I didn’t want to tell you guys about this till it’d been working for a while, but my sister Sarah and I have been having so much fun with this point system we invented over a month ago and so I wanted to share it with you because it could help make your life even awesomer. I have never been quite as productive as I have this last month — it’s insane. So, without further ado —
What is the point system?
It’s a reward system where you earn gold coins and blue coins (i.e. points) for doing positive things that are moving you toward your dreams. Then you can use your coins to ‘buy’ treats and things you want. It part of the gamification of life — i.e. to make ordinary tasks as fun, rewarding, and addictive as video games do with their lights, sounds and, well, coins of achievement.
How does it work?
First you decide what type of things you want to be doing daily to get to your perfect, dream life. For me it’s exercising, keeping the house clean, and most especially writing. So when I write for thirty minutes, I get one gold coin and one blue coin. Cycling two miles also gets me one coin of each color (I tend to call such things earning a coin, but as you’ll see different colors have different uses and every activity offers one coin of each color).
And if I have a ‘perfect day’ in which I do all the coin-earning activities that I have written down, I get an extra coin! Yowza!
What do these coins do?
Well, gold coins are for food treats like dining out or getting a shake, or even buying a carton of ice cream to take home. That’s right, my base is no sweets and no eating out. BUT you don’t have to go all out like that. Even saying you’re earning your Big Mac by taking a walk around your block would still be a great thing. You decide your point system — just know, if you want it — you gonna have to earn it.
Blue coins buy you non-food related goodies — albums, movie tickets, fun clothes or jewelry. That’s right, I don’t get those things unless I earn them. The flip side, if you earn it, you don’t feel guilty about buying it.
So, how’s it been working out?
Fantastically. It means that just doing simple, good things like cleaning the house or doing yoga (things I didn’t do every day) suddenly are reward situations. I’m earning points right now sitting here writing to you! It’s limited the amount of indulgences while increasing the activities that will lead to the life of my dreams. We all know steps that would get us where we want to go; this helps us follow the path AND feel rewarded instead of deprived when it comes to treats and snacks.
Here’s how you do it —
- Figure out your dream life. Are you fit and healthy? Is the house clean? Are you closer to your family members? Have you written a novel? Imagine an average day in your perfect life.
- Break your dream life down into daily steps. Want to be healthier? Take a daily walk. Have a dream job? Improve yourself in 30 minute stretches to own that role. Want to write a book? Write every day.
- Choose four or five areas of improvement. Mine are writing more, exercise, yoga, and cleanliness.
- Choose five or six (or more) activities that can earn you points. I wouldn’t make these denials (i.e. no sugar before 12:00pm). Instead make them as positive, enjoyable, and fun as possible (after all, you are replicating a day in your perfect life, so if you love cycling but hate calisthenics — cycle!) The idea is to enjoy this stuff as much as possible.
- Decide what activities you need to do to earn a ‘perfect day’ bonus point (it’s a powerful motivation if you’re close to getting that extra point).
- (Optional) Decide if anything loses you a point. I only mention this because I’m a little sporadic about brushing my teeth as often as is optimal, so I made a rule that if I fall down on my teeth brushing regimen, that day I lose a point. After you’ve cycled two miles to earn a point, believe me, you won’t want to lose it. So those are some shiny teeth. If you chose to do this, I’d make it about a tiny activity that take no more than five minutes out of your day.
- Decide how many coins you earn for each activity and how much treats cost you. This is a matter of trial and error — you want to feel like you get treats pretty often if you’re really hitting it. If it take too long to earn anything, you’ll lose heart and if it’s too easy you might not push yourself at all — play around with it and see what gets you the best results.
- Buy a whiteboard and a dry erase marker. Write your name at the top and then ‘Gold Coins:’ and below that ‘Blue Coins:’. Update it each day. You can also keep a lifetime total if you want to.
Some notes: You can call it one coin or 100,000 coins if that motivates you more. It’s only an imaginary unit of measurement. Also, I did let myself go ‘into debt’ a couple of times if something big came up and I didn’t have the coin right then to buy it. Just make your whiteboard say something like ‘Gold Coins: -25’ and then work your way back to a positive number.
I can’t begin to say how much I’m enjoying this. There may be a lot of reasons I’m so productive right now (it’s ‘Go Big or Go Home’ time) but I don’t know how I’d make it without the point system right now — it’s that important to my progress.
Best of luck! Let me know if you have any questions, and tell me about your successes!
2021 Update: I must have only done this for the month but I LOVE my enthusiasm Whatever moves you forward…
Katherine’s points (for reference):
Do Richard Hittleman’s 30 minute yoga program — 1 coin (actually one of each color, by I call it one)
Write for 30 minutes — 1 coin
Go cycling — 1 coin for each 2 mile stretch
Clean the house (one load of dishes and ‘pick up’ around house) — one coin
‘Just Dance’ video game done on ‘just sweat’ medium program (10 minutes of dancing) — one coin
Go for a hike/walk — one coin for each mile walked
My perfect day (earns a bonus point):
At least two hours of writing
At least one form of exercise
Some treats (and their cost for me):
Gold coins —
32 oz soda — 5 coins
Candy bar — 5 coins
Shake, Starbucks, or Smoothie Planet drink — 10 coins
Carton of Ice cream, package of cookies — 15 coins
Eating at Mcdonalds, Wendys etc — 10 coins
Eating at a nice sit down restaurant — 20 coins
Blue coins —
one MP3 song — 5 coin
one album — 20 coins
Movie ticket — 25 coins
DVD — 20 coins
Other items: 2x — 3x coins to each $1 spent
Remember: This is a game! Play around with it and find what motivates you.