Quite Possibly The Nerdiest (And Most Fun) Way To Track Your Goals

old habits die hardChances are that on January 1, you made some resolutions for the new year. And chances are by now you’re starting to forget about them, or at least they’re frustrating you.

We all do it. I’ve done it too. One of my issues with keeping goals is I never learned how to follow through. For things like fat loss that take time, there wasn’t enough motivation for me.

We look at a pair of jeans or a picture of when we were younger and thinner and think things like “if only I wasn’t fat, I’d be happier.” So we hang onto that emotion and try to get motivated by it. It works for a little while, but then cravings kick in and this vision we have for ourselves that’s far out in the distance isn’t enough to keep our hands out of the jar.

Unhealthy feelings about body image and food notwithstanding, the thing missing from it all is incentive.

Incentive needs to be more immediate

Some people can just flip a switch, be done with the nonsense, and 10 months later find that they’ve lost 100 lbs. I’m not like that, and I’d wager you’re not like that either (otherwise you probably wouldn’t be reading my blog – but if you are like that, please send me an email).

Other people can get sufficient motivation by placing pictures of what they want to be around their house. That really only starts to depress me after a while, so I’m not like that either.

It’s just such a long process, losing 20, 30, 50, 100 lbs of fat.

I don’t know about you, but I need more incentive than a picture of an idea that I won’t realize for another year.

Get your hit right away

Let’s think about this in terms of food. Why is it that we can do really well, then we have a bad day and find our face filled with cake? We know it’s because of a dopamine response, sugar hijacks our brain and makes us feel good for a few minutes.

We like it, so we do it again and again. Eventually it becomes a habit. Our incentive for eating the cake is to feel better, and it happens right away. If we weren’t going to feel better for another week, we’d probably be able to avoid eating it and stay on plan.

So then how can we get hits right away and start changing the bad habits into good ones?

A gamer’s delight

I used to play video games a lot, and I like a good RPG.

A few weeks ago some coworkers stumbled upon this website called HabitRPG. It took me a minute to get into, but I’ll tell you it’s really fun, and it’s really useful.

If you’re not the type who would get a kick out of building up a character, gaining experience, and picking between Warrior, Mage, Rogue, and Healer, and going on quests with your friends, then maybe this isn’t for you.

But if any of that sounded slightly awesome, you better keep reading.

Using a game as incentive

The game involves keeping track of habits and tasks, and as you complete them you get experience points, gold, and occasionally you find eggs and hatching potions to turn into pets and eventually mounts.

There are three categories of things you can check off: habits, dailies, and to-dos. An example of a habit is, say, getting 15 random minutes of exercise or drinking a bottle of water. Some days you might drink two bottles, so you can check that off twice. A daily would be something like getting 30g of protein for breakfast. You’ll only do it once a day, so it’s not a habit in that sense of the word. To-dos are just that – I keep my list of honey-dos there, for example.

Why does it work?

This is me. I'm a level 28 healer, I ride a white dragon, and I have a red bear as a pet.

This is me. I’m a level 28 healer, I ride a white dragon, and I have a red bear as a pet.

This is why I say you kinda have to be into games to like this. As you accumulate experience and gold, you can level up and buy different pieces of equipment. Once you get to level 10, you can pick a class (I’m a healer) and become an apprentice.

As you continue to build habits, you continue to level up and get more gold and silver. I’ve never gone more than a week without leveling up, and who doesn’t like to level up?

When you don’t do one of your daily tasks, you take damage. You can also set up habits to either give you gold and experience for doing it or deal damage to you for not doing it. For example, I have a habit of “avoid eating crap”. If I see a pile of cookies but I’m able to walk away from them, I tick it off and get some experience and I feel good for having done so. If I eat one, I have to take some damage.

So the acts of finding gold, hatching pets, and leveling up is enough incentive for me to want to do my activities. The thing is, we know that when we follow slow-carb the right way, we’ll lose fat. But when you turn it into a game, you’re just playing the game. You’re not thinking about what you’ll look like in a year. But before you know it, the lifestyle you’ve been trying to develop is your new lifestyle.

Make it a party!

Where HabitRPG really becomes a good time is when you can do it with others. A few of us from work are in a “party”, and we can go on party quests where you need to work as a team in order to survive. In a party quest, if your teammates don’t do all their dailies, the whole team takes damage. We call that “accountability”.

You can also join guilds for a variety of interests. I’m going to be starting one for 4 Hour Body followers, so I’d love you to be in it! Guilds have their own challenges, so for example I could set up habits, dailies, and tasks that are related to the 4 Hour Body, and if you join the guild you can join the challenge. If you are a part if HabitRPG, let me know and we can talk about the guild!

Wrapping up

I really enjoy being a part of HabitRPG, and I’d really recommend it if you’re into gaming and have some habits you’d like to start building. The immediate hit of incentives (and the fear of taking damage) has been really useful in helping me stay focused.

Head over to their site to check it out to see what it’s all about. Then leave a comment here when you sign up so we can find each other in Habitica!

If you’re not into gaming, what are ways YOU are able to incentivize yourself enough to see positive changes? Talk about it below!

image by marsmettn tallahassee

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Comments

  1. Rusty Haley says:

    Let me know when you build the guild. I am in.

  2. Rusty Haley says:

    Cool. Thanks. I am a brand new RPG player so be gentle with me 🙂

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