I came across an app called Fabulous a few years ago. You go on quests towards leveling up your energy and productivity by cultivating healthy habits. The habits give structure to your days as you go about living your life. Being an avid gamer, I love productivity apps that gamify real life. But after a while, it was too much work. I lost interest.

Fast forward to 2016 — my best friend drew me into an online game called Guild Wars 2. But it wasn’t the immersive world of Tyria or the dynamic, collaborative gameplay that kept me coming back. It was how your progress in the entire game could be measured — every quest, every story, every new area traversed.

I played everyday for the “dailies”. Complete a random list three of tasks and you were rewarded in gold. Sometimes the tasks were easy and I’d complete them before breakfast, boasting to an unimpressed husband. Sometimes, I had to spend hours traversing treacherous lands. I looked forward to being assigned a new set of dailies every day at 8 am. Completing them gave me a small spark of achievement I wasn’t getting from my job.

However, over time I no longer got a sense of achievement from the game, let alone any joy. On weekends, I could spend half a day on my computer, accumulating experience points while my real life went nowhere. I wished I could have that kind of dedication towards achievement in real life.

Then it hit me. I could.

I re-downloaded Fabulous. In the years I had been away, it had become smoother, sleeker, and most importantly — more fun. It’s illustrated like a storybook where you get to be the main character. Once I saw it as a game, I saw no barrier to diving right in.

The first three days you’re told to drink some water as soon as you wake up and read letters telling you you’re brave for making this first step. It was already a habit of mine (the only one left over from the first time I tried Fabulous) so I was itching for something more challenging.

Next, I had to make a point to eat a healthy breakfast. I started waking up early just so I could take my time whipping up a wholesome meal for myself.

A grueling challenge came three days later — eight minutes of exercise every morning. I couldn’t even remember the last time I had gone to the gym. But you’re allowed to keep it simple. I did yoga in my living room and danced to my favourite songs when I didn’t feel up for twenty sun salutations. If I fell sick, I opted for light stretches.

I eventually had to go on go on a “journey” — a set of challenges centred on a chosen goal. I chose to build my up focus and concentration.

  • The challenges weren’t always easy.
  • Write a to-do list every morning. (Easy.)
  • Identify 3 of the most important tasks on your to-do list. (Easy to do, difficult to carry out.)
  • Work for 25 minutes with no interruptions three days in a row. (Difficult.)
  • Block out distractions five times this week. (Extremely difficult. I don’t know how to live without wi-fi. It took me weeks to complete this.)
  • Write down what you’re grateful for every night. (Easier than expected. Today, I’m thankful for cakes.)

My therapist checked in on me and said I looked happier. I was pleased — I felt happier. I was much healthier, no longer waking up lethargic in the morning. I tried things I had only dreamed of. I made new friends in new places and connected with old friends. I began to express my creativity outside of work, something I had not done in a long time.

What began as a few simple habits in the morning had trickled into other parts of my life.

Make an adventure out of the mundane. It might be fun.