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March 6, 2024

Games Not Goals

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Goal setting is a huge topic that is a cornerstone to personal development. But just because it’s so central to the conversation doesn’t mean there’s only one way to talk about it, and I think adding perspective to how we look at goals helps us find our own right relationship with them.

Recently I’ve been trying to play more games in life and I’ve been having fun changing my approach. When something is a game, it creates a frame that allows you to step into it and causes you to show up differently than you normally would. 

So what if we started playing games instead of setting goals? The objective doesn’t change but the way you pursue it does.

Instead of having a goal to get in the gym 3 times this week, what if you played a game to get into the gym 3 times this week?

Instead of having a goal to complete a certain project, what if you played a game to complete the project?

Instead of having a goal to not hit the snooze button, what if you played a game to not hit the snooze button?

Setting things up as a game does a few important things. First, as mentioned earlier, it changes your energy toward it. Instead of being something you have to get done, it’s something you want to get done. It’s the difference between ‘playing to win’ and ‘playing not to lose’.

Second, and this is big, is it naturally causes you to plan and strategize.

So often with goal setting we stop our process after we determine the goal. The goal is only helpful if  it guides your behavior that’s to come. This is more assumed in a game. You know you can’t just want to win because you play... You need to think about how you’re going to win. So seeing goals as games naturally takes us into the critical process of creating strategies and plans that support us in achieving a result.

Goals are just the beginning to the goal-achieving process. Games give you insight into how to win and what you’re going to do to win. And especially if your goal is something that is important to you but the act of doing it doesn’t inspire you, making it a game helps you change your perspective and kick into gear a little more.

So is there one thing you’ve been struggling to be consistent with or to get yourself to do? Play a game. It could be a one minute, 30 minute, 3 hour, 5 day, or 6 month game. The game doesn’t matter as long as it gets you to start playing.

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