“But, I don’t wanna!”

Those oppositional feelings within ourselves that can mysteriously thwart us from engaging the things we find important, cannot be ignored.

Any yet, too often they are. We can try to force ourselves with seemingly simple tasks like “Do Homework” or “Clean the kitchen”. But when the time comes and there is no interest, we’re stuck.

Whatever system we build, whether made of lists, reminders, calendar items, or the latest app, still needs our sense of engagement. We have to factor in those “I don’t wanna” feelings.

Video games offer an important lesson here.

Lately, on rare occasion, I’ll play a game called Dead Cells. It can be tremendously difficult at times. And though I find it difficult, I don’t find it frustrating. I keep going back, ready to take on greater challenges and see what’s behind the next door.

One of its ingenious mechanisms is how it plays within a window of difficulty, where I can test a limit, succeed or fail, and return ready to test again. When I inevitably get killed by whatever monster that ticked off the last of my health, I return to a super easy beginning. But then it quickly ramps up with new choices I make, ready to engage me at my level.

A videogame can only succeed when it fits within a window of challenge. When it is too easy, one loses interest, becoming bored leading to daydreaming if not searching for something else to do. If too difficult or frustrating, one may want to quit, perhaps having thrown a controller at the screen.

Not only that, but in order to succeed in the marketplace, a good game has to fit this window of challenge for a wide variety of players, each one with their own skills, reflexes, and histories of experience. Further, it has to be able to adapt to where the individual is in the moment. The same scenario that presents an overwhelming challenge on a day that you are tired can feel trite and boring when feeling ready.

The same principle needs to be considered and built into our own system of tasks. One day, you may feel you have energy. Other days you may not. In other words, populating our projects with next actions, grouped by resources, tools, and locations is not enough.

Conisder for any task, is how it is written too challenging? Too boring? What about balancing a list of difficult tasks with pleasant ones? What about setting them up so you can do a small amount at a time, where you can do a little, then set them aside and return later?

Any of these are about recognizing and supporting your sense of agency and your ability to decide on the challenge of the moment.

– Kourosh

PS How do you manage the “I don’t wanna” feelings? Feel free to reply and let me know if you’re ok with my quoting you anonymously or otherwise.