It would be the one thing that stopped Father Time.
Even an expert like him couldn’t overcome this obstacle, warning signals and all.
I had never heard of Trapper Woods until the close of 2015. At the time, I had decided to invest in a better paper planner than the $2 ones I usually picked up at Wal-Mart while shopping for groceries.
After some online research, I settled on a Day-Timer, specifically a 2-page-a-day insert themed Garden Path and a 5 x 8 pink leather cover with a snap enclosure and a tiny pink breast cancer ribbon embossed on the lower right corner.
The Day-Timer seemed a bit more complex than the cheap planners I was used to so I googled to see if I could find some tips on how best to take advantage of all its features.
That’s when I found Trapper Woods. (You gotta love that name!)
Trapper was a trainer for Day-Timer for many years. As such, he became known as an authority on planning and earned the nickname Father Time.
But, whatever you do, don’t call him a time management expert. He insisted there was no such thing as time management. We cannot manage time, he said. No matter what we do, the clock keeps ticking.
In some sports, you can manage time. A player, coach, or a referee can call a time-out. That stops the clocks. Then….. time-in. The clock starts ticking again. But, that’s not how it works in real life.
No. Instead of trying to manage time, Trapper said, we should focus on managing our activities that fill that time, day in and day out.
No matter what we do, we cannot control time. But, we can control our activities.
This concept intrigued me. And so did the man. And so did the title of the book he wrote with his son, Attack Your Day Before It Attacks You.
After I was knocked down health-wise and then got back up again, I felt like I needed to make up for lost time. I had many things I wanted to accomplish and now I had a new perspective after eight months of frustratingly less-than-productive days and, toward the end, the fear imminent death from God knows what.
I felt as if I had been given a second chance at life. I know not everyone is so fortunate. I didn’t want to waste a minute once I got my brain and my energy back.
But, that was the problem. I had so much I wanted to do and, within each day, so little time to do it all. I started identifying with the proverb, He who chases two rabbits catches none. I wasn’t chasing two; I was chasing about six!
And seemingly little to show for my efforts.
Trapper Woods, help!
Attack Your Day
The day Trapper’s book arrived in the mail, I started reading. Anxious to learn all the tricks of the trade, stuff I strongly believe they ought to teach in grade school, I plowed right in. Maybe I could finish the book today and start with my newfound time activity management system tomorrow.
I didn’t get very far before I was stopped in my tracks.
In the Introduction, Trapper’s son, Mark, who co-wrote the book, describes the scene when he and his father received the first pre-published copy of Attack Your Day Before It Attacks You.
They were at Utah’s Snowbird Ski Resort, Trapper’s “favorite place on earth.” On his balcony overlooking the mountains, the elder Woods opened their long-planned father-son project to a random page and started reading.
In Mark’s words:
“Three Incredible Gifts. Getting down to the most basic of basics, you need to realize that each day we are given three incredible gifts.
- The gift of time, without which activities cannot be executed.
- The gift of personal energy, essential for doing the activities.
- The gift of choice, to determine what activities we will do.
He took a long pause, and with tears in his eyes said, Cancer has taken all three gifts from me. It’s taken my gift of time; I don’t have much left. It’s taken my gift of personal energy; I have none. And it’s taken my gift of choice; I can no longer choose my activities.”
Three weeks later, Father Time was dead.
Trapper Woods’ clock stopped ticking on his 75th birthday.
When I first read this account, I had a lot of tasks on my to-do list. Attack Your Day Before It Attacks You has helped me better manage those activites if not my time. I use Trapper’s traffic-light system to help identify which tasks will move me closer to achieving my SMART goals (green lights), which ones I must accomplish even if they don’t (red lights), and which ones to consider deleting because they might be more distracting than anything (yellow lights).
But it was the Introduction of this book that has had the most profound and lasting effect on me. I thought of my mom who, like Trapper, was cheated out of her three gifts – time, energy, and choice.
I know Mom was frustrated and felt helpless in the final years of her life. Like me, she had things in life she wanted to do. Most of her adult life was spent raising her ten children. After retiring from the part-time job she took and enjoyed at a local department store, she finally had time to spend her days as she pleased, with Dad who was also retired after a lifetime of labor.
But, so many of their final days were spent going to doctors’ appointments or for treatment, in and out of the hospital. Then, in Mom’s case, having hospice nurses come in several times a week to check in on her and refill prescription meds.
Cancer is a Big Thief but it’s not the only thief. Six years after helping Mom through to her last breath, I watched my mother-in-law practically have her brain stolen by Alzheimer’s disease.
Time, energy, and choice. Gone.
Alive, but not living.
My mission is clear. Attack my day, every day, and work harder and smarter to get the word out to as many people as possible. Good people need to know there is a better way.
Before there is no choice, there is a choice. There are lots of choices. And those choices have a huge impact on the outcome. At least we can choose, over and over again, to tip the odds in our favor.
To live – truly live – until the hour of our timely death.
Thanks to Trapper Woods, I spend less time doing activities that don’t really matter and more time on the ones that do.
Plus, I have a stronger mission – to carry the torch and to keep it burning.
Because, as of today, my clock is still ticking.