Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Tying Balloons to a House

When one of your jobs is board-game design (I also co-own Butter Knife Concepts), you spend a lot of time thinking about Win Conditions. Win conditions are those things you need to do to win the game, such as collect a number of victory points. In life, we erroneously focus more on the Goal.

For instance, if your Goal is to quit smoking [or drinking, or drugs, or watching reality TV], every time you don't do "it," you're collecting a victory point. With AA/NA, you collect actual plastic chips; in a perfect world, you could turn them in for additional prizes, like at the arcade.

How many victory points does it take to satisfy your win conditions? That depends and is completely set by you. If your goal is to never do "it" again, then you need all the points from that point forward, and that may or may not be feasible, based on the individual. Conversely, if your goal is to refrain from doing "it" in excess, that may be an easier goal to reach, or even an intermediate goal.

Example: Let's say you were a person who drank to excess and would black out - possibly driving, exhibiting poor behavior, and so forth. Your goal could be to not drink to the point where you black out, so every drinking session is spent in full consciousness. You're collecting victory points every time you meet this new goal. Once you know you can do accomplish this, you may choose to set a more restrictive goal of only drinking on days when you do not have to work the next day. Each time you do this, you're collecting more victory points. Now, maybe you feel this is a good stopping point for you and you are controlling your behaviors to where you have reached the goal. Or, you may still choose to cut down further to only drink on special occasions, and then, only in moderation - a glass of champagne at a wedding, for instance. We are not cookies and a cookie-cutter answer does not make sense for us human beings. Nor can I guess, without your input, what your end goal is or should be.

Just because you have "tried" things in the past and did not get to the Goal, or did not meet the win conditions, does not mean you failed. It means you worked through something AND that you collected some victory points for it! This is relevant and means your Win Condition is closer than if you'd not been playing at all.

Think of it like this: If I wanted to get my house to float, like in the movie Up, I would need to tie a lot of balloons to the house. How many balloons does it take? Well, how big is my house? How much does my furniture weigh? Is it an African or a European swallow? Each balloon I tie, is progress. Each action is not an "attempt" but an effort of will. How much will does it take to break a long-term bad habit? How many balloons to float your house? Each one gets you closer to the Goal. Each successive Victory Point is part of solving the Win Condition.

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Weston, Florida. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on TwitterFacebook, and Google+. Sign up for the e-newsletter HERE.