gamify-life-discover-true-strengths

author: @aestranger

Reading time: 9 minutes

How to gamify your life and discover your true strengths

If you’re regular to my blogs you’ll know by now that I’ve written a few pieces on how you can use games and gamification to improve your life. Some are on how to get smarter, others are on how to create better goals, and some are on how to change your own thinking. There are much more as well, but to follow the line set out by the other posts, in this one I’d like to tackle with you, a way to gamify your journey and search to discover your strengths and weaknesses.

You will basically be going on a quest, and this quest needs to be outlined through a framework, your journey. To do this we’ll be using another previous post, the User’s Journey framework. This framework is based on Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s journey and has been made to help you look at your life as a game. Hopefully, from this perspective, it will help foster creativity in you and lay some boundaries down for you to work with.

Remember though that not everything is always in the journey you choose, just like not everything is possible in one go in life. You may need multiple journeys, quests that link in with each other. Therefore, you will need your creativity to think about how you want to go about achieving your quests goals with the limitations that you and life set out.

Life is non-linear, quests are linear

What you must understand when using the User’s Journey, is that it is a linear outline, unlike life in general, which is very much non-linear. Therefore, you must use the journey as a stepping stone, for a short period you will have things planned out, and beyond that, you will need to do the work to plan again and take what life throws at you and work with that. The journey framework is basically a plan for a quest of discovery, it is not an outline for a way of life.

And as with many things in life, it’s not always clear what you’re searching for or where, but with a framework, you have a better idea.

“Often, human talents are like the world’s natural resources. They’re buried under the ground; you don’t know that they’re there until you go actively searching for them and try to develop them.” — Sir Ken Robinson

Actively searching and discovering what your strengths are, even with a journey outline is not going to be easy. It’s going to take time and effort. It’s not an afternoon workshop for 9.99 that guarantees enlightenment or your money back. Depending on the individual undertaking the journey and the quest, it will take days, weeks, months, or longer. Be prepared to be in it for the long haul. And most importantly you will need the ability for personal reflection, self-awareness, and mindfulness. All of those activities actually inter-relate, so don’t worry about how to get one of them. Reflecting on a daily basis, being mindful, meditating and improving self-awareness all strengthen each other. So simply start with one and keep at it.

Understanding strengths & weaknesses

The first fallacy we need to get rid of with many self-help concepts is that discovering your strengths and weaknesses isn’t about finding out what to do with your life. And this is why I prefer the idea of outlining a journey and going on a quest of discovery, because you will be the hero, and as with many heroes in games and stories, they find out and improve their attributes as they go through the journey.

So, the first step in planning your journey is thinking about what you currently feel you are good at and what you’re not good at. This isn’t a question yet of what you enjoy or not. Just think about what are the highest levels of your life character’s attributes. Brainstorm it for a while and maybe make a mind map to help you.

Ok, now that you’ve done that, you’ve essentially gathered the prep gear for your journey. Now for the second step, we’re going to refine it so that we have the best starting position for our journey creation later on. Therefore, the next step is to make the decision of whether you wish to pursue something as a career, i.e. get paid for it, or that you wish to enjoy it outside of a career, i.e. be an “amateur” practitioner or hobbyist of what you’re good at.

When doing this, do remember to not to try and think about strengths as those things that will give you heaps of cash, and weaknesses as things that will make you poor. It’s better to think about it in terms of what makes you happy and unhappy, or even better: what brings you joy and what makes you bored.

The third step comes after you have created your journey and gone through it as you have determined it. This is also where the ability to reflect and be self-aware comes in handy, here you will need to accept what you have determined are your strengths and weaknesses. More often than not the list isn’t what you would like it to be. You may be good at something, but you don’t actually enjoy doing it. But don’t worry too much about that just yet, as long as you that that is at the end of your first journey, that’s good enough for now.

Opportunity is the spice of life, right?

One of the steps in the User’s Journey is going through trials and experiments to discover a solution to your problem. The problem here is to fully determine what your strengths and weaknesses are, no way to solve this is by using to that step to add random activities to your life.

“Whether or not you discover your talents and passions is partly a matter of opportunity.” — Sir Ken Robinson

Allow yourself the opportunity to experience more and to take more chances. “Opportunity events” are important, as strengths may only appear and align with a specific experience at a specific time, for example, the job you take or the project you choose to do will reveal some strengths to you.

Opportunities, therefore, can be seen as mini-goals. Knowing what your short-term goals are will create those opportunities for you to discover those strengths. Unfortunately, though, you will probably realize from that statement that with life, that situation will be a little bit like the chicken and the egg situation, which comes first? In that case, perhaps the first step to your strength discovery gamification is, in fact, gamifying your goals. If not, then hopefully this exercise of gamifying your strength discovery will help you determine and refine you short to long-term life goals.

Breaking down your Hero class / Strength categories

Like with any good role-playing game, your hero can be any kind of class, a mage, a warrior or a ranger, or something completely new. When going on your strength discovery quest, it may help you to define what you have and what you want in terms of the categories they fit into, like the hero class.

