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Stay Focused, Play Games

OK, so you’re in the groove and doubling down. For a short while, you have to give all you have to your goals and then some.

Your brain won’t like this. It will complain about sleep and leisure time. It will want to return to the status quo.

To keep your mind focused, there are some little mind games you can play on yourself. They’re not complicated or tricky. They don’t need to be.

One Day at a Time

Your mind will keep want to peek at the horizon, wondering when things will go back to normal. Even if your personal strengths involve being a global thinker and long-term planner, this just isn’t the time for contemplating things in the distance.

At this point, you are implementing plans you have debated, investigated, and decided upon. You know that because you’ve committed these plans to paper. This here and now is about the daily grind, the specific actions and tasks each day to move you toward your goal. These are actions and tasks you have already determined from a place of knowledge and insight. This is not the time for remaking decisions and rethinking philosophies. This is the time to get your daily to-do list done before you go to bed each night.

Gamify Your Intensity Push

Do you know why McDonald’s keeps bringing back that Monopoly marketing scheme? Because it works. Why buy a bag of fries when you can buy fries and a chance at riches?

There’s no need to be super-creative about your own game (unless you enjoy that sort of thing, though don’t spend too long on it regardless). A game is simply rule-guided play with a reward for winning.

You know your daily goals. Achieving a goal is a win. At this point, you’ll be happy to receive a reward or two you’ve been denying yourself, like an evening in front of the TV, a movie with friends, or maybe just permission to do absolutely nothing for a few hours.

Your game has to be straightforward, easy to understand and track, and offer a legitimate, measurable (i.e., finite) reward.

You might want to make an actual board for your game (perhaps one based on your visualization board). Or you might use the wide variety of online apps, software, and communities to build a virtual gaming environment. This might seem like a waste of time, but having an actual game to refer to can be a wonderful motivation to keep going when you find your spirits sagging.

Carrot & Stick

All this is just a way to build on the simple motivations of the carrot (reward) and stick (punishment). If you don’t achieve your goals, your true punishment will be failing at your new life plan. But contemplating that kind of failure daily can be discouraging. Likewise, your true reward is being successful and living this new life that you want. But contemplating that sort of success can seem too distant.

Gaming reward/punishment is much less intimidating and much more immediate. Use the human brain’s propensity toward instant gratification to keep you on course.