Sometimes life is like a video game, and you reach a point where it seems like there's nothing to do but wait. Maybe you're in between jobs or are being held back by something beyond your control, but you can always take this time to level up, help others, and find a way forward.
This post originally appeared on Classically Trained
Do you ever find yourself waiting? If you are into video games, maybe you are waiting for the next great game to be released. As an employee, perhaps you are waiting for a promotion or waiting for five o' clock. Singles are often waiting to find Mr or Ms "Right", just as students are eagerly awaiting the completion of their degree.
Expectant parents are waiting for the baby to be born, as many family members are just waiting for their sick loved one to get better. Many are lonely and just waiting for someone to notice them.
Let's face it, we are all waiting on something. In fact, gamers have been doing a significant amount of waiting ever since games were first designed. I remember plenty of waiting when a new game was being installed on the computer or loading from a CD.
Some games and systems were worse than others, but I remember the Neo Geo CD being among the worst violators. There is nothing quite like sixty second load times before a battle in a fighting game, only to find yourself staring at another load screen after a thirty second fight.
Developers began to find clever ways of disguising load times, or at least giving players something interesting to do while they were waiting — like the interactive "now loading" text from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night — but the bottom line is that waiting is inevitable. What you do while you wait is the important part. First let's take a look at a couple of typical responses that we can have to waiting, and what we can learn from all those years of staring at load screens.
How We React Ro Unwanted Load Times
Impatience can lead to anger — and as Yoda says — anger leads to hate and suffering.
I have seen far too many gamers angered by excessive load times or barriers that exist in a game that prevent progress.
I think back to the first Sonic the Hedgehog game on the Sega Genesis. If you left Sonic standing still for more than a few seconds, he began tapping his foot waiting for you to input a command. Seriously, even the video game is getting impatient now.
Not waiting can kill a career, a relationship, or even put your life at risk. Almost a decade ago, my impatience while driving resulted in my car being totalled, and could have resulted in serious injury.
Indifference in many ways is the opposite of anger. Waiting can drain our energy, and even our passion. It may result in us developing a careless attitude, which can also have profound consequences. When we disengage, we don't play our best, our work is sub-par, and our relationships are slowly bled dry.
Indifference is more dangerous than impatience in some regards, since it is deceptive and leads to a demotivated state that can greatly impact our overall well-being.
Think back to a time when you were playing a video game and realised that you did not even care about it. You were just wasting time, lives, in-game resources, you name it — the game became a burden, or even began to feel like work. When we get disconnected to our "why" this is what eventually happens.
Deciding To Take Action
The third response to waiting falls into the difficult balance between impatience and indifference. I like to refer to this mindset as adopting a realistic preference.
We identify what we prefer as an outcome, but are also brutally honest with ourselves, that reality might just take a bit longer than we wish. When we take this stance, we can then ask ourselves really good questions like "What can I do while I am waiting?"
Well, I have a couple of answers that come to my mind, that I will share:
What To Do While You Wait
Grind For Money And Rare Drops
I mean this quite literally — you might try to use your free time to make some money. Let's say that you are waiting for a promotion or searching for the perfect job. If you are looking to increase your available cash, there are really only two ways to do this:
- Increase your income
- Decrease your spending
Now I know that's pretty darn obvious, but let's look at a couple of ways that we can do both. When it comes to increasing your income, you can look for the perfect job or wait on the promotion, but if we are looking to initiate action, then what else can we do?
You can get a second job, maybe something part-time. That will increase your income in the short run. You can also start up your own business. I promise that it is not as difficult as it sounds, if you're just thinking of selling things on eBay, craigslist, or etsy, for example. It has never been easier for anyone with a computer to make money.
What about decreasing your spending? Well, the best way to do that is to make sure that you have a really accurate budget, and stick closely to it.
My wife and I found almost $300 a month that we were spending on eating out and other little things. What would you do with another $300 a month? You could pay off a car, a student loan, or make extra payments on the mortgage. I can't tell you how good it feels to have no monthly car payment!
And yes, my home is completely paid off too (in Animal Crossing, at least).
In almost every RPG, winning a victory over the enemy give you "stuff". This stuff can be money and rare drops, like we just discussed, but there is also another benefit from winning battles: Experience.
In fact, many games allow you to fight the same enemies over and over so that a patient player can level up their characters in such a way that they have a strong advantage over upcoming challenges.
In the Final Fantasy series (VI & VII especially) I found myself doing a fair amount of levelling up. I really enjoy putting the time in up front so that later on I can overcome difficulties at a much faster rate. In fact, one of the most demotivating things for me personally, is to rush ahead only to get stuck against a boss that I am too weak to defeat.
So while you are waiting, how can you build skills? Take a look at your job today — is there something more you can be doing to help you learn a new skill?
What about checking out a book on personal development, or taking some classes for a certification in your desired field? These are all great ways to take advantage of resources you might have available, because later on, you will be glad that you did.
Use Your Free Time To Help Others
Maybe you feel like you are doing everything that you can to develop yourself, and take advantage of the position you are in whole you are waiting, but what about those around you?
How can you help them, or even teach them about things you know?
Rarely, if ever, have I truly regretted supporting others. It is easy to tear others down, to criticise what they are doing. Supporting and recognising others can really go a long way.
There Will Always Be Load Times
As technology advances, so does the potential complexity — for this reason, load screens are here to stay. While waiting in life, and even video games, is unavoidable it does not have to be wasteful. Find ways to improve yourself or help others around you when you feel stuck facing life's loading screens.
What To Do While You Wait — Life's Loading Screens [Classically Trained]
Jon Harrison writes about effective leadership and personal productivity solutions made accessible through video game metaphor and analogy, delivered in a fun, engaging, and professional manner at ClassicallyTrained.net. His book "Mastering The Game: What Video Games Can Teach Us About Success In Life" will be available early 2015.
Image adapted from whiteisthecolor (Shutterstock)