It’s cooler than you think.
I’ve always loved playing those dumb farming games. Harvest Moon has always been my jam. Animal crossing too, of course. Played them for most of my life, and there’s something about the relaxed lifestyle of the characters, the small town vibe, and the idea of striking it rich with cute pixelated pumpkins, that’s just beyond appealing. Not to mention the sense of mystery and magic they throw into the games as well – the idea that not everything is as it seems. It’s awesome, and a great way to keep yourself occupied when you otherwise feel like doing nothing.
Like I mentioned in this months magazine, I’ve started playing a new one, called Stardew Valley. I’m enjoying it like crazy, and on those nights when I feel particularly miserable, it’s a great way to pass the time and distract myself a little. It’s actually so much fun, and I super recommend it.
However, that’s not my point.
The thing is, I always go into these games at full force. Okay, we’re just starting out. So I’m gotta create a huge field and plant a hundred crops and pursue the person I’m going to marry and dive into the mines and get good at fishing and get a barn and–
Stands to reason I’d always feel slightly overwhelmed and end up just giving up before I get anywhere. And before you mention the fact that this is a perfect metaphor for how I live my own life, I already know that, thank you very much.
So in starting this game, I tried out something a little differently. I was gunna take it slow. Make a list of all the things I wanted to get done, and tackle one at a time, getting a little done each day, and not expecting any more from myself. I needed money in order to do anything, so I started by planting some starter crops. Then I wanted a fence to go around my garden, so I spend a few days chopping the wood to get that set up. After that, I wanted a path, and to purchase a few more seeds. From there, accomplishing one or two things in the span of a day game time, I’m now almost thirty hours into the game, making over a thousand gold every day, got four chickens and a cow, and well on my way to a fully established farm. Would that have happened if I tried to accomplish all that at once? No.
So I started thinking, as I so often do, why shouldn’t I apply the same strategy to my own life? Take things one focus at a time, accomplish a little bit every day (whatever that happens to be), and slowly but surely, I’ll be making progress. In game time, I managed to accomplish all that within three seasons. Imagine how far I can be in my own life within three months if I adapt to the same philosophy? Not only will I be minimizing my stress and anxiety, but I’ll actually be going somewhere.
Just like in the game, I’ve been pushing myself much to far, too fast, expecting myself to already have accomplished next month’s tasks before I’ve even established what those are going to be yet. And, not unlike what’s happened every other time I’ve tried to start a farm, I get overwhelmed, start feeling bad, and give up on everything before I can start seeing results. It completely takes all the joy out of everything, and soon I’m not having fun doing even my favorite of hobbies.
What’s the point in that?
So today, I’m adapting the farming method. I’m writing myself a list of all the things I want to have accomplished in the future, and what it’s going to take for me to get there. In the game, if I want to build a farm, I’m going to need ____ pieces of wood, ____ things of stone, and a bit of coal. Which means I’m going to have to spend a few days cutting down trees and mining, and I might even have to upgrade my axe in order to get all the supplies I need. So I’ll pick one of those small things, and work until I’ve accomplished it before moving onto the next thing. Might seem like I’m not getting anywhere, but a week later in game time, I’ve got a barn, fancy axe, much more mining progress, and a cow. All those things add up.
In life, my goal might be to get over my new found trauma issues. Alright, so what does that mean? I have to connect with a counselor, get support from my friends, find communities of like minded people online, book a doctor’s appointment, etc etc. So I take a day to meet with professional counselors and set up weekly meetings. Then I’ll chat with my friends and tell them what kind of support I need from them. Within a month of using this method, I’ll be much farther along than I would be if I had attempted to accomplish all that in a day or two.
Basically, I’ve rounded the strategy out to looks like this:
Establish what you want to cook, find the recipe, sort out the ingredients, and add them one at a time.
Pick a goal, figure out what steps you’ll need to take in order to get there, break it into daily steps, and start working at them a little bit at a time.
Who cares if I only spend ten minutes working on my music today, and that’s all I manage to get done in regards to my goals today? I’ve made progress. I’m further than I was before, and that further will continue to be added to, and before I know it, I’ll be busking on the streets and making a bit of spare change.
So here’s my challenge to you: how are you going to make the farming method work in your life? Do you find it’s working out well for you, or not? Again, all my ideas and strategies are really only experiments to see how I can start to make my life better, so I’d love to hear what you guys think, or what works for you. We’ll all figure it out together, right?