Questing is an essential part of any computer adventure game. In a quest the hero receives a mission from the bland like “fetch 10 tree bark samples” to the extravagant “find your lost son that was taken from your wife while you were in cryo sleep.” The longer quests are the more steps involved. Fetch wood bark is simple – find trees and collect the bark. To find your son in the Wasteland from Fallout 4 you start out with no idea who took your son, where they went, or any clues. You start out surviving and eventually you gather enough information to follow the breadcrumbs of a trail.
When trying to make healthy choices I like to think of new habits not as chores or “work,” but as quests. When you master one quest you get the reward and the ability to take on more challenging quests.
Today I took on the quest of walking. This is a fairly simple quest. But let me take you through the steps:
- I chose a time to walk
- I chose how long to walk – about 20 minutes
- I chose the right sneakers and clothes to wear
- I got a partner to walk with me
- I decided on a route
- We actually took our walk
- After the walk I drank some water and rewarded myself with some TV time
Sure, this is a very beginner quest, but without the beginner quests here isn’t the opportunity to take on the more advanced quests – like running a 5k.
Walking is a daily quest. A set of walks is called a weekly quest. Maybe the reward for completing a weekly quest is something greater than TV. A string of weekly quests is an adventure.
It starts with the one daily quest.
I was happy with myself until yesterday. Something happened yesterday that radically changed my perception of reality. I became thoroughly dissatisfied with myself. The message of dissatisfaction was delivered while shopping for new dress shirts. To make the matters worse, my wife delivered the message.
We were shopping the clearance section of Kohl’s. I love getting $60 shirts for $10. So I wait for the shirts to go on sale at the end of the season and swoop in and buy up 3-4 shirts for the price of one shirt. Well, I was struggling to find 2XLT shirts for the price I wanted. Picked up a 3XLT shirt and my wife said “That looks too big.” But I decided to try it on. She then added, “If you don’t make changes this will be your new size.” And then the hammer dropped. The 3XLT shirt fit. I am now wearing 3XLT shirts.
3 Short years ago I lost 50lbs and dropped to a plain XLT. I felt fabulous. I was energetic and confident. But over time I let my healthy habits slip. So I rationalized my health and behavior. I was not happy with my health, but I was not thoroughly dissatisfied with myself. I was OK and content.
Contentment resists change. Contentment is the enemy of change. While I thought I was OK nothing would change. When I crossed the line into 3XL I crossed an imaginary barrier that meant to me I have a problem. I have never been this large. All along the way I have ignored the signs that should have led to massive dissatisfaction. Everyone has their own list – this is mine:
- My doctor told me to lose 50lbs
- My wife told me she is worried about me
- I struggle to go up 2 flights of stairs without puffing
- I am considered pre-diabetic
- My older brother had a diabetic episode (his first) where he blacked out and spent a few days in the hospital
- I could not button the top button on my dress shirts
- I had to buy new pants
- The “fat pants” I bought 4 years ago fit again
- The new pants I bought when I lost weight are now in my bottom dresser drawer waiting for me to lose weight
- I am tired all the time
- When I went to an amusement park they had to have two people strap me into a roller coaster and push down on the lap bar (hard) to get it to click. (This was actually a sign I felt very bad about it, but did nothing).
- I wear a shit when swimming
- I snore more and my wife complains about it more
- My knees hurt
- My back hurts
- I feel less confident
- I am often the biggest person in the room
Why am I saying all this? People change for pain or pleasure. For the last three years I lived in mediocrity. Since change in lifestyle is difficult to start and not pleasurable I accepted the pain and made excuses. My list above is a reminder that I really am dissatisfied and the pain I am causing myself by not changing is very real.
I am embracing my pain. I am embracing my dissatisfaction. I am getting real with myself. I am unhappy. I am in pain. I am dissatisfied with my life and I am am doing something about it.
Dissatisfaction propels people into action. My first action will dedicate myself to get more sleep. I often get 6 or even 4 hours of sleep a night. This makes me unable to do anything else. No workouts, no healthy eating, nothing. Without sleep I am worthless and powerless to act. I will keep you updated on my quest for more sleep. I imagine if I can get my sleep under control I will be able to make more gains quicker. Small steps lead to success.
What are you dissatisfied with and what action will you take?