this post – it is perfect right now!

    1. Darren Lamb

      Thanks Cami. You are always so kind and thoughtful to me. I appreciate all the light you bring into the world.

  2. Marla

    Great post!

    1. Darren Lamb

      Thanks Marla. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

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