A Lovely Genesis
I looked up into the clear, blue sky as the tartar sauce dribbled down my sun-kissed chin. We were sitting on steps overlooking the superyachts in Port Vell on the border of Barcenoleta. Park; beach; mojitos; friends; errands; fish and chips. There was nothing I would have changed about the day. Or the weekend for that matter.
At one point I looked to one of my friends, who we’ll call “Robert”, and said, “Robert, this has been a lovely day. Wouldn’t you agree?”
You don’t know Robert, but he had spent the better part of the morning nursing a hangover. He’s from Liverpool, loves his drink, and burns easily. But that’s not the point. The point is that he murmured in agreement, and in doing so, fanned my ego just enough to initiate this project.
Lovely. That word caught me off guard. The way it rolled off the tongue. How it sounded. Go on and say it out loud. “Lovely”. It brightens you up a bit, doesn't it? But I wasn’t just seduced by the characteristics of the word. It was also how it elegantly encapsulated how that day felt.
I was so pleased with myself that I entertained the thought of assigning a word to each of my days. How fun, my inner narrator professed!
Well, that’s exactly what I ended up doing. It just so happened that this epiphany had struck at the beginning of April. I bravely accepted the challenge to do it for the entire month.
Consider this a final warning before continuing, as I plan on diving into the nitty-gritty behind this little experiment and will spare no opportunity to praise myself.
You might be thinking: is it really as cool as he’s made it out to be? Will I be impressed by his display of discipline and ingenuity? Do I too have what it takes to assign a word to each my of days for an entire month?
Too early to say, so let’s move on.
A Peek Under the Hood
As the idea took shape, the first step was to define exactly what I was going to do and how I would go about doing it. This wasn’t going to be a scribble-on-a-napkin project. No, no, no my dear reader.
I was for sure going to have to use a few apps, sprinkle in an integration or two, and have it be synced across multiple devices.
So what would act as my digital napkin? My animal instincts pointed me towards my calendar. It made sense that my word of the day would be visible there. But then it dawned on me that creating calendar events in iCal is a nightmare that I actually would wish upon my worst enemy. So that was out. What about Excel? Would I finally go full tech bro and track my moods, meals, and sexual encounters in a spreadsheet? It was an option, but in the end, wasn’t accessible enough. Apple Notes also seemed too basic. I wanted something with a bit more structure. It needed to offer some customization and be available on any device. Which brought me to Asana, Notion, and Airtable.
After writing a bunch of now-deleted sentences outlining my brilliant cross-platform analysis, I came to the realization that this was at best incredibly boring and at worst self-masturbatory, even for my standards. Instead, I’ve opted to just tell you that I went with Airtable. It gave me the flexibility of a spreadsheet and allowed me to create a calendar subscription that would automatically send data to iCal. Each table entry would appear as an event in the calendar. Boom! I set a daily reminder that would trigger at 9 p.m. each night.
Millions will read this article but few will appreciate the refined sophistication of this setup.
Finally, a few ground rules. I decided that I wouldn’t be able to reuse a word. This would force me to choose wisely (having 15 “good” days would be pretty lame). Secondly, the word would have to be an adjective so that you could phrase it as “It was a ____ day” or “Today was a ____ day”. And finally, although the day would be given a single word, I still wanted to quickly recap the key highlights or happenings of the day to look back on and show the grandkids.
Ok. I’ve stalled long enough. Here’s a screenshot of my calendar with just my “One Word Reflections” account turned on.
There were a few bumpy days throughout the month. Sometimes work or personal life has a little turbulence. In my case, it was both. I had a few rough days at work where I felt frustrated with a recent product launch (April 14th • “Disheartening”) and temporarily lost my dog at the park, which was not only scary in the moment but the aftermath of which resulted in an argument with my partner (April 20th • “Unpredictable”). Deep breaths were taken, feelings were examined, and lessons were learned.
A lazy Saturday (April 14th • “Indulgent”) filled with sunshine, delicious food, and a few movies and an insanely productive Thursday (April 22nd • “Accomplished”) where I blitzed through design work, record label to-dos, and a laundry list of errands stood out as highlights. I’m most content after a day of complete relaxation or one where I move mountains.
Observations & Thoughts
Overall, my days were positive (22 out of 30)! This was nice to see. I tend to be mentally consumed by what I’m focusing on. This is especially true when I’m wrestling with an ongoing, work-related challenge. An otherwise great day can be overshadowed by this mania. The short recaps that accompanied each “One Word Reflection” allowed me to jump into a day and appreciate moments I might have otherwise forgotten or overlooked.
About halfway into the month, landing on the “right” word became increasingly difficult. Some days were just not that interesting. Finding a word that captured the essence of the day required digging into my completed task list and sifting through a thesaurus. But I’ll be damned if finally finding “the one” didn’t release the sweet, sweet kiss of dopamine.
Adam, I hear you saying. Are you really saying that it took you 20 minutes to arrive at words like “Fast” and “Sunny”?
Yes. I see now that some of the words that were selected aren’t terribly exciting or poetic. Pity. Perhaps it would have been easier had my partner, who is a writer, been more receptive to my pestering for help. Sadly, she had more interesting things to do.
We are all alone in this world.
So, what’s next? Will I continue with these “One Word Reflections”? Are you really still reading this? I decided to end the exercise after April to focus on a post-experience write-up. Passing up an opportunity to gloat would have been foolish.
Lol, yes, it took me four weeks to prepare and publish this article. But, this was fun. Perhaps later this year or the following I’ll do it again so I can compare, contrast, and enchant you once more.