An Entire Life Plan on 17 3×5 Cards

I now carry my entire life’s plan everywhere I go. Written in pencil on 17 3×5 cards, it’s the most efficient form of the Simple System for Everything. You can do it too, easily. Here is what it does for me.

It holds a condensed code to my most important aspirations.

It reminds me who I am when I’m at my best.

It connects me to the people I love and admire the most.

It teases me toward my dreams and offers a way to touch them.

It opens a wide path to a promising future.

It exists as the most honest prayer I offer the world outside my tiny life.

It provides solid purchase for my flighty attention.

It inspires me to take the next step.

It helps me focus, be present, and find flow.

It relieves my anxiety.

It fits in my back pocket.

arrow-red-downWatch this video to see how it works.

Lookee here. The hammock is installed. Thanks, Dad!


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Leave a comment10 comments on "An Entire Life Plan on 17 3×5 Cards"

  1. No doubt about it, David. Your system is dead simple. And as someone whose mind and work is obsessed with all things simple right now, I appreciate that.
    I don’t want to discount the grand macro plan you have, but as a system/process guy, I think a lot about the “don’t want to let things fall through the cracks” card. Can you truly keep all the little things on one or two 3×5 cards? There has to be 100 more of those “little things” cards that we didn’t see in the video … right?

    • Well, Joel, the little stuff is actually a random collection of stuff that didn’t make it into project folders. You may have missed the video in which I explain Don’t Yet Lists that contain everything you are not going to do— grouped in project folders.

      Go here:

      • I remember you did a “Don’t Yet List” video, but I don’t remember the contents of it. Can I blame my leaky brain for that?

  2. It’s analogue AND minimalist. What’s not to like? I think the place where this system excels (and mine falls short) is in translating the long term planning (months/years) into the short term (weeks/days). I spent a number of hours planning my next year at the beginning of 2014, and probably haven’t looked back at my plan since I finished it. I’m thinking that I may need to adapt this system slightly (I’m really bad at carrying things around), but I want to do something like it. Is it against the rules to do a digital version?

    • I lost my favorite piece of productivity software. That’s really the only reason I’ve been forced to go analog. If you can really do this in software, fill me in. No wait, I’m actually working on that one to. Okay, Ethan, the race is on… Go!

    • Like Ethan, I’m good at making plans that I never actually look at again! I also prefer digital, though I do enjoy the physical feel of crossing something off a list.

      What I love about your system, David, is that it seems to be just the essence. My current system involves three notes in Evernote. The first shows all the projects I’ve decided are important to me and committed to (even if only to myself). They’re each associated with a higher-level goal I have for what I want to accomplish. Every month, I populate a second note that holds my month’s plan. It’s a slightly fleshed-out list of the steps I want to take toward some of my projects that month. Then, each week, I pull what I estimate to be a week’s worth of project-related tasks over into the third note, which is my weekly plan. That’s what I work from throughout the week whenever I have a work block.

      It works, but it gets kind of cluttered. I love how streamlined and focused yours is!

      (Also: the hammock looks awesome!!)

      • Thanks, Erin. I plan to nap in it this weekend.

  3. Thanks David! I love to see everyone’s techniques for making their top-level goals stay at eye-level. Lo-fi seems to work best for most people.

    • You make a great remark about Lo-fi. What makes low fidelity high powered, like lo-fi videos? I think it’s resonance and refinement. You can’t be sloppy about the resonance, even if the delivery is rough. Music makes a great case for that. Here’s one of the best examples of lo-fi.

      If you don’t have resonance with your life’s plan, if it doesn’t trigger something deep in your soul, lo-fi will just make it seem unimportant.

  4. This is great David 🙂 Being connected to and reminded of one’s larger goals is definitely something most people could use more of.

    I think I might do something similar, but put it into my iPhone, which I carry around all of the time.

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