Personal Gamification: Get what you want

When we talk about gamification, we usually think about ways in which it can help our business or our team. But we rarely think about how it can help us. And it can.

Following the same principles, gamification can be applied on a personal level. Say you have some tasks that are bugging you or you want to develop some good habits. Starting is always easy, you do some research, map out a little plan and there you have it. You’re already on your way to becoming fit or more productive or accomplishing whatever personal goal you have.

But, as it usually happens, we get demotivated fast. We lose interest, we start thinking about how long it will take, how demanding it is and ultimately we give up. Now I’m not a neuroscientist, but I believe that this happens because of a simple reason: our brain will do anything to help us relax, right to the point where it will work against us.

I saw this amazing TED talk in which the speaker said our brain has two ways of dealing with everything: autopilot and emergency break.

Autopilot is when we do our normal routine. Wake up, brush your teeth, make some breakfast (or skip it), go to work, come home, have dinner, wash the dishes, watch a movie, and go to bed. Then wake up and repeat.

Emergency break is when we try to escape our routine for personal goals. Become more productive, get fit, learn something new, start a new hobby, etc. The brain will do everything in its power to stop you from breaking the routine and doing something new. So, you’re bound to fail. Unless you can motivate yourself enough to overcome your brain’s influence and control it, rather than letting it control you.

Think of it as a game where you have this evil villain who is trying to control you and make you do his biddings and you, the hero, are desperately trying to break free of his control and overpower him. Fun, right? But how do you break free?

Well, you could use your superpower: gamification. Gamification brushes all that away and makes the experience far more fun and engaging. How? By changing the story and your perspective over it.

Rather than thinking about all the annoying parts, you start focusing on the benefits. That’s why you started thinking about picking up a new hobby or becoming fit or more productive in the first place, isn’t it?

Gamification involves unlocking virtual achievements, gaining experience, bonuses and acquiring the resources you need to defeat the evil villain and save your world. And the best part: there’s an app for that! Or more like a bunch of apps.

You’re not alone in your quest. Many brave heroes must face the same exact challenges you are facing. And some of them use the power of gamification to defeat the evil Master Mind. Your sidekick, Mr. Smartphone (everyone is smart in this story) holds the knowledge to unlocking the power of gamification. All you need to do is to go to the App Store or Google Play and browse for apps that gamify the process that you need gamified.

Or, if you’re the more creative type, you could simply gamify the process yourself, which is much more fun in my opinion, because there’s no limit to your imagination and you can create your own story with your own rewards. It is harder though.

Gamification can be applied to personal goals because you are also human, no different than the humans you want interacting with your business.

Let’s take an example:

Say you want to become fit, a popular goal amongst many of us. There’s an app called Zombies, run! that’s a perfect fit for your needs. The story is that a zombie apocalypse is upon us and you’re running to one of humanity’s last remaining outposts. You gather supplies, rescue survivors and defend against the zombies. All by running!

It’s a great way to stay motivated, because you’re not running to stay in shape, you’re running to save what’s left of the world. Someone needs medical attention so you run to find a medical kit. You need wood to build some defensive fences, so you run to gather wood and building equipment. You gather all of these and build a zombie-free base.

Why it works:

Simply put, because it gives meaning to your running and you feel the changes far sooner than if focusing on staying or getting fit. To see real change from running, some time needs to go by. Time that usually makes you give up or run rarely which amounts to not much desired change.

But with this app, you start wanting different changes, which are easily obtained. “I need wood for fences. I’ll run 30 minutes and I’ll get the wood”. So you go and run 30 minutes. And each day you’re building a bigger, better base. So you keep on running.

The app also helps you to actually run the desired time. Rather than planning 30 minutes and running for 15 and giving up, from time to time you’ll be chased by zombies. When that happens, you either run or you get eaten by zombies. And nobody wants to fill a zombie’s belly.

DIY (do it yourself):

If you don’t feel like using an app or you feel it’s not motivating enough, make your own story! Be the hero you want to be in the story you want. Offer yourself the incentives and rewards you need to keep on going.

For instance, rather than just going to the supermarket and buy a beer, earn your beer. You will go and buy if and only if you run for 30 minutes today. If you don’t, you don’t get beer. But if you do, your reward is to enjoy a nice, cold beer, feet up on the sofa.

Gamification can be used to motivate yourself to do anything. Chances are there’s an app out there that can help you with it. And if not, you can always help yourself.

What are some of the personal goals that you struggle with?