In the past few months I have started using a site called Fitocracy. It measures your workouts as you report them and gives you point values based on what you’ve done in your work out. Then you level up. Like a video game but, you know, real. Since I’ve started using this I’ve probably lost in the neighborhood of 10 to 15 pounds (that’s a guess, I didn’t record an accurate “before” weight) and workout anywhere from 2 to 5 times a week, depending on the week.
In the past two weeks I have started using another site called 750words.com. It does exactly what it says. It is a place where you can write every day with the intention of hitting the target of 750 words. Every day you write and hit the goal, you get points, kind of like bowling. There are badges and achievements. It also has some sort of a program that works in the background to “analyze” your mood and emotions based on what you write. Very un-scientific, but very fun to read. Since I’ve started using this I’ve written 750 words a day for the past 13 days straight, several days of which have become blog posts (like this one).
Before I started using either of these sites, I knew I should write and workout on a daily/semi-daily basis. But never did. Now, after I’ve started using them, my success rate has gone up like a gazillion percent.
Hey, when you move from zero frequency to even just one, technically it’s an infinite scale increase. Gazillion is a lot closer to an accurate measurement than you think, even if it isn’t a real word.
I think the real issue for me is measurable progress. By assigning a numerical value to the process (even if it is completely arbitrary/useless) allows me to go back and see how far I have come. For example, I may not want to write on a particular night, but the idea of breaking a 14 day streak is simply unacceptable. So I write in order to maintain the streak. It’s the same way with Fitocracy. While I can see only a little change in my body from working out, I can see 12 levels worth of change on my profile. It just helps to see how far I’ve come.
I think that is a good reason why journaling is helpful and important to do. If for no other reason than to record what you did that day it is helpful. Just like Fitocracy and 750words give you points to measure how far you’ve come, journaling events and your reflections on what happened let you see how far you’ve come in life. While it might feel weird to go back and read past journals, it is a wonderful exercise. I’ve often had the thought “Oh silly ‘young me,’ that’s not how things work” or something along those lines. And while for a good period of time that inhibited my writing (why write if I’m not going to like it in a year or two?) I think I have come to the realization that it is okay to think that. In fact, it may be good to think that because it shows growth and development both in writing skill and (hopefully) thought process.
I’m sure people have tried to tell me that exact same thing over the years but only in recent weeks has it made sense. I mean, as uncomfortable as it makes me to read my words and be semi-embarrassed of them, would it be any better to be 70 someday and reading my words as a 16 year old and think “Man, I had it right then, just like now.” No! I need to grow and change as life goes on. I can’t get to some static perfect state and then stay there. I’ve always believed in a more Hebrew/fluid understanding of perfection as opposed to a Greek/static understanding. Perfection is being the right thing at the right time, not the same thing forever. So maybe those were good thoughts for me to have as a 16 year old. I can still appreciate them as a 24 year old even if I don’t agree with them.
So not to make this all melodramatic or anything. But that’s a pretty big revelation for me, personally. I’ve long put off writing because I’ve looked back on past stuff and not really appreciated it. Now I understand that is okay. Actually it is good. So here’s to writing more! Who cares if I like it next year or not?
What motivates you to do the things you ought to do but don’t want to? Do you have any special tricks or sites you use to help you get going? If so, please share in the comments.