Do you have the professional life you want? You’re helping clients who really light up your work days, doing work you find enjoyable and rewarding, and helps you feel part of a bigger purpose?
No? Or just, not quite?
I’ve been reading a recorded book, “Reality is Broken,” by Jane McGonigal, about the immersive, addictive nature of today’s online games. McGonigal’s idea is that for many people, theirreal lives don’t offer much in the way of a sense of purpose, teamwork, or community.
For them, reality is broken. It’s in online games that they find environments that have been carefully crafted to give them what they’ve been missing:
- They can “water” a friend’s virtual crops to help them achieve better yields on Farmville
- They can build themselves up as a powerful warrior, armed with fearsome weapons, on Worlds of Warcraft
- They can team up with gamers all over the world to smite alien invaders in “The Great War” on HALO.
Of course, none of it’s real, other than the real time and real money soaked up in front of the screen. It’s not like a real war, such as the Korean War illustrated in the memorial shown above on The Mall in Washington DC (note that Canada also participated in the UN military force).
As one who learned early on to dislike the world-conquest board game “Risk” in college dorms, I’ve never been one to put time into games. I’d rather put time into reality.
Change your reality, don’t substitute it for the unreal
If your current reality isn’t to your liking, change it. You don’t need a game.
You can get all the elements that these wonderfully-crafted alternative universes offer, from reality. You can build real friendships, do something that’s really worthwhile, and earn real money. It’s called your career. And yes, of course, good content can help you get there.
Consider the purported benefits offered by video games, as described in “Reality is Broken” (which I would heartily recommend as a fascinating, well-written account of an influential social phenomenon):
1. A sense of accomplishment and growth
Early on in my consulting career, I knew that public speaking would be an essential skill.
I was a dreadful speaker at the time, but I went online to find the nearest Toastmasters club, which is a global group with many chapters (www.toastmasters.org), that helps people become better speakers and leaders. I joined, and worked through their program for learning public speaking. I learned, stayed around to help coach others, and then moved on. But I learned the necessary skills, and I have real certificates indicating I was the “Best speaker” at several Toastmasters meetings. Now, I frequently get positive comments on the speeches I give.
More recently, I wanted to learn how to develop online courses. For some reason, and I’m not the only one to whom this happens, the video camera made me nervous, tongue-tied and unable to get three consecutive sentences out, without stumbling. My earliest three-minute videos took almost a day to shoot, re-shoot and then to edit out the rough bits. They had so many transitions that they looked like a jump-cut music video. Practice has really helped -- I’m now able to record a lesson with one take, with maybe two cuts to take out stumbles and garbled words.
The result has been a strong sense of accomplishment, a whole lot better than getting up one level in some first-person-shooter online game. So, ask yourself:
- What can you do now, that you couldn’t do a year ago?
- What skills will you pick up during the rest of the year?
- And, how can you develop content that either showcases your new skills, or talks about the benefits offered?
2. A sense of purpose and fulfillment
HALO gamers get a sense of purpose from helping stop a fictional invasion by aliens. There’s an online museum about “The Great War,” and each player (oops, sorry, “soldier”) has an online Service Record indicating their contribution to “saving” the planet.
I’d rather help work on saving a real planet, the one that all humans call home. My part in this struggle is to help people who have expertise to build a more sustainable world, connect with potential clients. That’s my personal calling.
Yours may be different. I know people with a passion for music, for helping seniors live better lives, for designing really functional websites, and other purposes. Whatever it is, you need to get your idea down in writing and then make it happen. Maybe there’s nothing much to your current occupation that excites you -- well, find out what would do that for you, and make it happen.
- What causes, needs and purposes really excite your sense of fulfillment?
- How much of that is in your working life right now?
- What’s your plan for being able to earn a living, or develop a substantial volunteer presence, doing what gives you that sense of purpose and fulfillment?
Content can show your expertise in your chosen calling, andyour enthusiasm for it can be infectious -- and you’ll draw to you opportunities for exercising your passion.
3. A sense of community and comradeship
World of Warcraft is well-known for its ability to instill a feeling of comradeship -- many of the “quests” involved are team efforts.
That’s something that can also be built in the real world. It involves seeking out people you can team up with, to offer solutions you couldn’t offer on your own.
I’ve worked with many people over the years, and while much of my work is done alone, I seek out ways to connect -- through professional organizations, through a steady stream of coffee and lunch meetings, through conferences and meetings.
What can you do to team up with other business professionals? How can you support others in their need for community?
Again, your content strategy can support case-study accounts of how you’ve helped meet clients’ needs through teamwork, and by describing the kinds of people you best enjoy working with, you’ll be able to reach more people like that.