Organize Yourself in 2015–Gamify Your Goals


The fourteen chapter of Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy is called “Put the Pressure on Yourself.”   It deals with making sure you set deadlines for each of your goals in order to, as the title of the chapter says, put pressure on yourself.

However, I want to take a different approach and to label this “Gamify Your Goals.”   Gamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems and increase users’ self contributions.   It is being used increasing in team settings such as project management, but you can use it on yourself.

1.  Don’t Concentrate on Finishing a Task, Concentrate on Starting It!

One game you can play with yourself when you have a task that you are dreading to do because of its difficulty or complexity is not to worry about finishing it.   Tell yourself “today I will start the project, do only 30 minutes of work on it, and then quit for the day.”    You see, when you conjure in your mind the image of how complex the project or task is, you are tiring yourself out mentally.   But no matter how bad the task is, you can easily do half an hour’s work, can’t you?

So go into with gusto for half an hour–and then give yourself permission to quit.   Or continue, if you so feel like it!.

The reason is that once you start the project, if you decide to work hard on the task at hand for half an hour, you will find that you get are getting into the flow of the work.   Your first reaction will be, “hey, this isn’t so bad.”   And maybe, just maybe, you will get enough into the task that the momentum will carry you forward.

If it doesn’t, don’t worry.   You see, just the fact that you have already started it will give you a sense of accomplishment, so when you start forth the next day to continue where you left off, the “fear factor” will have greatly diminished, because it was essentially a figment of your imagination

2.   Stick First, Then Carrot

Let’s say there is an activity that you want to do and an activity that you must do that particular day.    Have the pleasurable activity as a reward that you give yourself, for 10-15 minutes, after you do a solid block of work on the task that must be done.    If there is an activity that you want to do that takes more time, like playing a video game or watching a movie then last that be the “end of the week” treat that you give yourself if you have done 5 solid blocks of work on the “A” level tasks during the week.   You will be associating the difficult tasks with the pleasurable sense you get from the reward.

However, you have to make sure that you really earn your reward and don’t cheat on the system!

3.  Badges

On the way towards your goal, there are milestones along the way, and even if there aren’t, you can create them in terms of “percent complete”:  25% done, 50% done, etc.    Make sure on your list of tasks that you have a column that says “DONE” where you can put a circle or checkmark next to the tasks that are complete.   Not only is it immediately satisfying to put a mark next to a task, especially an “A” or a “B” level one, once it is complete, but it serves at the end of the day as a retrospective instant review to see how many “badges” you have collected for the day.

And if you have a really good day filled with many “badges” earned, then brag about it:   on your Twitter account, your Facebook page, or your journal (I have a gratitude journal where I mark down if I am grateful for a particularly productive day).

The voice of achievement in the form of badges, rewards, etc., is an important matter to supply yourself with to keep up your motivation.   Some days you will fly like the wind; other days you may find forward movement like trying to run through water.   It’s on those days that your efforts to gamify your goals will really pay off.    It keeps you to keep on going!

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