Funny how random encounters can have an unexpected, drastic impact on your life. Or, in my case, on my Google Calendar.
Let’s journey back to a few months ago.
It’ll take a few minutes, but it’s all for the greater good of the story.
However, if you have to rush to work or you feel like your attention span is struggling between spending an extra 2 minutes on Medium and going back to your Instagram feed (or something a little more valuable), you can skip to “Part III — Gnocchis That Rocked My World.”
Part I — The gala monologue
One evening in early November, I found myself opening up to a total stranger at a fundraising gala dinner about my personal life after several glasses of complimentary champagne (or was it wine?) who, as it turned out, had just recently started studying to become a personal therapist.
‘FIX ME!!’ I told her, anxiously laughing while sipping on what must have been my sixth or ninth glass by that point. Considering how blurry some objects at our table were starting to look, it couldn’t have been less than five.
I was telling this lovely older… umm, more professionally experienced lady about my goals for 2020 and before I could even realize what was happening, the conversation became a monologue about my relationship with my mother and teenage struggles fitting in.
Not bad for a rookie therapist!
After much self-reflection talking through my problems like a true Millennial, I found a connection between how I taught myself English from watching Friends as a kid and how I lived life always feeling as if someone was watching and judging my every move. “Like the protagonist of a TV show,” she said. But it’s what she told me next that really struck a chord:
“Look kid. If you’re gonna look at your life as a TV show, you might as well make it a fucking comedy!”
She’s quite British that way :-)
We eventually hugged, I finished the glass(es) I had left, and we went our separate ways. The evening carried on, with her advice tucked away somewhere in the back of my mind.
Part II — Where’s your pineapple?
A month later, I flew back to France to celebrate Christmas with my family and visited my favorite local cafe/bookstore in Aix-en-Provence to pick up a few new books to dive into. One of those books was ‘The Art of Making Memories’ which gives you tips and tricks on how to create meaningful, fun, lasting memories.
It’s a great read and packed with cool little graphics. Meik Wiking is also pretty funny. I highly recommend it.
Among his tips, the pineapple on stage is one of my favorites:
“If you’re giving a talk, take a pineapple on stage with you. If you want people to remember you, you need to give them something to remember you by (…) When the conference is over, the audience will remember the guy with the pineapple. Of course, you have to inform people why you brought it on stage; otherwise that’s just weird. Or weirder than you’re going for. There’s a fine line between good weird and never-being-invited-back weird.”
This excerpt adds nothing to this story other than the fact that I love pineapples.
The last part of the book is actually where the hidden gems are (SPOILER ALERT!)
In that section, Meik shares his thoughts on how to plan a happy and memorable year by dedicating each month to a specific activity or task (he and I are on a first-name basis). For instance, make July the “launch of the Apollo picnic” by organizing one with your friends on July 20th — the day of the moon landing in 1969.
Giving your months quirky associations makes them even more memorable.
Which leads us to…
Part III — Gnocchis That Rocked My World
It’s January 1st, 2020. The first day of the year and a whole new decade. What you would think should start with an early morning run followed by a fresh cup of coffee and some journaling to plan out my next 10 years actually began with a massive hangover willingly yet regrettably collected a few hours prior, somewhere in Hong Kong.
I felt like the ‘Mayor of Struggletown’ that day, as my Australian friend Cara would so accurately say.
I struggled really hard — so hard, in fact, that I repeatedly told the two friends I was hanging out with how hard life was.
Or, more specifically: “Life is hard.”
As the three of us were sitting on my couch indulging ourselves with copious amounts of pizza, I joked about how we should name that day “Life is hard”. That’s when it hit me.
“What if we gave each day a name for a whole month?”
Waaaaaait a minute.
Making my life a comedy… Creating memories by associating times with specific activities… Giving each day a name… That’s it! I’m gonna give each day of January an episode name! Just like a TV show!
After reading ‘The Art of Making Memories’, I realized how absolutely crucial our memories are to living a happy, fruitful life and cherishing the moments we spend with friends, family, or by ourselves. I was also curious to test my own memory by associating each day with something specific that happened that day.
The plan was to give each day an “episode name” the following day based on whatever happened that day, and look back at my calendar at the end of the month as if I were flipping through pages of a “memory book” to see how vividly I would remember different moments from a particular day.
- I named January 17 “Gnocchis That Rocked My World” after having the best pesto gnocchis E-VER at a local Italian restaurant my friend sort of unofficially works at. I remember the drinks I had with a close friend and her mentor before I went to the Italian restaurant and remember our conversations about careers and investment strategies. Remembering this reminded me that this particular day was filled with external meetings, starting with an early morning coffee with someone I had met a week earlier at an event where she was the moderator, which I named “Nicole from Toronto”. Different people, different contexts.
- January 6 is “Ho Lee Fook”, named after the really great Cantonese fusion restaurant I met a few friends at for dinner. Nothing else fun actually happened that day.
- January 18 — “Why Is It Called Buffalo?”, named after the hike three friends and I went on that day up Buffalo Hill in Hong Kong. I remember being exhausted that morning after waking up at 6:30 AM to lead an outdoor workout and only getting 4 hours of sleep because I spent way too much time eating pesto gnocchis and drinking Spritz the night before…
- January 11 is one of my favorites and most vivid memories — “Funny Eye Candy”. That’s the nickname I was given by a friend’s lady friend, both of whom I spent an hour swirling around in the air with at aerial yoga (my first time trying). I remember taking my other two visiting friends from Shanghai on an early hike before going to aerial yoga because my yogi friend told me I was nuts to go hiking before trying this session out, and also remember having great Moroccan food for dinner later.
Part IV — What’s the takeaway?
First off, I amazed myself by how consistent I was throughout this whole process. Sure, there were a couple of days here and there that I would sometimes forget to give a name to, but by associating each day to something specific that happened, I was easily able to get back on track and give them their own episode title.
This didn’t just make it fun — it incentivized me to make every day memorable by either trying something new, exploring new places, reconnecting with friends, or saying ‘Yes’ to invitations or events I would normally say ‘No’ to and embracing the unknown. “Even if it sucks, I can probably use it as today’s episode title” (which ended up being the case for my company’s annual dinner… shhh).
How did I do it?
I kept it simple, easily accessible and visible.
Since I use Google Calendar a lot and already had different labels for different parts of my daily life, I color-coded a new one and named it “Naming My Days”.
For each day, I create a new “event” and set it to “all day” so it shows up at the top of the calendar and lines up perfectly with the rest of the week. I also try to add some descriptive elements of what happened that day in the “description” box if and when I ever go back to that day for a quick read and trip down memory lane.
It looks like this:
What started out as a fun joke and experiment on January 1st became a very powerful experience by January 31st.
It’s helping me train my memory by placing certain events based on a specific one I associated a particular day with, which is also helping me connect not just events within a day but 2 or more days as well.
The name goal will be to try and remember what happened in the span of two consecutive weeks based on the names I will have given each day in February, and soon after, a whole month.
Giving them quirky names makes it a little more fun and less serious. After all, “if you’re gonna look at your life as a TV show, you might as well make it a fucking comedy!”
And what a comic January it’s been.