Motivational Buffs and Debuffs in Real Life

Have you ever considered monitoring your daily progress through keeping track of motivational buffs and debuffs? This may seem like a concept of gamifying life, and while there is that aspect as well, I am mostly approaching this from a slightly different angle of bad vs. good choices or habits and how those decisions ultimately stack up and affect us.

Motivational buffs are actions that we take that benefit us in some way. It may require some energy, such as exercising for 30 minutes or doing weekly meal prepping. So, envision that exercising (especially initially) may require -2 of your energy in that moment. But for the next few days, it may be supplying a +1 of energy every day or +1 for restored sleep every night. Or for weekly meal prepping, it may take -4 of planning your meals, shopping for groceries, preparing and cooking the ingredients, and storing them for the week. But throughout the week, you might be experiencing +1 in energy or +1 in time efficiency.

Debuffs work the other way. They might add to something in the short-term, but take away in the long run. So, eating a pint of ice cream may be +2 in energy boost in the moment. Then, you might experience -2 in getting adequate sleep or -1 in mood for the next few days.

These buffs and debuffs, like in a game, can stack and snowball. So if you eat a pint of ice cream one night, you might not sleep well and feel crappy the next day. So that day, you may decide to skip the gym and stay home watching Netflix all day. You feel unproductive, and that debuffs your mood for some time. And then, your whole week spirals out of control.

Motivational buffs can work in the same way. I’ve been having an odd few weeks up until now, so the other day, I decide to turn things around. Yesterday, I got some errands done. I also went for a walk, and went to sleep early that night. Today, I woke up early and attended a coaching call. I also went for a walk midday, enjoyed two good meals, and will be going to the gym later on. I’m also writing this blog post right now. And a bit earlier, I recorded part of an original song. There were a bunch of other motivational buffs, some that are part of my routine (e.g. drinking plenty of water, getting sunlight, washing my face, combing my hair, sorting laundry, washing some dishes, making my bed, reading books, etc.). And admittedly, there were a few debuffs in there that I didn’t completely avoid (e.g. playing Tricky Towers when feeling fatigued, sitting down a fair bit, eating a large meal from outside). But compared to previous days, I’m feeling much better today. Going for a walk midday seemed to boost my energy as well.

Off-days are bound to happen, such as when you get sick or for whatever reason cannot get much sleep. Or, you might experience some life event that throws you off (e.g. lose your job, lose someone close to you, financial loss, etc.). Otherwise, it’s good to keep some sort of baseline of habits/routine so that you don’t essentially plummet and lose all your momentum. And in case you ever do fall off, starting off with anything small that you can do can help.

For me, small habits that I maintain to stay at a relatively good baseline are:
– Drink more water
– Wash my face
– Brush my teeth
– Change my clothes
– Eat meals regularly (at least once upon waking and once in the evening)
– Comb my hair
– Talk to someone, anyone
– Stretch or walk

Pretty much if I can do those things, then I feel I at least took care of myself, and that this will lead me to have more energy later on to focus on creative work or do something meaningful. These are all motivational buffs that stack up to a relatively good mood from day to day.

I haven’t been keeping track of my habits lately, but I do have a built-in habit tracker in my planner. When it looks empty and the habit is important to me, I’ll purposely go out of my way to do more and fill in the tracker. (I haven’t used this website/app in a loooong time, but also has a habit tracker that you can check in with daily. Might consider this again!)

Motivational buffs do not necessarily have to be daily habits. It could be something as simple as running an errand like I had mentioned before. Or, it could be a therapy/coaching session. It could be a massage or a pedicure. It is whatever you do that ends up benefiting you after the action has already took place.

Debuffs are something that may be good (or even bad!) in the moment, but that end up ultimately harming you over time. It could be drinking to the point of blackout. It could be smoking a cigarette. It could be yelling at someone.

Because I have played Sims 4, I kind of like to think about the stacking buffs and debuffs next to the character and how it influences their primary mood. I’m used to getting ideas late into the night and feeling inconvenienced by the timing. But today, after having a loooong night’s rest (sleeping early and waking early), I got some inspirational ideas after my midday walk! It was quite refreshing to have it at a convenient time when I could actually flesh out the ideas more.

I know this is a game analogy essentially, but it really works. I actually got the wording for this based on a video by Dr. K, a Twitch streaming psychiatrist. (Hello Dr. K and his audience if you’re reading this!) It’s not a new concept by the way, but just worded a particular way (with gamer language).

Motivational buffs may not work right away, especially if you’ve been stacking debuffs for some time that are leading to exhaustion, stress, anger, and more. For me, I still feel some lag time for my energy to catch up. But, it’s definitely better than the days before, that’s for sure!

And, to say that I’ll avoid debuffs completely, that’s a lie. I’m tempted by lots of debuffs on a daily basis. But if at the very least I work on implementing long-term habits, that will help shift my days into a higher baseline overall.

I didn’t always used to change out of my pajamas every day, for example. That became something I would do daily when I noticed how tired I was on meds and how changing my outfit helped me to want to be more active throughout my day. It also would cut down time in getting ready later in the day to go out such as to the store or with friends. It was such a game-changer in mood and energy that I decided to always change out of my pajamas every morning, even if I was sick at home all day. Nowadays if I delay changing into day clothes, I feel off, so I try to do this immediately upon waking.

I don’t meditate every day, and I hadn’t previously noticed the benefits. But, that is also something that I’m considering to try. I barely ever intentionally meditate at all these days. Though honestly, I kind of do get a bit into a meditative state while walking and such. I stay grounded by noticing my environment and by tuning in with my body. It’s similar, aside from it being more active (walking) vs. sitting. Perhaps I’ll consider intentionally doing a walking meditation and seeing how that translates to a motivational buff.

Today especially after getting through a series of motivational buffs, I was able to take the next steps in my creative projects. One was to respond back to a producer on an original song I’m working on. The other was to get down an idea for another original song. Soon, I’m sure I’ll be following through with the producer and then working on my first full draft of the song. I had been holding back from working on music for the past 2-3 weeks, basically after feeling crappy one day and the effects snowballing. So, viewing my days as a series of motivational buffs/debuffs helped get me back on track. Basically, I hacked my “productivity” (for lack of better terminology) through motivational buffing. 😀

So if you’re experiencing a series of crappy days such as low productivity, low energy, bad mood, etc., try listing your motivational debuffs/buffs for the past few days. You don’t even have to write them down per se, but just mentally note them. Then ask yourself, what is one motivational buff that I can do right now? Maybe if you’ve already spent the whole day gaming, you could at least brush your teeth or go to bed early. Maybe if you’re already up late at night, you could listen to a meditation and relax. Or if you’re feeling tired the next morning, drink a fruit smoothie. If it helps, think of yourself as a Sims character and what you can do to boost your mood/energy (in the long-run, not just immediately!) in a way that will allow you to achieve your target/goal. And even if you have no such target/goal, you could think of something you’re looking forward to (such as an event), and how those motivational buffs will boost you in preparation for it.

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.