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4 Ways That Gamification Can Change Your Life

4 Ways That Gamification Can Change Your Life

One commonality that binds us all is our endless pursuit of happiness. What “happy” means to one person surely differs from that of another. There is no single path to being happy and the road to a more fulfilling and joyous life is different for each and every person on the planet.

So what do video games have to do with happiness? Well, the truth is, it is what goes into creating the video games – the methods and techniques that hook users – that can be applied to real-world experiences that can dramatically impact your lifestyle and levels of happiness.

Welcome to the world of lifestyle gamification.

Yu-kai Chou is a gamification expert and the author of Actionable Gamification: Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards. Chou claims that “many students who neglect school and get in trouble all the time aren’t like that because they are dumb or dislike learning – they just don’t see the purpose of learning the subjects that are taught in class.” This very same logic can spread beyond the classroom and has no age limit.

Video games are much more than just stunning visuals and quality voice over work. Psychological traits possessed by all people are taken into account when creating video games. By touching on the eight core drives of gamification, Chou is able to brilliantly explain his theory of Octalysis, an in-depth framework that describes the different motivators humans share that can be influenced by gamification.

By applying gamification techniques and tweaking the approach taken to achieving certain goals and aspirations, people can find the focus that has slipped from their grasp.

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The power of gamification and your diet

Gamification can change the way you eat. By doing so, it can change the way you feel and ultimately, how you live.

Games are addicting for a reason. Games like Angry Birds and Temple Run leave players feeling like they must continue to get to the next level or break their previous high score. This comes at the risk of going to bed later than they had planned or putting off doing homework until the last minute.

Applying similar gamification techniques to your diet can be engaging enough for you to stay on track. Trying to stick to a strict regimen can be a daunting experience if you are looking to lose weight or eat healthily. The Paleo App is a great example of using gaming techniques to train folks to change habits for the better.

How does the Paleo App use gamification with its users? Being able to track your progress is a great start. This is where technology comes in handy. In the past, it would have been seen as strange and even discouraging for you to walk around with a notebook to track the intake of all food and beverage. Now that everyone is constantly buried in their phones, those close by will never suspect that one is cataloging their lunch – a concept that might be embarrassing to those starting off on their quest to weight loss.

Paleo also makes it so users receive rewards for small milestones. This breaks down larger goals into manageable steps that are less overwhelming and way more achievable – especially for those who are starting off and are more vulnerable when it comes to becoming derailed.

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The work life

SAP is a German multinational software corporation that is worth billions. They serve customers in almost every country on the planet and employ over 70,000 employees. While they had already found tremendous success, they were struggling to engage their community.

Laure Cetin, SAP’s community manager, decided to implement some gamification strategies into the SAP Community Network (SCN) to see if boosting participation and engagement would be possible.

Cetin said that by “using gamification and particularly the concept of missions (a series of actions needed to receive a badge and points), we wanted to encourage members to log in regularly, provide feedback, contribute quality content regularly and be recognized as topic experts and influencers.”

Just one short month after applying some of these strategies, community feedback had spike by nearly 100% and the overall action within the company’s social network had risen an astonishing 400%. Cetin’s intuition was right, and SCN grew to the point where it is receiving millions of hits per month.

Gamify your exercise routine

Like maintaining a healthy diet, many people struggle with staying on course when it comes to exercise.

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According to a survey conducted by Nielsen, the most common New Year’s resolution in 2015 was staying fit and healthy. People binge throughout the holiday season knowing that just around the corner comes a clean slate, a fresh new start where they will eat less and exercise more. Sure, the gym might be packed throughout the month of January, but it will clear out quickly as the days go by.

People have a very hard time staying motivated without seeing results quickly. But now there are many apps out there that reward users on their journey to getting in shape.

The Telegraph reported on Zombies, Run – a top-selling fitness game available. By putting runners into the shoes of people escaping Zombies, they feel more connected to their workout and are more likely to run more frequently. Instead of running on a treadmill listening to music, you are dropped into a chaotic, Hollywood-like film that will whip you into shape. When the zombies get close, you have to run like mad – interval training at its finest!

Adrian Hon, the creator of Zombies, Run, told The Telegraph that “a lot of people find exercise to be boring and repetitive, even with music. [Our app] can make running more exciting by putting you into a fictional world where you running really matters – so on a rainy Sunday morning, you’ll still be motivated to get up and run.”

Ability to learn new things

Back in the day, learning something complex like a new language was a formidable task. While learning a new tongue still takes an incredible amount of time, dedication, and perseverance, the process – when married with gamification techniques – can be a lot more fun for the users.

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Duolingo is the perfect example of gamified language learning and is now helping teach new languages to over 100 million people. Not only does Duolingo help make learning a new language fun, but it is helping translate the Web in the process.

According to Yu-kai Chou, the gamification of language learning is more effective with Duolingo because “as students learn a language, they earn skill points when lessons are completed or web content is translated. Lessons associated with a skill are successively completed when a given number of translations are completed. Since web content is inherently more interesting than “made up” sentences, the translation assignments are more engaging.”

Final thoughts

Gamification can be applied to numerous areas, meeting personal needs or addressing problems at the workplace. One thing about gamification that is certain is that it is complex. It is no magical cure-all that can be applied haphazardly and it isn’t something that will make overnight changes. To properly apply the methods and techniques to your own life or your business, it’s best to do as much research as possible and contact an expert that can help you achieve the most from gamification.

With technology that is constantly improving and the rapid growth of the Internet of Things, it is certain that gamification isn’t going anywhere. Learning as much as possible about this new field sooner than later can set you up for a better, more fulfilling life.

Featured photo credit: Gamification e via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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