This week we continue our exploration of the strategies put forth by Jane McGonigal, author of SuperBetter, by discussing allies.
Gamers use allies in helping them overcome obstacles and complete quests. In everyday life, we, too, can enlist the aid of friends and family. What’s different about the concept of allies in SuperBetter is that we are asking our friends and family to play along with us, as opposed to doing for us. We are doing the quests and they are providing social support to help us stay focused and motivated.
McGonigal cites research showing that the more positve social interactions you have each day translates into a longer life expectancy. Having someone in your corner pays off.
Allies can support you in a number of ways. They can help you think up new quests, suggest ways to energize or fortify yourself, keep you honest with your progress, and join you in celebrating your successes. One SuperBetter player recovering from a debilitating bicycle accident had allies that suggested quests to get him out of the house and walking: buy a flower for his wife, buy toys for his cat. One ally even sent him $15 for a beer at a local pub, but only if he walked a mile around the park first.
While some SuperBetter players use friends and family as allies, others want support, but not necessariy from those people who are closest to them. It is possible to solicit support from members of discussion forums and other online groups.
Once you have found someone who knows the challenge you’re facing, understands what energizes you and has a concept of the dragons you’re battling, you can invite them to play as your ally. Their role is to check in with you periodically and offer support in ways that you would find meaningful. This support could be for as short a time as a week or as long as you needed them and they were willing to play.
Who is someone you could ask to help you with a goal you’re trying to achieve?