Lifehack: Gamify your wright loss

This is bonus text to go along with my post about the notion of Density of Goals and it’s use in game design. To better understand what I mean, please take a look at the original.

You can apply the principle of density of goals in everyday life!

Did you ever try to lose weight? Did you ever pick up a new hobby that required developing a new skill such as learning a foreign language or playing a guitar?

Chances are your progress followed a curve. The start was somewhat awkward, maybe slow, but you were full of enthusiasm and determination. Suddenly there was progress towards your goal and everything felt really good. Until it didn’t. You’ve reached a plateau of your new found skill and any further improvement requires a tremendous amount of effort. The curse of diminishing returns. Ultimately you abandon your quest. You bought a bucket of chocolate ice cream and two packs of chocolate chip cookies. The guitar is now gathering dust between your sofa and the bookshelf.

The problem is not your lack of character. The problem is that you got stuck on your quest to lose weight. If you set for yourself a target weight that you want to reach, that is you singular aspirational goal with only on linear path leading to it. You will naturally lose interest once the effort becomes too much and while the goal remains distant.

You can turn this into an RPG quest! Don’t laugh, this works. There is a serious science behind if.

Instead of fixating on one particular goal, like losing 4kg (10lb),try to formulate a variety of goals. Your nutritionist or a personal trainer probably gave you loads of good advice about kinds of foods to avoid activities that you can do. Turn each individual one in an individual quest:

For example:

  • Quest 1: No Chocolate — Give yourself a point for each day without chocolate and candy. When you collect seven points give yourself a star. Give yourself bonus 10 stars when you reach day 30.
  • Quest 2: Take the Stairs - Give yourself a point each time you take stairs instead of the elevator. Give yourself a star for each 10 “elevator” points you collect.

You can create as many as you can think of. The trick is to always have more than one target to shoot for. If something becomes unbearable and you break your chocolate free streak you can still progress in your eat three apples each day quest!

Think about rewarding the consistent behavior. Perhaps, some of the quests should reset if you make a break, for example, you could lose all the week’s points in No Chocolate quest if you skip a day. You can use Google Sheets to track your progress.

Create an achievement system for yourself. Each time you collect 100 you Level Up yourself. Think of some fancy titles for each level.

Hopefully, you should soon start to focus on the individual quests and forget to fret over your original aspirational goal. The weight loss will come as a nice surprise!

There are also plenty of apps that do this sort of thing, so you might want to check them out.


I am a Creative Director at EA/Tracktwenty studio in Helsinki.

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