The 5 Choices: The Path to Extraordinary Productivity by Kory Kogon, Adam Merrill, and Leena Rinne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars (it will probably be more three stars in the long run, but I gave it an extra star because it exceeded my expectations)
Inevitably the first question people would ask me after I’d mention this book was, “Why are you reading this again?”
It’s an interesting question. Because as a homeschooling, not-gainfully-employed parent, I’m not really the target audience for a book from our friends at Franklin Covey.
Truth is, I started reading this book by accident.
I went online to buy myself a new Franklin Planner, a smaller, wire-bound weekly planner to carry me through mid-2016 that wouldn’t weigh me down like the ring-bound planner I’ve been toting around (or more often leaving at home because it’s so big and I’ve got enough to carry with me with two young children in tow). The style I liked was called “The 5 Choices” and the description said it included worksheets to help me implement The 5 Choices.
What the heck was The 5 Choices?
I looked up the book just to make sure I’d be able to use the planner even if I didn’t read the book. And now here I am.*
Originally, I wasn’t going to put this book on Goodreads or write about it on my blog. I unofficially swore off of self-help books, and while one could argue that this is more of a time-management book, it’s really self-help. Although I said I wasn’t going to read self-help books anymore, I figured that if I kept it a secret and didn’t log it and didn’t get it in actual, physical book form (I checked it out electronically from the library), then it didn’t really count.
It was a decent—if self-deceptive—plan that worked as long as I could keep myself from talking to anyone about the book.
But I couldn’t keep myself from talking about the book.
Because it’s a good book, or at least a book of good ideas arranged in an accessible format. There’s some repetition, some over-simplification (case-study Kiva pulled herself together pretty dramatically after reading The 5 Choices), and some big assumptions about the types of jobs people reading the book have, but I expect that sort of thing from the genre, and it didn’t bother me that much.
As a veteran of Franklin Covey programs from my days in the corporate world—and a devotee of Franklin Planners despite the ease of use and sync-ability of online calendars—I didn’t actually find much that’s new in The 5 Choices. There’s the familiar Time Matrix and the Four Quadrants and the Big Rocks and the terminology that sounds comforting in my head but makes people laugh when I say it out loud. But the information is arranged in such a way that it feels new, or at least in such a way that I could see ways to address energy and stress in my life that I didn’t before I read this particular book. It got me thinking in different directions.
And while it’s kind of cheesy, the suggestions for how to manage energy and reduce stress are good ones that I’m already applying to my daily life, like having the kids and me take walks or play outside for a few minutes between homeschool lessons that involve a lot of sitting still so we can get our brains up and moving again and not get burned out. I’m not sure yet whether these ideas will have staying power or make a big difference, but they’re small changes that feel empowering to me right now so it feels low-risk.
I was so relieved that there’s no Mission Statement assignment in The 5 Choices. Coming up with inspiring names for my Q2 Roles and thinking of what Extraordinary Outcomes for each role would look like almost overwhelmed me with cheesiness; Mission Statements would have pushed me over the edge.
It occurs to me that I don’t have a clue who else would find this book useful. I’m sure someone would, but would they have to have a background with the 7 Habits or other Franklin Covey ideas? Would others be willing to wade through the rah-rah cheerleading that peppers the book (and is concentrated in the first couple of chapters) to see the good stuff? I’m old enough to know that I have no idea what will resonate with other people, so while I found it helpful, I won’t venture to guess who else might like this book.
*And yes, I do see the irony that a Q3 rabbit hole led me to this book.