Three Techniques Stolen From Gaming to Make Hard Work Fun

Your eyes spring open. Time to power up. This is the next level in your adventure. You step out of bed, announcing your daily gratitude to the world. +5 to inner peace. Walking outside into the sunshine, you don’t even have to exert willpower before your brain launches your fitness program, and you drop down into your morning burpees. +10 to strength.

After a morning meditation session (+15 to awareness), you take a look at the to-do list you laid out the night before (+5 to intelligence), and head off to work. You know the projects you need to complete today before you even get to your desk, so you’re able to jump right into it. +10 to flow.

Coming home from work, your first instinct is to hit the power button on the TV.

 

But wait, what’s this? A trigger!

Covering your power button is a post-it note that says “10 pages of reading”, your required cost to reach the TV reward. You end up reading thirty pages anyway. After you put the book down, doubt starts to creep in. All this hard work has made you exhausted (celebrate that!), and you begin to worry about all of the problems you still have to deal with tomorrow.

But you stop yourself. Because you’ve been practicing changing your internal language, you decide not to use the word problem: you say challenges, and you focus on solutions. You don’t just blow through to-do’s, you build skills. As you fall asleep, knowing you did your best today, you can’t help but feel excited to beat your high score tomorrow. Nice work, CNQR’r.

Games are fun, addicting, and powerful. And guess what? Life is the most complex and exciting strategic game ever played. Using techniques found in games like reward, novelty, and competition, you can shift your entire view of the world.

If you want to make hard work fun, avoid being trapped by stress, and maximize your short time on this amazing planet, integrate the following three gaming techniques you can start practicing today! Plus, we’ll introduce you to our #1 gameful living app pick, which makes this entire process effortless and organized.

 

1. Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

What is infinitely more important that how others talk to you is how you talk to yourself. Which one are you paying more attention too? All day long you have voices inside your head. You’re not crazy, you’re just a human being.

Step one is to build your awareness, so you can start separating your thoughts from who you actually are, deep inside. You can build your awareness by the powerful practice of meditation, or by our 7-day no complaints challenge.

Once you’re listening to yourself a little better, it’s time to take back control. When you feel negativity starting to brew in your head, shut it down. Talk back to yourself. Stand up for the positive side of what makes up you. Because of this article’s focus, let’s use gaming language. Each time one of these words pops up, swap it out with something a little more fun.

Exercising = Training
Problems = Challenges
Tasks = Quests
Hard Work = Experience Points
Projects = Missions
Negative Emotions = Traps
Frustrating People = Boss Battles 🙂
Failure = Leveling Up

Take some time to brainstorm how you can interpret the current challenges in your life a little differently. We shape our own reality, every single moment. You don’t have to get it right every time, just more times than getting it wrong.

 

2. Scoring Your Daily Game Plan

Before you can start gathering mind-body-life points each day, you need a game plan. One essential habit we recommend is building a to-do list the night before. You can do it from the couch, it’s no biggie.

Try building a to-do list chronologically, by visualizing the steps you’ll take the moment you get out of bed. Here’s an insider tip. Fill your to-do list with “micro-wins.” Put your daily shower or commute on the list, because it just feels so good to cross things off.

Additionally, it may be beneficial to add only three main quests to your list for today. There are steps to take in your mind-body-life journey that, if everything else fell apart, you would still make positive progress. Find those steps.

At the end of the day, take a look back and review. As you can tell from the introduction to this article, everything you accomplish can be scored and added to your experience points! If you choose to do these techniques manually, you can have some fun setting up your own customized scoring system and attributes you’d like to track. If you want to use the SuperBetter app we recommend, all of the scoring will be taken care of for you.

It’s seems simple, but this process is psychologically sound. We all love getting points, case closed. As you continue this scoring process, you may start challenging yourself to beat your daily high scores! Plus, looking back, it feels pretty cool to see you’ve added a thousand points to your awareness, or increased your physical strength by 500 reps. Upgrades achieved.

 

Here’s a great example of a chronological, win-filled, daily “quest” list.

Wake up at 8AM (+5 to Awareness)
30 Minutes of Exercise (+15 to Movement)
10 Minutes of Meditation (+5 to Awareness)
Healthy, Scheduled Breakfast (+5 to Fuel)
Morning Commute and Podcasts (+15 to Knowledge)
Three Essential Work Projects (+30 to Skills)
Healthy, Scheduled Dinner (+5 to Fuel)
Evening Entertainment (+5 to Contentment)
Scoring, Review, and Planning (+5 to Skills)

Make sense? Have some fun with this process! Each evening you have the opportunity to visualize and design your level for the next day. How challenging do you want it to be? Do you want an easier day to recharge you for a new mission later on, or do you feel like taking over the world? The choice is yours. If you don’t have a daily planner to create these lists, grab our Kaizen Journal. It’s custom built for this process.

