By this time, we have secured our calendars for 2011. Those who prefer paper have made that trip to the office supply store for a duplicate of this year’s model or a chance to select one that may be an improvement. Those who organize digitally have all future years available. But this post is not about paper versus digital. It’s not even about what may be on the calendar for the coming year. It’s about what is on the calendar for the year which now becomes history.

What will happen to that calendar? If it is made of paper, will in go in the trash can, or will it find a permanent place on a bookshelf? Of what value will it be in the future?

I firmly believe the types of things which go on a calendar for the future are not the same as those which adorn a calendar from our past. The calendar for tomorrow houses every entry about where we are to be and when, regardless of the lasting value of that appointment. If we are supposed to be somewhere, then we are supposed to be there, and the calendar is the trusted friend that takes the responsibility for keeping up with it.

Look at your calendar from 2010. If you are like most people, it is a patchwork quilt of things that mattered and things that really didn’t. When the significant is hidden amongst the insignificant, the calendar from the past has little value.

At the end of every day, I ask myself the question, “How did you make today count?” That one question stares me in the face every evening. That one question forces me to think back over the events of the day and be honest about the way I used a very special gift. That one question helps me focus and compare how my day was spent in contrast to the vision I have for the future. The answer to that question goes on my calendar. From a mechanical standpoint, the question appears as a daily repeating task on Outlook and my BlackBerry.

What about the mundane entries on the calendar that I would not care to see again? I erase those, so that what is significant stands out. Please do not get me wrong. I am very much in favor of keeping records and documenting those events and conversations should I have to produce such information. I have written documentation on that sort of thing and the use of a digital “table of contents,” described in both books, so that I can put my hands on it years later.

My calendar for the past serves as a sort of “mini-diary.” It also serves as a compass.

How did you make today count? It is a sobering question indeed, at least for me. Perhaps the knowledge that I am going to have to answer that question when the day ends works on my subconscious from the time the day begins.

As we begin a new year, I ask you to “fast forward” to the end of it. What will the calendar for 2011 look like when we usher in 2012? Will it be a reminder of the trivial pursuits of the past year? Or, will it be a story of how you took 365 special gifts and turned as many as possible into gold. I invite you to join me in a daily journey to ask yourself:

How did you make today count?