Recently, I had a day in the office that went about as well as any day in the office can. Two interviews that I’d done went live, the internet went quietly nuts over something else I’d written, I asked a guy to be my best man (he came back with a heartfelt yes), broke my 10RM in the front squat, sorted out the plan for my fiance’s birthday, and every meeting, chat or discussion I had ended with a positive result. In between all that I got loads of work done, and at the end of the day I still managed to sneak in an hour of wrestling practice before going home and whipping up some basque chicken. As Ice Cube would say, it was a good day.
30 Rock, the greatest sitcom ever created, has a name for this phenomenon. Jack Donaghy explains it:
Making it through a full twenty four hours without a single misstep is called “Reaganing.” The only other people who’ve ever done it: Lee Iacocca, Jack Welch, and – no judgement – Saddam Hussein.
I would respectfully suggest that it’s not that difficult. Anyone can have a good day – the secret is having them more frequently. Here’s how I think you can do that:
Do the groundwork
I doubt you can Reagan without doing this. Most of my good days are the culmination of other stuff: things I’ve been putting in place for a while, or knowledge I’ve assimilated over a long, long time. This isn’t a quick process, but sometimes you just have to keep grinding, and have a bit of confidence that the work you put in now will pay off in the long run.
Hit the ground running
Having a checklist is the kind of advice that seems so obvious you’ll probably never actually do it. Every time I make a checklist, I’m amazed by how well it works, and yet I still don’t do it every single day. I should. Anyway, the best way to do this (that I’ve found) is to make a checklist at the end of your working day, with the most important task for tomorrow at the top – this clears your brain for wrestling (or whatever you do with your evenings), and allows you to come into the office (or wherever) and immediately get on with whatever that most important thing is.
Ride the momentum
This is the real secret of Reaganing: once you start, everything gets easier. Firstly, the feeling of ticking things off your list is addictive – this is a good reason to split any task into small, instantly actionable chunks that don’t require you to wait for anyone else. Secondly, this might just be me, but having a good day makes me feel bulletproof – and when I’m confident, I express ideas better, argue more persuasively and approach everything with a better attitude. Well, I think I do, anyway.
Pay it forward
The important one. If you’re having a good day, try to use the momentum to do something nice for somebody else. It’ll amplify the good feelings all round.
HOMEWORK: At least try the checklist thing. And watch the ‘Reaganing’ episode of 30 Rock: I defy you to not act a little bit more like Jack Donaghy. Anyone for a belt of Scotch?