So, after a couple of days things going well… I had a pretty shitty day productivity/diet/whatever else-wise. I ate junk food and didn’t complete any of my writing-related tasks. I was generally feeling pretty shitty, as I tend to beat myself up pretty badly when I fall short of my standards for myself. However, it happened to be that day when one of my favorite sites, NerdFitness, and Mr. Steve Kamb, posted this article, which happened to be just the thing to help me out of my mental rut.
Thing is, momentum is a cruel mistress. When you pick up speed from getting stuff done, working out, or just generally being awesome, it feels great, and soon you’re barreling through tasks like that boulder in Indiana Jones. But when you have a “fat” day, or don’t feel up to it, we often feel like the fact we’ve failed at something is a reflection on our own personal capabilities or worth. We start looking at failure as a noun, not a verb. But as the talented Mr. Kamb points out, it’s just one mistake. And, buckle in, bitches, because you’re going to have to get used to the fact that you’re going to make them over, and over, and over for the rest of your life. Because you’re human, and humans have an unequaled talent for finding new ways to fuck up.
But the great thing? The same exploratory instinct that lets us constantly go on adventures in screwing up is the same instinct that lets us invent new ways to get out of it, and take advantage of the resources available around us to do so. We just have to recognize that failure is an isolated incident, and has no bearing on the decisions we make afterward. Including the choice to shrug it off, and go immediately back to the drawing board to find out why we’ve messed up, and how to keep it from happening again.
To quote Bruce Wayne’s butler, Alfred, in Batman Begins: “Why do we fall, sir? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”
So, first, I picked up some lifting straps as was suggested on one of Jason Ferruggia’s most recent posts, and HOLY CRAP. It’s like I’m using those mass-cancelling magnet clamp things from the season 2 finale of Doctor Who. You never realize how much energy you use up JUST holding onto the bar until you don’t have to. I added an easy 20lbs to my deadlift (now at 265lbs), and a HUGE 40lbs to my barbell clean (now at 175lb 3RM), as well as bumping up my one-arm dumbell row weight another 10lbs each. They even help with pressing exercises, which I definitely was not expecting. It’s amazing how a change so small can make such a huge difference.
Gaming in Real Life
Second, upon advice from my counsellor, I’ve decided to start putting the unique traits about my geeky gamer mind to good use instead of constantly beating myself up about how I can’t motivate myself/learn in the same way many people do. Or at least, it’s significantly less effective if I try to. But. I love me some video games. So, I started constructing a to-do list using Evernote on my smartphone and making a checklist, with a few little extra challenges, effectively turning it into a quest-based reality game:
-I instituted what I call “Vetoes.” If you feel there’s a task you don’t think you’ll get done that day, you can use one of 3 Vetoes to cross that item off of the list, effectively pushing it until tomorrow. However, there is an achievement (more on those in the next point) for completing all tasks in a day without using a Veto.
-There are achievements for achieving all goals of a certain category in a day. Others for fulfilling additional “win” conditions for goals, and still more for completing every task on the Quest List. Here are some examples:
“Machine Man”: Complete all health and fitness-related tasks
“Time Lord”: Complete all timed/time management-related tasks in a day + log 5 or more hours of work into Toggl in that same day.
“Jack of All”: Complete all non-vetoed tasks.
“No Continues”: Gain the Jack of All achievement using no vetoes.
Credit to Jane McGonigal (because I haven’t praised her enough in this blog) and her book, Reality Is Broken, for providing the inspiration for trying this. It’s worked surprisingly well so far, and I plan on getting together with some of my game-design inclined friends to see if I can refine it further into something I can perhaps put out into the aether for others to use.
Anyways, I think that’s about it for now. Hope you guys enjoyed this and got something useful out of it!