When the struggle is no longer interesting, any time the rewards aren’t fulfilling, question the game that you’re playing.
Every single day we wake up and play by a specific set of rules. We all know what will happen if we break those rules, and we know what we hope to achieve by adhering to them.
Oftentimes breaking the rules is either difficult or unwise. However stepping away from them in support of another set? Setting them aside, opting instead to play another game? It’s an option everyone has.
This is an option we’re encouraged to ignore, of course. Pop culture is filled with instances of people winning the game, and we celebrate all those who win in a impressive fashion. Tradition and common sense are pervaded with suggestions that storing our dice, putting away our pieces, and reaching for another box that contains a different board and set of instructions can be dangerous. Harmful. It is a foolhardy thing to do, we are told. Maybe you will end up playing a more difficult game. Perhaps the rewards for winning won’t be as attractive. Maybe you will be forever filled with regret that you simply didn’t stay the course and keep playing the first one, despite how intellectually listless this made you feel. Maybe it is a character flaw, this inability of yours to play boring games simply because that is the socially acceptable thing to do.
Deciding on one game over another is not a judgement upon the one you pull away from: it is a decision to find something which is not just potentially winnable, but in addition a joy to play from your personal standards.
It is an act predicated on the recognition that you simply don’t get another go around – should you spend your entire life with this set of rules, this reward system, this collection of dice and cards and little plastic pieces, then that’s and always would be the framework for everything you do.
Stepping outside of that world and into a new one – trying out a new basis for success, a new concept of failure, a new mechanism of achieving forward-movement, a brand new convention for interacting with other players – lets you experience a novel pace, state of play, as well as metric of success.
And perhaps you won’t enjoy that one, either. Perhaps you will work your way via dozens or 100s of games before you find one that aligns with your ambitions and strengths, your moral predilections and ideals.
But so what? So what if this takes you time to find your bearings?
So what if you continue playing new games, forever?
I would argue that it is a better sign of strength and ambition to be willing to set aside something that is not working in favor of someday finding something that does, than to stubbornly stick to what we know is unfulfilling, and likely always will be.
There is nothing wrong with playing games that are not instantly fulfilling, and there is a lot we can gain knowledge from such challenges. But it is essential to be able to step out of that game, away out of those rules, and look at where we’re sitting and also with whom. In order to consider how we are spending our time, as well as realize that there is an entire world of other games available to play, should we choose to pull them down out of the box.
To recognize we’ve a choice about – and responsibility for – the way we spend the limited amount of time we have got.