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What Game Are You Playing?

How to increase goal achievement by turning it into a game.



When you are looking to set new goals for yourself, an important question to ask yourself is "What Game Am I Playing?"


When a goal is framed as a game, it increases our likelihood of achieving that goal by helping you:

  1. Pick the 'right game.'

  2. Identify how to win. What are the ground rules, and what does success look like?

  3. Find a way to keep score by putting a number to it to track progress.

  4. Build a consistent training plan strategy.

  5. Build your support team.


Over the next five weeks, I'll go into detail about each of these components and share tactics to help you identify what game you are playing and how to win your game.


First things first, let's talk about Picking the 'Right Game.'


Many times, we select a goal that we feel we MUST do. Perhaps we've tried to do it multiple times but failed. Perhaps it's something somebody told us we should do or that someone else is doing and we want to join in. Whatever the case is, if we don't WANT to do it, that's the first sign we will lose motivation quickly.


To ensure you are selecting goals that you want to do and that are meaningful to you, try one of these tactics to help you narrow down your goal(s).

If you don't have a clue on what you want to focus on, or if you aren't sure if you are playing the right game, follow these steps:


Step #1 - Look back to look forward


Look back over this past year, what meaningful accomplishments did you experience? Think through each month, what happened in that month that you accomplished, completed, built, established, connected with, etc. Consider any setbacks, what were you able to re-establish, re-connect, re-build, etc.


Step #2 - Identify Top 5


Of the items you identified in Step 1, circle the top 5 that you are most proud of. You now have new benchmarks to compete with yourself to improve upon. Can you one-up yourself? If you don’t have an item that you are most proud of, that’s ok, this is your year to create one, the next few steps will help.


Step #3 - Identify any gaps


Brainstorm time - are there any gaps in what you have identified as accomplishments and successes over this past year? Is there anything you wish you were able to do that you were unable to, for whatever reason? Answer these questions:


Now that I'm looking back,

  • I should have done_____________________.

  • I wish I had done ______________________.


Step #4 - Benchmark and look forward


Looking forward, what would you like to accomplish by the end of the year? Consider your Top 5 accomplishments, do you want to repeat or beat any? Look at your gaps, do you want to focus on any of those? What other goals do you have in mind?


Step #5 - Make it sticky


For a goal to stick, you must see and feel the meaning and value of it. Look at your list in Step 4, read each item again. As you read them, pay close attention to your reactions. If any item feels immediately boring, uninspiring, unmotivating, or feels too much like an obligation that you 'should' do, put a mark next to it. Another way to think about it, if you feel like rolling your eyes at any of your items, put a mark next to it. While you could focus on those items, they will not capture and sustain your full motivation and you will lose interest in accomplishing it as a goal. Identify the items that are most interesting to you.


Step #6 - Narrow your focus


Now it's time to narrow your focus and identify what one game you want to play. Look at the remaining items on your list. Answer the questions below and circle one item from your list.

  • If I only had time to do one thing, which would I select?

  • Which do I see as the most important, most valuable to focus on?

  • What’s the one thing I want to accomplish the most?


Complete these brainstorming steps, and next week, I'll provide tactics to help you build your ground rules and determine what success looks like to you.


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