How to Gamify Your Life

Fighting off intergalactic threats. Saving the princess. Firing a rocket launcher. Slaying the dragon. Fighting off the zombie hoard. A hairpin turn at 160 mph. A walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning to win the World Series . . .

Who doesn’t love a great video game?

A great game draws you out of the vapid events of your day-to-day to step into a world of imagination, excitement, and adventure.

What if you could take all the best reasons we escape into the virtual world of video games, and bring them into your everyday life?

You can be anyone. You can do anything. As far as entertainment goes, it’s not a bad way to kill a few hours.

But what if you could take all the best reasons we escape into the virtual world of video games, and bring them into your everyday life? What if you could live your real life like a video game?

Here is your step-by-step guide to gamify your life. Follow these steps and you’ll know yourself a little better, have an exciting way to improve your life, and finally find the motivation to go out and have a little adventure!

Step 1: Create Your Avatar

Seeing yourself with honesty and objectivity—including your strengths, weaknesses, potential for improvement, etc.—can be really difficult. Seeing your character in a game with objectivity and honesty? That’s super easy.

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Being honest about those is really tough. So don’t think of yourself as a person, think of yourself as an avatar.

You have four main areas of health:

  • Physical health (HP - Health Points)
  • Emotional health (EP - Emotion Points)
  • Intellectual health (IP - Intellect Points)
  • Spiritual health (SP - Spirit Points)

Assign a number rating to your four areas of health. Use a ten-point scale. You don’t need to get super scientific with this. You know if you are a 2, and you know if you are an 8. You might not know if you are a 6.785, but don’t let that stop you.

Here are my ratings:
HP: 5
EP: 7
IP: 8
SP: 6

Next, figure out your character type. Different character types have different strengths and weaknesses in relation to your four areas of health.

For example, a Healer type might be more helpful, caring, and focused on emotions, relationships, and spirituality, but competition and feats of strength aren’t really their strong suit. A Warrior type might be highly physical, love a good challenge, and adventurous, but struggle with tact and maintaining strong relationships.

Here are some other examples of names and traits of different character types:

WARRIOR Strength, power, competition
SCOUT Endurance
RANGER Jack of all trades, adaptable
ASSASSIN light-weight, agile, unassuming
MONK Agile, dextrous, fast, hidden strength
DRUID Purpose of movement, intellect
REBEL Undecided

Determine your type, and decide your avatar’s strengths and weaknesses. You can choose one of the above, or make up your own! Don’t overthink this. Have fun with it, and pick something that you feel has some reflection of who you are.

Turn your dreams and goals into quests.

I choose to call myself a Ranger type. I’m adventurous and kind of a loner. I see myself as a jack of all trades, and I like to help other people. I’m pretty balanced in all four areas, but I’m a little stronger in EP and IP compared to HP or SP. Being a balanced character type, there are a lot of other character types that far exceed me in one particular area, but while my strengths aren’t as strong, my weaknesses aren’t as weak.

Okay. If you’ve followed these steps then you have your avatar mapped out. You know who you are. Now it’s time to start leveling up.

Step 2: Level Up

Starting is frustrating. You don’t have any items, and your character is weak. You lack skills. It’s time to go adventuring and level up!

Pick one area, and resolve to move up one number in your ratings.

I’m going to work on moving my HP rating from a 5 to a 6. I’m not going to try to do all ratings at once, and I’m not going to try to jump from a 5 to a 7. I’m just going to focus on getting that 5 to a 6 in that one area.

Here is the problem with leveling up. When you focus on one area, the others naturally decrease because you aren’t focusing on them. They need time and attention, too! It takes a balanced approach to each of the four areas of life. You’ll see how this plays out later on in the steps, but just know that you have to pay attention to each of the four areas of health.

You should be wondering: How do I know if I’ve gotten from a 5 to a 6? Great question. And it leads us to the next step in gamifying your life . . .

Step 3: Complete Quests

Quests are the main point of every role-playing game.

The goals in a game are clear and specific, you know when you have achieved them—and you get rewards. In life, we tend to be ambiguous about what we want to do, our goals, and what it means to achieve them. Questing will change that.

Spend a little time dreaming about the things you’d love to do, try to come up with quests and then give each quest a reward.

You turn your dreams and goals into quests, and you assign each quest a corresponding reward.

Let’s stick with my example of moving from a 5 to a 6 in HP to see how this works. Say there is a 5K race coming up six weeks from now.

My quest: Run 5K
My reward: +1 HP


Get creative with your quests and rewards, and make sure they are personal to your avatar.

Perhaps your HP is a 7, so running a 5K isn’t a big deal for you. Instead, your quest could be to run a marathon. Great. Perhaps you rated yourself low in EP and IP because you are a bit shy, have trouble making friends, and tend to stay in and binge watch Netflix. Your quest could be to join a group of coworkers for their weekly trivia night. Your reward is +1 EP and +1 IP.

Spend a little time dreaming about the things you’d love to do within the physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual areas of your life. Try to come up with at least ten quests in each area, with a good balance of easy and difficult quests. Then, give each quest a reward. Rewards can be subjective, too. Maybe visiting a new park this weekend with your friends gets you +1 EP, but traveling to New Zealand with that group gets you +4 EP. Perfect! The more challenging the quest, the greater the reward.

Your goal is to complete one quest per month. Once you have written down your quests lists, you’ll want to map out the year ahead and plan for the different quests you want to achieve. The last thing you’ll need . . .

Step 4: Keep Your Game Log

Every game keeps a game log. It tells you which quests you have completed, which ones you are working on, and which ones are waiting in the wing. It tells you what you have achieved, where you have been, and how long you’ve played. The game log is like your avatar’s roadmap of life.

You need a game log for your life, too.

Get a journal. On the first page, write down your avatar, your character type, a description of your character type (including strengths and weaknesses), and your ratings.

The game log is like the roadmap of your life.

Write “Physical Quests,” “Emotional Quests,” “Intellectual Quests,” and “Spiritual Quests” as headings on each of the next four pages. This is where you should write down your ten quests for each of the four areas. You’ll replenish this page as necessary, or whenever a new quest strikes you.

Use the rest of the journal to track your progress. Write down your ratings at the top of the page, the quest you are trying to achieve, and your plan to win the quest. When you have completed your quest, note that in the journal, and adjust your ratings according to your quest reward.

Every month, write down a new active quest, your ratings, and your plan to complete your quest. But here is the catch:

Every month that you don’t complete a quest in a particular health area, that area goes down by one point.

So my ratings at the start of the month were:
HP: 5
EP: 7
IP: 8
SP: 6

I’ve completed my 5K quest, so HP is up to 6, but the others dropped down one spot each. Now I’ve got decisions to make. I’m getting pretty uncomfortable with SP being at a 5, so I’m going to pick a Spiritual quest this month that gives me a +2 SP reward.

Keep your constantly changing health ratings—and the rewards for doing harder quests versus easier quests—in mind as you plan out which quests you will achieve in which months. It makes it really easy to see any areas of your life you have been neglecting as the numbers drop lower and lower. And, of course, if you don’t complete your quest, there are real consequences! You’ll drop one point in each of the four areas and really have your work cut out for you.

Why do people love playing video games? You know exactly what you are trying to do, how to do it, you see yourself improve over time, and you get to go on incredible adventures.

Why can’t your life be like that?

Create your avatar, level up, complete quests, and keep your game log.

Four steps to turning your life into the coolest video game ever.

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