Work as a Game

If you play any sort of game, (And yes, solitaire counts!) then you know the basics of competition:

1. You have a goal.

2. There are obstacles to achieving your goal.

3. To win, you must navigate the obstacles and reach your goal.

What do you think work is?

Author Chin Ning-Chu in her book, Do Less, Achieve More, observes:

The human spirit loves games of tough competition. Our life’s encounters are identical to our competitions on the sports field. The only difference? We think of one as a game and the other as “reality.”

One of my workshop participants told me she loves going to casinos to gamble. After hearing me talk about turning work into a game, she decided to apply the concept to one of the more tedious aspects of her job–research. Instead of looking for data, she looks for “jackpots”–locations where a large amount of the data she needs resides instead of in bits and pieces. When she “hits the jackpot,” she wins the game.

When she first told her boss, “I just hit a jackpot,” he was concerned. He thought she was gambling online at work and might need counseling!

Whenever I turn my own work into a game, I accomplish much more. Here’s how to do it:

1. Decide on the goal.

A game can be set up based on the project in front of you, on what you hope to achieve within the next hour, or even the whole day.

When I feel ambitious, I target three goals for the day. If I achieve all three, I go home happy, knowing I have won. At other times, I will pick a single task: for example, cleaning out my email Inbox in a race against the clock. If I reduce my messages to fewer than 10 before time is up, I win.

2. Choose the prize.

I love to read. So, I choose as my prize time to read a chapter of the book I’m currently into. If I score extra points (by achieving my goal with time to spare, or by getting my emails down to five, for example), I get to read extra chapters.

3. Celebrate!

Too often we achieve something and without even acknowledging what we’ve just accomplished, we’re on to the next project. The Law of Attraction says, “You attract what you focus on.” By celebrating, you focus on having achieved your goal. Therefore, you will attract even more achievements. You must, however, take the time to experience your accomplishment fully as a win. Grin from ear to ear, call your mother to brag, do the touchdown dance in your cubicle–the focus on achievement must last for at least minutes, not just a few seconds.

And celebrate wholeheartedly–grab that prize! Please do not rob yourself by saying, “My achievement was prize enough.” If you fail to take the reward you promised yourself, your mind won’t trust you the next time you want to play the work game.

So take the prize and enjoy the heck out of it! Bask in the pleasure of knowing you earned it.

Making work a game is vastly more fun than playing solitaire–and you’re far more likely to win!

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