Life is a Game - But You Set the Rules – HealFast
Chess game pieces

Life is a Game - But You Set the Rules

A wise man once told me that “Life is a game, play to make yourself happy” he also said in perhaps somewhat of dark humor “you only get one shot as we know and you won’t get out alive in the end”.

As we have discussed in other HealFast posts, motivation and discipline are two very different things. Often discipline is the more important to have in terms of “sticking/staying power” when making changes in your life. But discipline is well hard! It takes years of character development and internal fortitude to ingrain this in your personality. But nonetheless, we all have that capability, and just like it was learned when young, it can be relearned, learned, and/or enforced when older.

But fear not, there are ways to help instill this virtuous quality in ourselves and it could be surprisingly fun! Life might be a game, but you get to set the rules (well personal rules anyhow!)

In our previous post, we talked about little tricks to help instill discipline especially in regards to working out, but today I wanted to share some thoughts on how to instill discipline and have fun for just about every task in life that you want to make a part of your daily routine.

Treat change like a game!

Do you want to get healthier this year? Increase your income? Travel more and spend time with family? Or simply get those abs and learn that language?

Treat change like a game. Set up your schedule and milestones you think to measure your success as the goals, and make sure to write it down! That is crucial and I often find a large whiteboard in your house plus maybe a small tablet one you carry around the house might be helpful with staying on track.

Next – treat these milestones as levels in a game and determine the interval to which you want to play the game and the rewards for completing each level. For example, I personally made a game to help me get in shape. I started this game to focus on what physical activity I could do at a minimum each day to help me be healthier in the long run.

I wrote down what each day would hold in terms of exercise (Sit-ups, Push-ups, Lunges, Dips, Squats, Abs, Pull-ups, stretching – the same exercises I recommended in another HealFast Health & Wellness post) and the number of reps to be completed. Then I set basic rules about this exercise, what constitutes a level, and what the rewards might be!


  1. I will not leave the house before these exercises are completed each morning (where possible) and they get done before the morning shower.

  2. I need to complete this routine at minimum 5x a week to consider the week successful, extra bonus points if every day is hit, and higher points if every day is hit over time making a “streak”.

  3. A single break or missed day ends the steak and cannot be made up by doing double work the next day.

  4. This routine is done regardless of whether I got to the gym for a “proper workout”

A Level is defined as a block of time 30, 60, 90 days, and so on. A Streak is also bracketed in the same way, i.e. if you can do 30-days straight you reach a better reward more than if you only did the minimum of 5-days a week within a 30-day period.

My example above is not meant to confuse or limit your own creativity but is meant to show how it can be fun when you make a game out of change.

As for my rewards, they can be what you want but I advise you to make them special. If they are low-hanging fruit like “I can eat ice cream this weekend” you might be inclined to cheat and just grab an ice cream. Maybe instead make it a vacation or travel reward.

Why does this work and why is it worth the extra mental effort?

Part of this question is actually self-explanatory so I will start there. The fact that the game takes a little extra effort and creativity to craft and establish, helps lead to the sticking power. It hones your focus and once established actually acts as a filter for your brain to simply guide your decisions almost on auto-pilot regarding situations involving/invoking the rules. There is simply less to think about when the rules are set and the time comes to use them.

The decision leads to action. When attempting to start a process, or keep the momentum up, it is often best to “just do it”…i.e., make a decision on the action and go with it. If you have 5 things to do just decide which one you start with first and go with it! When setting the rules and the game, you are deciding on those rules (action) and setting them in stone as part of the game (process). Repeating an action on a consistent and set course as part of a larger process is easier than attempting the action as a one-off. The latter requires the motivation to re-ignite the fire.

Keep track of your points in public. If you live with a significant other then, this is even more potent. Tell your friends and loved ones of the game, if they can see your progress you will be less likely to falter and let “them or yourself” down. You also can’t cheat as easily and get the reward if it was unearned. This works particularly well if you live under the same roof and allows you to compete against the expectations and critiques of another person as well. I often find they are tougher critics as well that help motivates and spur you onwards. That way you are not alone in your game and ultimately the battle for self-change.

If life is a game then set the rules, there should be no excuses if you set obtainable and realistic goals to track against. All that is left is how well you play the game.

I hope you enjoyed this post and if so, feel free to comment and add questions below, and don’t forget to sign up to our Facebook and Twitter accounts for new releases and share with family and loved ones! As always, until the next post, stay informed and be healthy!

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