So - like many of you, I spend a SHAMEFUL amount of time playing games on my phone, specifically match three puzzle games like Bejeweled and Candy Crush or point and shoot games like King's Bubble Witch Saga 2 and Bubble Witch Saga 3. My husband mocks my "lame" (his words, not mine) choices of gaming pass-time, but I don't care 'cause it's fun, dang it!
Once when talking to a friend about changing careers, she asked "What do you like to do?" My response was, "Line up matching colors and shapes like in Bejeweled." Then, we both had a good laugh, since being obsessed with playing Bejeweled does not necessarily make a great career path. Or does it?
"What is Bubble Witch Saga?", you ask. It's a game similar to the Bubble Shooter arcade game from the 90's. The main premise is you point and shoot colored bubbles into a grouping of multi colored bubbles. If you match three colors, than the bubbles burst. Generally, the point is to clear all of the bubbles from the screen in a given amount of time or with a specific number of tries. And I LOVE it!
But playing it has made me think about "how" I play it and whether or not games like this have some lessons that I could apply to my career and life.
1) Take the higher shot
In this game - you are generally more successful when you take a higher shot. If you have multiple shots that are about the same difficulty, go for the higher one. It almost always results in more points and it's fun to watch all of the bubbles fall!
So if you have the chance to shoot for something higher, why not give it a try? It's so easy to focus on the possibility of failure. I get it. But recently I've been asking myself (and I mean asking myself A LOT), "Why not?" If other people can make money blogging or selling yarn spun from their cat fur or whatever, then why not me? The answers to "Why not" can be hard to pin point. My answers are often, "because I don't want to embarrass myself" or "because I'm scared" or "because it will be hard" or "because it will take too long"...I could go on and on.
The more honest I am about the real reason "why" I'm not trying something, the easier it is to do it. So whether it's applying for a new job, jumping in on a project or opportunity, or learning how to make the perfect poached egg, I say go for it!
2) Take the harder shot
And that leads into number two, taking the harder shot. In "Take the higher shot", I described two shots with the same difficulty. But what about two shots where one is harder, but will yield a better reward (coincidentally, this is often the higher shot)?
Generally, taking the harder shot will reap more reward and feel super awesome because you just made an awesome shot! It definitely does NOT always work out. Sometimes taking the harder shot can backfire and backfire badly (I mean in real life now, not the game).
Look - I once had a dream to be a successful Opera singer. I worked at it, I studied, I auditioned, I performed, but I never really got hired for that many gigs or was willing to make some of the sacrifices it would have taken to have more success. When I decided to focus on my business career, I felt (and still do sometimes) like a complete failure because I didn't achieve the dream I thought I wanted. But do I regret spending 16 years trying to launch that career and failing? No. I got the opportunity to see, hear and study so much wonderful music. I learned discipline and focus. So no, I don't regret it.
A few months ago, I left a good paying job to launch a start up and also start my own home based business. Was this easy? No. Am I terrified that I will go into financial ruin? Yes. Do I regret trying, even if I fail? No. I'm happier than I have been in years and so even if I fail, I will look back on this time with a smile.
Review the shot, weigh the benefits vs. cost, then line it up and shoot!
3) Remember what you're trying to accomplish
Playing Bubble Witch, it can be easy to get side tracked with trying to pop all of the bubbles or getting to those extra turn bubbles, but if the goal is to free owls or whatever, then by focusing on other actions might hinder successfully completing the level.
Like so many platitudes, this is soooooo much easier said than done. Whether you're in the weeds or can't see the forest through the trees or just weighed down by details, it can be hard to stop and make sure that what you're doing has value.
I LOVE details! I love data and details and minutia - yeah that's right, I said it! However, when something is taking longer than I planned it to, I have to stop and ask myself two questions:
I most often ask this when I'm formatting a spreadsheet and behind on a deadline. Am I doing this because I want the spreadsheet formatted this way, but no one else could care less? Or am I providing value, either short term or long term? If it doesn't provide value, then why am I doing this?
Generally, this would help me stop, wrap it up and move on. In some cases, I had to dig a wee bit deeper and acknowledge that I was doing it because I needed something easy or familiar to work on over something harder that I needed to tackle or needed a break but felt too busy to take one. In those cases, I just tired to acknowledge that I was doing it for myself and enjoy the colors or formulas I was making!
4) Help others
The Bubble Witch games (and many other games) allow you to send and receive lives to other game players. So - after you've blown through your five lives, you can get a couple more tries from other players sending you lives.
Ok - this is kind of silly, but it does reinforce my belief that we should help others at work or in life. In this case, I'm talking about doing the little things that aren't that big of a deal for me, but might really help someone else, especially at work.
A year or so ago, I had a colleague who was new and thrown into a new project. He was struggling and I felt bad because he was trying to learn some new stuff (new to our company) that I had already had some experience with, since I had been in his exact shoes a few months earlier. So - I tried to spend some time with him when I could to teach him some tricks or helping try to figure out why things weren't working. I really did it because I'm a total Hermione Granger know-it-all and like to have all the answers. And I felt bad for the guy!
We have both since left that company and touched bases a couple of months ago. He mentioned how much it meant to him that I took the time to try and help him figure out issues and give him tips, despite my own harried deadlines. I honestly had forgotten about it - but his thanking me really stuck with me. So - don't forget to help others if and when you can. It could mean much more than you know!
5) Replay lower levels
I like to go back and replay lower levels when I'm low on lives or when I'm struggling with something. In Bubble Witch Saga 2, the Ghost levels are supposed to be the easiest, but I SUCK at them! So much so that I dreaded playing new ones. So, I decided to go back to the beginning and play only the Ghost levels. It helped me see some patterns for success and now I kind of enjoy them.
Sometimes it's good to go back to the fundamentals or as I like to call it "Retrospective perspective". We don't always have to rush to the next level or accomplishment. Reworking something old or familiar can be very rewarding. You can learn something new or see a pattern you had not noticed before.
One of my favorite quotes about music (and I had to look it up to get the exact quote) is from Artur Schnabel. He stated "The sonatas of Mozart are unique; they are too easy for children, and too difficult for artists." What this has always meant to me is that, I could always pound my way through a Bach prelude on the piano or sing "Voi che sapete" from Marriage of Figaro. But these "easy" numbers are actually very hard to bring the music to life as an artist. But it's so fun to try!
Simple isn't always easy, but easy can teach you how to elevate something simple to something amazing.
Copyright 2017 by Amy Swanson
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