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Role 3d6 for Personal Development

Role 3d6 for Personal Development

Any oldschool Dungeons and Dragons readers get that reference? If not, here’s my basic premise: view your personal development like you would character development in role playing games.

  • Capabilities- Some things you are born with, and others can be trained. For instance, strength can be developed to certain end points, but intelligence is something that one possesses a certain degree of, regardless of training. Training becomes more of a skill or toolset, taking advantage of your baseline intelligence. (Do we agree, or do you dispute my characterization of intelligence? – If you disagree, skip it and come back later). Other capabilities can be grown somewhat, like developing your endurance, etc.
  • Skills- Skills are things you learn, such as communication, interpersonal relationship tactics, how to build a LAMP stack repeatably. Skills are an area where you can focus a lot of effort, because they often have a direct reward for advancing your abilities. Learning a second language adds to your potential revenue value. Learning how to appreciate and interact with your family builds emotional strength and good will. Skills are a great area to target.
  • Equipment- Another constant in most role playing games (from paper and card-based games up into World of Warcraft) is the trusty old inventory concept. Do you have armor? Do you have a sword or a dagger? Would a lockpick be useful to you? Stretching this analogy out into personal development, equipment can become: laptops and smart phones for portability, special software to handle scheduling, budget, repeatable tasks, a portable media player to receive learning and information (like the Life Hack podcast).

What if you took your current situation and put it down on paper as if you were a character in a somewhat boring role-playing game? (Let’s face it: Office Wars isn’t a likely replacement title for City of Heroes). How would you characterize your capabilities? Are there any you should consider developing? What skills do you possess? What kind of equipment do you have to do the work at hand?

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When you have it all written down, take a look at it. What kind of character are you? How do you stack up against other people in the same game? What capabilities, skills, or equipment could you further develop to build your success rates with your current game?
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Write down a list of different “games” that you’d want to consider playing. Maybe you’re in software design, but believe you want to start up a company. Does your “character sheet” match the game? What skills should you add? How about in the crossover game of work-life balance? Do you have the skills required to make that all work?

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Use this new list matched to your existing list as a framework for development. Do you need some basic business skills to augment your career track as a software developer? Would learning about financial models help you manage your new team of colleagues in Vietnam, Bangalore, and Oklahoma?

Viewing your statistics as if they belong to a character in a game is a way to try and expand our vision of the situation we’re in. It gives you a sense of your world in a somewhat more manageable shape. From here, you might be able to consider permutations and variations. You can consider whether your French language classes, while interesting, are relating in any way to the things you need to better navigate your life and your career.

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Does this work for you? Should I roll a saving throw versus “bad analogy taken too far?” Choose your own adventure.

–Chris Brogan used to be a dungeon master. In ways, his project management career mimicked that experience. Now, he writes at [chrisbrogan.com] and develops content at GrasshopperFactory.com

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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