 

3. Discovering and Replacing Triggers

Even if you can’t see them right now, there are patterns in your life. We all have them. You probably eat the same types of things over and over, take the same routes around town, and talk to different types of people in the same way.

Some patterns are great! Why would you take a new route to work every day if you’ve already found the best one? But some patterns aren’t so great, like instinctively turning on the TV the second you enter the house, even though you really have no interest in watching anything.

You can start to discover your own patterns by looking for triggers. The trigger for turning on the TV is walking in your front door. Because you’ve been improving your awareness, you now have the choice to change your programming.

 

The minute you feel the trigger hit you, try doing something drastically different.

When you feel the urge to smoke, walk around the couch as fast as you can ten times. Weird, right? And effective. With all the complexities of our brains, it can also be remarkably simple to override your urges. Give it a try for a week. (Here’s a full article with a cheesy name on triggers, actions, and rewards.)

One of our favorite strategies to keeping track of your triggers and installing new programming is to use post-it notes. You know how we all, for some reason, walk over the fridge, open it up, and grab nothing, four to five times a night? Maybe you place a post-it on your fridge door that says 25 jumping jacks. That’s your cost to open the fridge from now on.

You can get pretty clever with triggers, like blending hard work and rewards together. Try this one: as your Netflix episode ends, the credits roll, and the next intro starts, you’re doing a plank right next to the couch. Get creative.

 

Our #1 Gameful Living App Pick, SuperBetter

So, you’ve decided you’re ready to start playing the game of life. Whether you’re at square one or already a master of habit, it can be extremely fun and rewarding to use technology to help maximize your progress.

SuperBetter has been an excellent contender in the healthy living market for a while, and for good reason. The good news is, the SuperBetter team is launching a 2.0 version on IndieGoGo as we speak. CNQR is extremely excited for it, with our strong belief in the power of gaming as a wellness tool.

The face of SuperBetter is Jane McGonigal, award winning game designer, bestselling author, and star of one of the most watched TED talks of all time. She’s supported by the rest of the incredible SuperBetter leadership and development team. These are the kinds of people you should probably take advice from.

Here are a couple motivating screengrabs and feature outlines from SuperBetter, so you can see if this app is right for you and your goals!

SuperBetter Opening Screenshots

Power Ups

Some apps have a great system to help you keep track of your habits, but don’t provide you with the actual habits to keep track of! This can be frustrating for a mind-body-life beginner. SuperBetter provides you with both, including PowerUps, cool stuff you bust out right away for extra points.

Quests

Besides just mini-habits, SuperBetter has quests to help you conquer bigger challenges, just like our Campaigns. If you’re in a tough place, it can be so difficult to stay on track with much of anything. Having an app that gives you step-by-step instructions can be a literal lifesaver.

Allies

Never underestimate the power of an accountabilibuddy! Besides picking up a few face-to-face friends who can keep you honest, you can connect with other like-minded people on SuperBetter. In fact, this is one the features that’s going to be totally revamped in SuperBetter 2.0, and we’re pretty excited about that. Not everything has to be “social”, but self-improvement gets exponentially more effective with friends.

 

Your Action Steps

Alright CNQR’rs, let’s get to work. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, includes:

– Build your to-do list for tomorrow, tonight. Don’t worry too much about what specific metrics you are going to track yet, just start giving yourself points for conquering mind-body-life quests. You can calibrate later, once you’ve begun feeling the positive effects.

– Brainstorm one trigger in your life that urges you to make a poor decision. Next time you encounter it, surprise the heck out of your brain. Do something ridiculous, and start programming in a new action. If you can manage physical activity, something like push ups or walking the block seems to work best.

– Place one post-it note somewhere in your household, that puts an immediate cost on an immediate reward. Besides the TV, another great place is your bathroom mirror, which you’ll be looking at every single morning. Perhaps while you brush your teeth, you’re sending a text to a personal connection who needs some support. The home screen of your phone is another winner, with a giant message to just put the thing down if you didn’t have a task you we’re going to use it for.

– Check out SuperBetter 2.0 on IndieGoGo. They just launched a campaign, and it’s something we can get behind. If you can give financially, that’s your good deed for a day. If not, here’s a Tweet you can click to share right now that would help spread the word. It’s all of our responsibility to bring as much good into this world as possible. We’re right here with you.

Do good, be great. We’ll see you on the other side.

Leave a comment: We want to see your daily to-do list! You should get started as soon as possible, so why not right now, below?

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1 Comment

  1. Nic Vermillion

    Another app that I like to use is HabitHub.

    Reply

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