When you quit gaming, you won’t magically turn into some successful person with a great job, a relationship with a great partner, and a better body.
Quitting games is tough, especially in the first few weeks, and you likely won’t see much progress on other aspects of your life for the first few months, perhaps longer. You’ll also likely feel depressed and have a sense of loss during your first few weeks.
After a year of quitting games, I’m still some pale guy with the same office-chair posture because now I code and write when I stare at a screen all day instead of playing games.
I’m still not a social butterfly and haven’t developed as many deep relationships as more extroverted people. Quitting games didn’t change my personality or temperament. I still have social anxiety and general anxiety when alone.
I still have addictive tendencies and must be continually watchful for other addictive behaviors and thought patterns.
So why stop gaming?
Quitting games simply provides you with the raw material to build a better life: time.
How you invest this newfound time determines the extent of your personal growth. You won’t see an immediate return on this invested time in building skills or relationships. It’s not the short feedback loop that games provided. Returns are usually realized weeks, months, or sometimes years later.
If you begin a new skill, it could take years before you turn the skill into a career.
One way to counteract the slower burn of real-life skills is to spend time on healthy experiences, such as hiking or a road trip. Reward milestones for building a new skill with these experiences to take the drudgery out of the grind. But here’s the best way to take the blow out of real-life leveling.
Find a purpose
One issue that draws us to games is our lack of purpose. Games provide clear-cut goals with a firm sense of progression toward achievements.
Life is open-ended. If you lack a defined purpose with goals and plans to achieve those goals, then life lacks an end game and has no meaningful achievements.
Finding your purpose isn’t easy. But once you do, this provides meaning to the grind of building new skills. With a purpose that excites you, investing time in real life skills won’t feel like work. You will eventually look forward to building your chosen skill with the same enthusiasm as you did games.
Explore your purpose by asking these questions
What do you want to be remembered for?
What skills have you started building which provide value to others and that you enjoy doing?
If you have no existing valuable skills, then explore marketable skills which match your interests. Test drive each skill to see what which one captures your interest and energizes you.
Once you’ve targeted a skill, hone it for at least two hours daily for two to four weeks. If you see it turning into a long-term career, then keep at it with the eventual goal of mastery. After around 20 to 40 hours, if it’s not what you thought it would be, then explore a different skill.
But do not keep jumping from one skill to the next every few months once the going gets tough or you will never achieve mastery. Building a skill will have its low points and it will sometimes feel like drudgery. This aspect of learning a skill is described in Seth Godin’s The Dip. After the honeymoon period, building a skill may start to feel like work, this is The Dip.
The key to skill selection is deciphering which skills are worth continuing and which can be dropped.
Skills required for a dead-end careers with minimal future growth are not worth the continued time investment. On the other hand, a skill which you enjoy that also has excellent market demand is worth the time investment even if it’s not your current job. You can gradually transition to work which uses your target skill.
Transition to your target skill
For example, if your target skill is writing, then your current job may not utilize this skill. You can either ask your boss for a lateral move to a position which utilizes the skill or ask to take on a project which utilizes the skill.
If a lateral move isn’t possible, you can moonlight with freelance or part-time work. Once you have enough writing work to sustain your personal expenses, then you can give up the job with the low value skill and write full-time.