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Leveling Up Your Career: Gamification Strategies for Professional Success

Updated: Jun 26

Just about anything can be turned into a game. I say this having read SuperBetter by Dr. Jane McGonigal. She successfully turned her concussion recovery into a game. Gamification is the act of applying game mechanics to non-game activities, like concussion recovery. Gamifying the less exciting, more boring, or downright awful tasks can make them more tolerable. Just like Mary Poppins said:

“In every job that must be done,

There is an element of fun.

You find the fun and snap!

The job’s a game.”

(Performed by Julie Andrews, written by Robert Sherman and Richard Sherman)

So, how do you apply gamification to your professional life?

I’m going to give you three ways to start so that you can begin leveling up your career right away. These three things are just a taste of what gamification can do, so feel free to put your own spin on it and do further research.

#1 Quests > Tasks

Reframe your tasks into quests. Heroes go on quests. Quests are part of the adventure. A game wouldn’t send you to complete tasks, but a game would ask you to complete quests.

Challenges will arise, and altering your perspective can help immediately. For example, I need to engage on LinkedIn to keep myself relevant. Or I can quest for the best post that needs my comment. I can quest for new allies (connections) on LinkedIn. I can even quest for the right article to share with my audience. It’s far more fun to have a questing mindset over a tasking mindset.

#2 Race Yourself

Commit yourself fully to the quest at hand. Remove all distractions, turn off notifications, and give the dog something to keep him occupied while you focus on one thing. Set a timer, even if it's just for five minutes. Five minutes of intense focus with no distractions. And it’s not just about speed, but also accuracy. What good is a quest if it’s partially completed?

The goal here is to challenge yourself to go a little further than last time. The only competitor is you, and you’re going for a personal best. The race is only against your past self, no one else. Please note: this tactic should only be used if there is a legitimate sense of urgency. Racing yourself too much without breaks can become exhausting, and you want to remain energized.

#3 Record & Reward

Don’t forget to track your wins. List them in a spreadsheet, save them in a heroically named folder on your computer, or write them down somewhere safe. Professionally, these will help with your annual review. Personally, these will give you a boost on more difficult days. Keeping a record is also important for knowing what your personal best is.

And once you set that record, reward yourself. All of the best adventures have treasure, and you can pick your own prize! Make sure it’s motivating, though not necessarily flashy or expensive, just something you will work for. Prizes can look like a quiet night with a book, brunch with friends, or a new piece of print art for your wall. Get creative and have fun.

Gamification is a powerful skillset. It’s different from toxic positivity because gamification is built around doing the work and engaging the player. Building a career through gamification is work, but it is the“spoonful of sugar [to help] the medicine go down” (Andrews, Sherman, & Sherman).

If this resonated with you and you’d like to explore gamification with me as your coach, set up a free 15-minute call to see if we vibe.

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