For gamers who have spent years dedicating their free time to gaming, not developing hobbies, a career, taking care of their physical or mental health, or forming relationships, turning your life around and building up a meaningful existence can feel daunting.
Why some people invest their entire lives into gaming isn’t clear. For some, it might be the result of an addiction; for others, there may be underlying and unresolved issues that they may need to work out with a professional. There is also the possibility that you just really love gaming and don’t know much of anything else.
While gaming itself isn’t inherently bad, it is best done in moderation. Several studies have looked at the association between gaming and mental health. Even the World Health Organization recognizes a “gaming disorder” as when someone “gives priority to gaming over other interests and activities, and continue gaming despite negative consequences, such as impairments in their family relationships, social lives, work duties or other areas.”
Whatever your situation, if you feel like it’s time to change your life and start accomplishing things in the real world, then check out some of the suggestions below and see if they help you to start thinking about how you can take that first step on the long journey ahead!
Your first step should be to make a list of goals. To do this, you need to know what you want.
Are you still living at home but can’t move out because you aren’t earning enough money? Then you may need to work towards getting a college education or technical training in a career field that interests you.
Do you need to improve your lifestyle? Then learning how to cook healthy meals, proper dieting, and going to the gym should be first on your list.
If you had a hobby growing up or a creative outlet that interests you, then doing online tutorials to develop skills in the arts, taking local classes, or seeking out mentorship may be ideal.
Once you have your list, move on to the next section.
Trust That You Can
Remember the first time you picked up a game, and it was incredibly challenging? Then later, your character felt unstoppable because you mastered the mechanics of the game?
That’s just like real life. Early on you will struggle or fail. That’s a good sign. You are challenging yourself. If you stay committed to what you want and never deviate, you will start to see meaningful progress.
But don’t go in blind. You also need to be educated.
Learning Comes First
While you do have an ultimate goal in mind, nobody accomplishes the things they want without a lot of learning. Read books, watch TED talks, and go to forums where professionals in your interests meet and share ideas and lessons.
But don’t come to overly rely on others. It is easy to become lost in the success of others’ lives instead of building that life for yourself. So seek mentorship or advice from others, but don’t let them do the work for you.
At this point, all that you have to learn may make you feel like quitting now or retreating back into a video game. Don’t do this.
No More Games
Once you fire up a game, hours can disappear. That comfortable feeling that games bring may also leave you feeling uneasy about ever trying anything different. If you can’t break away from games, then it may be time to speak with a professional as soon as possible.
This isn’t to say gaming is entirely off the table. If you can put down the game when it’s time to get back to work, there is nothing wrong with unwinding with your favorite titles.
Sometimes it is best to take a more holistic approach to self-improvement to avoid burnout. If you are actively taking steps to improve your life, then there will be a moment where you just can’t bring yourself to invest any more time or effort. Stay fluid with your activities. It can be physical, creative, or something educational that is in a different field of study. Mix it up and see if that helps to avoid burnout.
Once you find that thing you want, aim to apply yourself to that thing for at least one hour a day, each day, over the next year. This is not a perfect formula, of course.
One hour of moderate-intensity exercise each day for 365 days should be enough to see meaningful results. But it may not be enough time to get good grades in a college class or develop the skills needed to become the kind of artist you want to be. What it will show you is that you can work towards something better with just a little effort. Then, hopefully, you extend that to two hours or longer.
This will hopefully help you see how a small change may lead to unexpected and positive results.