Consistency is the key.
Anything that you want to do, is SO much easier and quicker to accomplish when you have steady, consistent action.
I know this. My clients know this. You probably know this.
So why is it so hard to do?
Last summer I was prepping for the Pan American Games for Masters weight lifting. I was focused and on point with both my training and my diet. We went on vacation to the beach in NC, out to dinner with friends and everything in between, I didn’t waiver. It wasn’t difficult, I just stuck with it.
My vision of what I wanted was bigger than the food.
So it wasn’t even an issue.
This winter it got cold (okay I live in Atlanta, but still, it was cold enough). I train in my garage and there were many days I went out, tried to get started and turned right around and came back in.
I didn’t have a vision for something bigger or anything to push me into staying focused and so my focus wavered. By January, I knew I needed to come up with some ways to increase my activity, even if it was cold, and get back on my schedule with my eating. If I didn’t, I would go right back to where I was and I’d worked too hard for that.
Maybe you are just like me.
You made some progress and then life got in the way, and your focused waned and now you are trying to figure out how to get back on the grind.
To have that same feeling you did when you were dialed in and on top of your game.
Life is just a bunch of seasons, and it may be that your season of uber focus is past, but it will come back around. You may now be in a season of work, or family or illness or some other greatness. But if you are missing that piece of what you had, how do you find it again and keep on going.
Here was my solution, and it’s something that I share with my clients as they get started and are learning how to focus and stay on top of their goals: Gamify.
Gamify. v: To adapt (a task) so that it takes on the form of a game.
To really understand gamification, it’s helpful to understand where it comes from and why it works. Remember when you were a kid and you were playing video games with a friend (or you’re my age and you were playing board games because Atari didn’t exist yet!), you were so focus and keyed in. Nothing could break your attention because you wanted to WIN.
When we have something to ‘win’ our brain chemistry changes. Our bodies release dopamine when we experience something that we like and when it’s over, our brains actively search for ways we can find something to give us that feeling again.
This effect is the same thing that jump starts your motivation when you have a race to run or a competition to compete in.
Let’s harness that to our advantage!
There are two types of motivation: Intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation.
- Intrinsic comes from your own specific interests and things that bring your joy.
- Extrinsic comes from motivations outside of yourself, like earning more money or losing weight.
To have the most success with gamification, we need to tap into our intrinsic motivation and give ourselves rewards with things that give us joy. Not the outside stuff, we have to really tap into the stuff that is specific to us and what gets us going!
Last summer I wanted to add running to my schedule. I’ve run a marathon before but let me just say, I don’t enjoy running. (understatement, really)
I’m a lifter.
I lift and I sit.
And then I lift again.
So to push me to run was a pretty big stretch.
I downloaded an app called Zombies, run! 5K Training.
In this app you listen to a story on your headphones and you move up different levels each day as you run and ‘complete the mission’. This totally tapped into my intrinsic motivation because I wanted to hear the rest of the story (enjoyable) and I felt successful (here comes the dopamine) when I finished the mission and got my badge for the workout.
I could then share on social media, for even more motivation and accountability.
Could I have added running to my routine without Zombie run?
Would I have run as long (I stayed to hear the story) or run on days it was yukky outside (I didn’t want to miss a day sharing on social media because people would know)? I promise you I would not have. I wanted to run and I had something to push me.
You can use gamifying in other areas besides fitness. Any place that you want to improve your results may be a great place to implement a game.
I use ‘Don’t break the chain’ on my phone and add projects each month as I want to focus on them. I recently was shooting for 30 days of ‘not breaking the chain’ of daily meditation. The idea is to do your activity one day, and then try and keep the streak going for as many days as you can without ‘breaking the chain’.
When we become consistent, we start making huge shifts in our progress toward goals. Click To Tweet
Gamification does not work for everyone and for every situation. You need to want to do the task to begin with, and it may not be the greatest for long term motivation, but an get you over the hump with some short term stuff.
If you have a competitive thread or even just like some friendly competition, gamifying may be just the thing to get you moving toward your goals.
I’ve got a huge downloadable list of all my favorite (and a few others that had great reviews) apps and ideas to gamify your life inside my resource library! Get it right here:
What do you think? Will you give gamifying a try? Let me know how it works!