“But I need motivation & will-power to do this…”
Will-power and motivation can be seen as perspectives that you have at a point in time. To achieve or receive either can be done by changing a mindset of how you view a challenge ahead of you. There is a great article in the Harvard Business Review that discusses the points that you need to focus on when, as they sat it; “you’re just not feeling it,” when it comes to motivating yourself.
I am going to borrow the outline and at times paraphrase the various points that they make in the article, as I believe that they are good starting points for exploring a foundational strategy around developing an understanding around motivation. I feel that we need to establish these before we get going into the methodologies around prototyping and design sprint thinking for improving your life. And to also establish some terminology that’s more commonly associated with gamification.
The first thing you will need to do is define clear and realistic goals for yourself. When determining and setting your goals, you will need to be as specific as possible. When you choose and set well-defined and detailed goals for yourself, you will start to activate the intrinsic motivational lever of Mastery (Griffin, D., van der Meer, A. (2019) Press Start, pg. 97). What this means is that when you achieve one of your goals, you will feel a sense of accomplishment and empowerment from success. The sensation will likely be a euphoric one.
If your goals appear to be too large, vague, complicated or over-encompassing, then break them down into their constituent parts to make them more manageable. One method of breaking down a goal is through First Principles Thinking, made popular again most recently by Elon Musk.
Once you’ve broken down your goals into smaller parts, consider how you can achieve each part and what about each part you find enjoyable to do. Have the parts that you enjoy or are good at, branch off further into areas such as being able to show off your skills, or being able to work together with a favourite colleague, friend or your partner. Knowing these aspects will help you later during the prototyping exercise.
And to move your mind more into a gamified state, write your goals down as game objectives or quest objectives. Consider what the win state could look like if you achieved your goal. At this point, it need only be a vague idea of the win state. And if you are literary inclined, you could create some flavour text for your game objectives.
Rewards are some of the hardest aspects to define when you are considering gamifying anything. It can be difficult to define what reward is appropriate when an objective has been achieved, as you will need to consider intrinsic versus extrinsic rewards. An intrinsic reward will usually be something along the lines of the knowledge and feeling of elation of having successfully completed a task. And what that completion means for you personally. An extrinsic reward is an external, sometimes tangible, reward, and it may work to motivate you, depending on what you find valuable.
If you do choose an extrinsic reward method, make sure that what you choose has a positive effect upon you or whoever it is being rewarded too. This is essential, as the wrong kind of reward may cause you to rush and make mistakes in order to achieve the reward. If that happens, then anything you’ve done to that point will be undermined, and the end result will be your motivation being lowered even further.
When choosing a reward, be sure that it builds upon what you want to achieve already. For example, if you are considering a career change, then perhaps structure the rewards in such a way that after you’ve successfully contacted fifty people in an effort to develop your new career, only then do you buy yourself a new, much needed, laptop as a reward. The laptop is then a ‘nice to have’ but is also a necessary piece of equipment to help you consolidate the efforts you’ve done so far.
Alternatively, if rewards do not motivate you much, you can also consider consequences and loss aversion as motivators. These can be powerful ‘negative-rewards’ (in this sense using the word negative in a similar vein to ‘negative-space’). People do become surprisingly more motivated when they are actively trying to avoid losing something of value to them or to mitigate an unfavourable consequence. (Griffin, D., van der Meer, A. (2019) Press Start, pg. 48).