I am totally into “Level Up Your Life” by Steve Kamb right now. Here’s the premise: a former gamer dissected the psychology of what makes video games so addictive (the dopamine hit from gaining points and new skills, defeating the big boss at the end of each level and progressing to the next level) and thought, why can’t you apply that same strategy to real life?
My favorite part are his references to the Hero’s Journey (Joseph Campbell). As I outlined in my journey of writing the Piercing the Veil trilogy, when I first started analyzing all my favorite stories and found that they all contained a similar story arc, I thought I’d made a brand new discovery. Then I found that Joseph Campbell figured this out back in the 1930s. (I was about 80 years too late. Bummer.) Still, I had a burning conviction that the reason these stories endure, the reason we love them so much, is because we all identify with them. We all know that’s supposed to be our story, too.
Steve Kamb uses this concept of the Hero’s Journey, and combines it with gaming psychology to create an incredibly creative approach to goal-setting. Example: on levelupyourlife.com, you can create your own alter-ego, complete with class (are you a warrior? A scout? An assassin? A ranger? A monk? etc), a slogan, and your personal origin story (“so-and-so was just an ordinary guy, who struggled with the character flaws of whatever, but he had a secret…”). From there, you create your own epic quests, broken down by category. You then break each quest into smaller activities, assigning a certain number of points to each activity—whatever you think it should be worth, between 1-100 points. Every 100 points, you get to “level up.”
I’m LOVING this.
- My superhero alter-ego? The Purple Tiger. (My husband calls me this because of some pajama pants I wear all the time in purple leopard print that look like Lisa Frank exploded all over them. My mom originally bought them for me as a joke.)
- My slogan? Well, it would have been the Helen Keller quote, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing,” but that was too many characters for his site. So it’s just “Life is a daring adventure.” Which is kind of generic and lame. I’ll come up with something better.
- My class: Ranger. (They’re a jack-of-all-trades, which is kind of how I see myself.)
- My fictional character inspirations? Katniss Everdeen (resourceful and a total badass with a bow and arrow); MacGyver (resourceful, calm under pressure, brilliant); Jackson MacNamera (am I allowed to pick my own character? He’s trained both his body and his mind. Also badass, resourceful, and calm under pressure), and Hermione Granger (I’d be her over Harry because she’s brilliant, resourceful, and remembers what she learns.) Hmm, I’m noticing a theme here…
- My epic quests: I have a few obvious ones related to my professional and personal life, but the new ones my fictional character choices inspire include further fitness training–particularly CrossFit and body weight exercises, so that I can be prepared for anything; archery; maybe some martial arts; and is there a class on being MacGyver? …Because if so, I wanna take it! And if not, maybe I should create it… possible business opportunity here…
I’d love to hear from you! Who’s your superhero alter-ego? What’s your slogan? What fictional characters would you most love to emulate?