March 14, 2017

It's So Wrong but It Feels So Wrong

Last year the Fifth Letter staff created four seasonal calendars, printed beautifully by Bryan Hutcheson at National Letterpress Company. Each calendar was mailed to friends and featured three obscure holidays, one for each month. While researching the holidays to include in my season (summer), I was amused by how many “holidays” there are. I use the word loosely because apparently a holiday can be created by just about anyone for just about any reason and any given day can have anywhere from seven to 50,000 holidays assigned to it.


Nevertheless, we should not take for granted that tomorrow, March 15th, is Everything You Think is Wrong Day. This is a day that should be observed by everyone. Trust me, I’m usually right about this sort of thing.


I will admit that despite my exhaustive research (Google) I have not been able to find the origin of this day and have found several different explanations for what it’s supposed to celebrate, from a day created to avoid making decisions once a year (Why bother? You’ll only be wrong anyway!) to a day when know-it-alls have to deal with the fact that they do not know everything (Gasp!). But I believe there is a far more constructive way to observe this day.


I’ve noticed recently that when I get into my car my phone syncs with my car stereo and Google pops up on its screen, without any prompts or requests by me, with an estimate of how long it will take to get to my destination. Perhaps more alarming than the fact that Google knows exactly where I am and that I’m getting ready to go somewhere, it’s usually roughly 90% accurate about exactly where I’m going. Has my life become so unsurprising that a computer algorithm can predict my daily activities without me even asking it to?


Yes, it has. And this is sad.


What does this have to do with Everything You Think is Wrong Day? Everything.


They say the average adult makes upwards of 35,000 choices in one day. If your choices are based on what you think and if what you think is wrong for this particular day, then what you choose to do would also likely be wrong. One could reason that if you do the opposite of what you think you should do on this day, then that would be right. But you would be wrong because this is not Opposite Day, it’s Everything You Think is Wrong Day. So, if everything you think is wrong and, therefore, all the choices you make are wrong than you may as well have a little fun with it, right?


Think about how many decisions we make automatically, either out of habit or using “logic” (as in — of all the “right” answers to this question, this is the “most right” — kind of logic.) If most of the choices I make in a day are purely out of habit it’s no wonder that some computer somewhere out in the ether can predict with 90% accuracy what I am going to do next. Perhaps Everything You Think is Wrong Day should be a day to evaluate the decisions we make everyday. What time will I wake up? Will I wash my hair first or brush my teeth first? What will I eat for breakfast? What will I wear? What route will I take to work? Where will I park? How many cups of coffee will I have? Will I work through lunch? What will I eat for lunch? You get the idea. And those are just minor decisions, ones we would expect to answer on autopilot. “Well, this worked yesterday. No sense it giving it much thought. Doing the same again today will work just as well.” No big deal.


But what about the big decisions? Certainly the decisions we have to make for new problems take more consideration, weighing the pros and cons, lots of research, etc., but perhaps we make more of those decisions out of habit than we would like to admit. How many projects do we begin following the same process we used yesterday for a different project because “Well, this worked yesterday. No sense in giving it much thought. Doing the same again today will work just as well.” That is a big deal. If we rarely take the time to consider how appropriate or outdated our process is, we end up ten years in the future using the same strategies, techniques and processes — because they’re better? Or because they’re habit.


Tomorrow I encourage you to rethink as many choices as you can. Have lunch for breakfast, dinner for lunch and breakfast for dinner. Dress in something that you’ve never worn to work before. Take a different route to your job or school, not because it’s faster but because it’s different. Or take the bus! Skip the coffee and drink some tea (there’s more caffeine!) and so on and so forth.


Shake up your meatier decisions too! Have a meeting while walking through the park. Prioritize your projects differently. Share your problems with someone outside your company — who can look at the issues you face with a fresh set of eyes and a new perspective. Get your creative team involved in the planning stages of your project instead of tacking them on at the end. Complete your to-do list backwards. Or don’t use a to-do list at all! Does this all feel wrong? Good! That is what tomorrow is all about.


And, if all of this “wrongness” puts you on edge, good news! Thursday is Everything You Do is Right Day.

Photo of Jan

Jan Badger, Shape Shifter at Fifth Letter, is handy when you want to start a fire and fills many roles including making sure projects deliver on time and on budget. Contact Jan to learn more about her Project Manager Mastermind Group at