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Goals and Planning: Tricks & Treats

Two of my best friends (sad but true): Franklin Planner and OmniFocus

Steve's STORY: Goals and Planning: Tricks & Treats

I don't think I'm alone in my use of - no I should say my happy dependence upon - planners. In the mid-90's my wife gave me my first Franklin Planner. I quickly began using it especially to capture and track "to do" lists. It was such a relief to get all those tasks out of my brain and into my Franklin. I became a voracious task master...capturing even the most routine items and gleefully checking them off as complete or sadly arrowing over those I pushed off to another day.

I might hold a record for the longest use of a Franklin Planner. I finally emptied my last planner (above) on the day of my retirement last summer. This reflects the value of the Franklin in my life, but honestly, more so my lack of technical skills that had me languishing in the 1990s.

Though corporate work was now behind me, I found that my household tasks, travel planning, and writing schedule needed to be organized as well. I proudly went technical and downloaded the free OmniFocus app. HEAVEN...I'm in HEAVEN! I especially like the "repeat" function so I can schedule recurring obligations once. And it's so easy to push things off it's almost enjoyable. But not as fun as checking items as done.

I did use my Franklin to track meetings as well, but moves to mobile phone (Blackberry around 2000 and iPhone in 2008). I'm extremely diligent (my past teams might have said "annoying" or "possessed") with setting and tracking meetings.

My Top 5 Reasons for Being a "Possessed" Meeting Planner:

  1. As an introvert, I NEED planned meetings much more so than impromptu chats. This allows me to do some prep work around the agenda and come prepared to discuss or debate.

  2. Scheduling meetings avoids the time to go see if someone is in their office to chat. And if they aren't, I head back to my office and try again later. It seems like '80s inefficiency.

  3. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. I respect other's time. I expect most people don't like me just barging into their office to cover one of my tasks anymore than I like either doing it or receiving a similar interruption.

  4. I schedule personal time. Whether I use it to prep for a meeting, read some industry articles, tackle emails, or take a "social exertion break", if I don't block it out, that time will be gone and I'll either not get to those things (not good for my introversion anxiety) or I'm working late.

  5. If I don't manage my own calendar/time, someone else will.

By the time I retired June 2018, I had a LONG list of projects, travels, house jobs to do. However, I quickly realized that without organization, I would look back in a year and find I'd done a little bit of everything but really had not accomplished anything of significance. I wanted to make a difference in retirement. So I set four specific goals:

  1. HEALTH: Healthy eating and exercise may come naturally to others, but for me I was overweight and laying on a couch in-utero. My husky to morbidly obese frame (depending on the year) was the source of tremendous bullying...mostly by myself. Thus, my self-esteem also suffered. So at retirement I learned about Mindfulness & Moderation and began implementing this into my eating and exercise routine. I began asking simple questions of I really hungry and for what? I also relied on this philosophy to change my exercise replace intense, unsustainable exercise programs of my past with a greater variety of workouts. Instead of training for half marathons to the point of physical and mental exhaustion, I balanced gym cardio of my choice with 5k runs, stationary biking, Reformer Pilates, and yoga. More on this in a future August BLOG, but it made all the difference. It raised my self-esteem and I'm so much happier and healthier as a result.

  2. FAMILY: After 30 years of working late, traveling often, and coming home exhausted from stretching out of my social comfort zone, I was determined to finally give my family my best. So I set up excursions and projects with each to reconnect in meaningful ways. I think it is changing my family relationships in a positive and fulfilling way.

  3. WRITING: As noted in last Thursday's (July 25) blog, I felt drawn to reconnect with writing after a hiatus of nearly 35 years. I enjoyed some newspaper writing as a kid and some occasional journaling as an adult, but I wanted to explore my skill, interest, and inner thoughts now that I had the time and was embracing my introversion. As my writing coach told me, many want to write but only those with determination and fortitude succeed. OmniFocus definitely keeps me on track every day.

  4. FINANCES: Besides being an introvert, I'm also fairly OCD. So, I consulted with our financial adviser OFTEN in making the decision to retire in 2018. I realized for my own sanity I needed to continue to have periodic check-ins, a loose but effective budget, and some initiatives to challenge some ongoing costs.

If any tasks or volunteer opportunities sprouted up, I have been diligent to screen them against these four priorities. As a result, I can say I've made significant progress against each of these goals in the past 12 months. I continue to develop smaller, quarterly goals under these 4 pillars.

Question of the Week

Especially as Introverts, I suspect most of us rely upon some sort of Planner. What is your Planner System and how does it make you happier?

Share your answers on our Facebook page or confidentially via email.

Monday's Butterfly Quote:

"When you find yourself cocooned in isolation and you cannot find your way out of darkness... Remember, this is similar to the place where caterpillars go to grow their wings." -Necole Stephens

Sneak PEAK

As a sneak preview, our first Thursday of the month blog falls under "Leisure Learning." Years ago, I was fortunate to spend a weekend in Hiroshima as a respite amidst one of my many long trips to the Far East.

Given next week marks the 74th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, I'm providing a bit of my personal trauma at the time with this resilient city as a back drop. I hope you'll find the locale fascinating and perhaps my struggles a bit too familiar.

Count Me In!

You are invited to VOTE on the back cover blurb for my upcoming memoir!

I’m in the final editing phases of my memoir, In Search of Courage, due out on book shelves and online stores in the first quarter of 2020. I’m currently working to land on a back cover recap or blurb, and I’d love your input. You don’t need to know anything about the book. Below are two draft blurbs. If you were scanning these at a bookstore or on Amazon, which peaks your interest? Which of them makes you curious to learn more and read on?

Vote A or B by email to

A Steve Friedman’s memoir, In Search of Courage traces his turbulent life as an introvert striving to compete with social pressure while climbing the ladder in corporate America. With the world as his backdrop during years of travels, Friedman bares his soul to uncover forgotten experiences and hard fought truths that had evaded him for years in his search for courage. Eventually, Friedman’s memoir reveals a path toward happiness but can he finally muster the courage to make the right choices? B Steve Friedman presents a story about his battles to cope with his introversion from an early age. To combat the pressures of adolescence and corporate America, he adopts addictive behaviors that threaten his health and his family life. Friedman faces many forks in the road but struggles to make the tough decisions to find peace and happiness. What would you do when faced with such adversity? You will find yourself rooting for Friedman while also testing your own mettle. In Search of Courage is a fast read, but the lessons will inspire for years to come.

You can vote by sending an email to and simply noting your favorite (A or B) in the subject line. Certainly, any further comments on the blurb or our website/blog are always welcome. The winning blurb will be announced in August.

Be the first to read "In Search of Courage" and have a chance to input on the final product!

Additionally, I’m seeking Beta readers to read my advanced manuscript and provide feedback for incorporation in my final edits. If you are interested, please add “Beta YES” to the above email subject line or text.

More information will follow and you will be placed in a raffle for free prizes in the fall!

Your participation in our website and with my memoir makes all the difference. Thanks in advance!

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