Gamification
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I never though that making it a habit to walk around my block could be such an effective weight loss solution.

Of course, I paired this new walking habit with some healthy eating (although not perfect by any means) and have been amazed at how successful of a start I’m off to.

I’ll admit, although I’m slightly embarrassed to, that I’m overweight.  Nothing crazy, but I’m carrying too much weight for my 6 foot frame.

I’ve said to myself so many times over the years that “I’ll get started tomorrow” that it’s not even funny anymore and I stopped believing myself.

So, what changed?  Why was I able to lose 11 pounds in the first week with only going to the gym once?

Well, It’s the small things that add up.

1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1 = 5+5

Both sides of the equals sign above add up to 10.

On the left, there are ten 1s and on the right there are two 5s.  If someone didn’t see the steps to get to 10 they would believe that both were equal, because they are.

Where am I going with this?  I want to share with you, like I did in the last article about making more time for yourself, the fact that massive and imperfect actions almost always trump inaction.

You’ll notice that I said my healthy eating wasn’t perfect.  I had a very unhealthy cheat day and a few sweets here and there throughout the week.  The results, down 11 pounds in week one and over 14 pounds total after 2.5 week.

The numbers that are getting smaller on the scale are great but the true win is that I’m already feeling healthier, I’m feeling sharper and have a newly restore zest for life.

So What Changed?

I’m sure you can related to the statement we all have made in our lives more than once: “My diet starts tomorrow.”  I don’t know how many times I’ve said that but it’s more than a few hundred dozen times.

There were two main catalysts that lead toward changing my eating habits and spending more time exercising.  Those two catalysts are:

The Power Of Habit1.  The Power of Habit by Chales Duhigg – This book opened up my mind to the psychology behind habits.  How they are formed, why they are formed and how you can use this knowledge to disrupt your current habits and replace them with habits that you want to do.

Using these methods I’ve been able to eat better, exercise more, get more done at work, make my bed everyday and floss more (although not everyday just yet).

It’s a great read and I highly recommend you check it out.

My Fitbit One2. FitBit One – This one, I have to admit, has been a big shock to me.  I had a friend who told me that he was wearing a FitBit and it was a huge motivating factor for him to move more during the day.

I was skeptical as I didn’t think that walking 10,000+ steps a day was all that great when it came to exercise.

I have always been a “hit the gym and hit it hard” kind of guy and if I wasn’t drenched in sweat I didn’t think I had a good workout.

After a couple weeks of continued inactivity and lots of daily steps by my friend I though I’d make the small investment into a FitBit and see what kind of rate of return I’d receive.

I have to say that I wish all my investments worked out this well!  Since getting my FitBit I have been walking way more than I ever have before.  I shoot for 10,000 to 15,000 steps per day and reach my goal more often than not.

What amazes me so much is that this little device that shows me how many (or how few) steps I’ve taken so far in the day really motivates me to move more and get active.  There have been many nights at 11 pm where I look at my step count for the day and then head out and walk around the block until the clock strikes midnight.

How Does All This Relate To Personal Finance & Business?

So far you might be wondering if vosa.com had turned into a health and wellness site.  Don’t worry, we’re still focused on personal finance and business.

The power of habits and gamification of tasks can have a massive and positive impact on your personal finances as well as your money making ventures.

Do you want to save more?  Make it a habit by recognizing that a habit is formed by a cue, a routine and a reward.

Let’s look at an example based on the $5 trick I learned from Paula who writes at Beauty Through Imperfection.

Paula write: “Every time you go shopping and pay with your debit card, ask for $5-$10 cash back. Put the money in a small box at home and deposit it to savings each time it reaches $50 or more.”

Big Piggy BankI have followed this method for 13+ years now but I have only done it with the change I receive.  I never asked for $5 or $10 cash back to add to my extremely large piggy bank.  After 8 years I had a little more than $3,000 saved up.

Now, I wasn’t depositing the money every time the total hit $50 because I really wanted to see that big piggy bank get filled to the brim (after 8 years it was a little over half way) but I could have had more saved up thanks to the power of compounding interest.

Especially since my Capital One 360 (formerly ING Direct) account was paying around 5% interest on a savings account!

Let’s break down the $5 trick into the three steps of forming a habit:

1. The Cue – Being at the grocery store

2. The Routine – Ask for $5 or $10 cash back

3. The Reward – As soon as you get home you deposit that $5 or $10 into you savings piggy bank and watch the total grow.  If you deposit it each time it get over $50 you could even have a tracker where you mark off your savings total or the number of times you’ve deposited $50 into your savings account.

If you did this each time you went to the grocery store, sooner than later this would form a habit and the $5 trick would be engrained deep into your brain to happen automatically.

I go to the grocery store, on average, 2 times per week.  If I deposited $10 into my savings bank after each trip to the grocery store that would add up to $1,040 over the course of the year!  That’s a lot of small things adding up into a big reward.

Wrapping Things Up

Being creative in finding ways to make  pay down your debt, save more money, exercise more or make more time to work on a side venture a habit is a great way to get the ball rolling.

It might take a while for you to notice the effect all the 1s have on the bigger picture but, trust me, if you just keep systematically adding 1s to the board by the end of the ball game you’re going to have a lot of runs!

Start today and take action often.  Leave a comment below letting me know what actions you’re going to start taking today.  Thanks!

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