Using a method like First Principle Thinking, you should break down the possibilities and categories into smaller parts. This will refine your thinking and help you create more targeted discovery journeys. Examples of categories that you could use are:

  • Knowledge-based: education & experience
  • Transferable: communication, teamwork, problem-solving
  • Personal: flexible, long hours, formal, punctual, patience
  • Workplace strength categories:
    •  “Envision Strengths” where do I want to go and why?
    • “Design Strengths” what do I need to do and when?
    • “Build Strengths” how do I do this?
    • “Operational Strengths” who can do this?

If you wish a little bit more to choose from then there are fairly extensive lists.

And if you are truly struggling to name your strengths, and have to start point then taking a few online strength tests may get you on your way of determining whether that is what you believe or what you want to improve.

Remember though when taking these online tests, they are firstly free, so take that as want. Secondly, what they tell you is not carved in stone, often it depends on what mood you are in that day will give you a different set than the day before (at least from personal experience). These tests are simply tools to be used to help you zero in on what you truly feel are your strengths. They are merely stepping stones on your journey, they can be as part of your Trials & Experiments stage. Just take what they give you and categorize them as a reference while you are on your journey.

A few useful ones that I’ve found are:

Creating your strengths journey

Using the outline of the User’s Journey you will be able to create a brilliant quest of your own making to discover what your strengths and weaknesses are. I highly recommend you look through the post and create a journey that is completely unique to you.

But if you are struggling (or are simply lazy and want a cheat-code), I’ve outlined a basic one below of what each step could entail. It is however basic, some of the more important areas such as trials, ordeals, and rewards are missing, because they are and will be completely unique to you. You need to determine them, otherwise, this quest will be boring, grinding and eventually useless. Like the man said “(..) I can only show you the door. You’re the one who must walk through it.”Morpheus “The Matrix”

Steps in the Journey

1. The Call

a. Awareness of the problem: Make sure you know what you want to achieve.

b. Find a solution: Make sure that you’re willing to commit to it.

c. Fear: research effectively to stem the fear of the undertaking (don’t get trapped with paralysis-through-analysis though, spend 2 hours researching, no more).

d. Overcoming fear: Ask a friend, family member or colleague to be a sounding board, and for advice when needed.

e. Committing: Put daily scheduled time for you to do this. Do not get lazy and skip a day or so. Pick a time every day you know you can make without excuses and do the work, even if it’s only 30 mins or 1 hour per day.

2. The Initiation

a. Trials & Experiments:

i. Take online tests

ii. Ask yourself what you enjoy doing?

iii. What are your best qualities?

iv. Put yourself in unfamiliar situations

v. Plan to do new activities that you’ve always wanted to do but never have

vi. Find adversaries to test your skills: either friends or online adversaries in games

vii. Ask friends and family to help you if you’re struggling (Don’t be shy)

viii. Write down a list of your top 5 strengths, or top 5 enjoyable things — can either be rough or refined up to you.

b. Preparing for the change: Once you have a vague idea of what your strengths are, research and select an appropriate challenge for yourself.

i. Ask your allies to verify that it is indeed challenging for you and not something you can fly through

ii. Think of an appropriate reward and consequence for the challenge, and have your allies check this as well. The reward should motivate you and the consequence should offer learning and motivation.

c. The Ordeal: Take the challenge and see what happens

d. The Reward: Hopefully you managed to win if you did then reward yourself, and actually enjoy it, don’t just take it and move on as quickly as you can. Truly savor the reward.

i. If you failed, then analyze, reassess, and try again, or create a new challenge.

3. The Return

a. The Road back: Reflect on the challenge you created and took, really think about it, was it too hard, too easy or, just right? If the latter 2, then make the next one harder.

i. Retake the steps from The Initiation, check for new aspects of yourself, reiterate and innovate the process you went through.

b. The Resurrection: Take your new challenges and ask your allies to verify their difficulty and also talk to them about what you’ve experienced so far, have they seen changes in you.

c. The Return with the elixir: The choice here is to continue on or to use your newly discovered and confirmed strengths in something specifically? Does the adventure continue with you finding a new job, starting a side business, taking up a new life-long hobby, volunteering for something or traveling? The choice is entirely up to you.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this framework, outline, quest will help you to better discover what makes you happy and what you enjoy. Whether it’s something you can get paid to do or even if it’s something you want to get paid for, you may just want to do it for free. By the end of your journey, I sincerely hope you know, or are on the way to finding out in the next quest you set yourself.

I do want to leave you with one last thought. Activities such as these as discovering your strengths, tend to focus quite heavily on that, and they focus very little on discovering your weaknesses and what to do about them. Weaknesses are usually viewed as negatives, you should definitely be aware of them, but don’t focus on them, or rather, don’t become obsessed with them. Sometimes weaknesses can aid your strengths, your strength may be that you are good at teamwork you’re your weakness is that you are terrible at problem-solving. So, make a team that helps your problem solve. Another way of looking at weaknesses, once you are aware of them, you can use them to reverse eliminate what your strengths are by finding the polar opposites on your weaknesses.

I hope that this piece has given you some food for thought and helped improve your own methods or at least offered a different viewpoint to consider.

Please do check out the other posts on æStranger.com, and please do leave a comment or contact us if you have some ideas of your own that you wish to discuss or if you would like to see other topics discussed.

Please do Share if you found it helpful and know of someone who would it find it helpful as well.

 

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