This is an article from NF Rebel Writer, Daniel Thrasher
Have you ever watched a professional gamer play Starcraft on the computer? Seriously, just watch a few seconds of this:
These guys are insane… their fingers fly over the keyboard like hummingbird wings, and their pointer finger taps the mouse button so fast it sounds like a machine gun going rat-a-tat-tat. When professionals play a real-time strategy game, they’re always doing something; usually they’re juggling five or more competing goals at the same time (attacking, defending, building, scouting, and so forth).
In fact, one of the most common ways to measure the skill level of a professional real-time strategy player is in “actions per minute.” In a game of Starcraft, it doesn’t matter whether the player is researching new technologies, issuing commands to their military units, or training a new worker – every click and stroke of the mouse or keyboard counts as an action!
These players usually hit hundreds of actions per minute, up to 300 (APM) being normal for pros and some even top out as high as 600 APM! That’s up to 10 actions per second in a typical game, which is crazy fast! (In fact, I strongly urge you not to try this at home. Your wrists will hate you…)
Professional or a newb, any player in a real-time strategy game cannot afford to be paralyzed by choice… sitting around in a state of inaction and thinking instead of doing something, right now, is going to get you clobbered.
Every action we take in these games, or on the quest to lose weight and gain muscle, takes us one step closer our goals. When we fail to take action, we slowly get overtaken by the enemy swarm of inaction, laziness, and a sedentary lifestyle.
You don’t need to be a fan of these RTS games to take advantage of this “actions per” mindset, and today I’m going to show you how it has been the missing ingredient from you taking action in your own life.
Simply focus on raising your Actions Per Day, and start winning life.
Success Based on Actions Per Day
The gamers use actions per minute (APM), but we’ll be using actions per day (APD).
STOP stressing so much about any single decision.
Instead, look at your total actions over a month. How? By measuring progress in actions per day for at least one week – ideally, for a full month.
For instance, if you’re going to tackle a new exercise goal, here are some actions you can count…
- Did you weigh yourself? That’s one action.
- Did you hit the gym for a workout today? One action.
- Did you click the order button on a new pull-up bar? One action.
- Did you swap out fries in favor of veggies at dinner tonight? One action.
By consciously focusing on taking as many single actions as you can each day, you’ll make so much more progress than you ever could with the haphazard “when-I-feel-like-I-have-time” method.
Some actions you will take are going to be habitual. It might be difficult to start running or eating veggies, but eventually it’s going to be a breeze. These are the best ways to accrue actions because while they may difficult at first, they get easier and easier until they don’t even feel like work. Eventually, you are living a healthier life on auto-pilot.
One-time actions are basically anything else that helps you pursue your fitness or health goal, like signing up for a gym membership or learning to cook a meal. (FYI: Research and reading are great, but for this challenge, they don’t count as an action. Nice try!)
Hopefully, you’ll start counting habitual and one-time actions like these:
- Did you go for an afternoon walk?
- Did you cut out one soda from your normal consumption today?
- Did you make yourself a healthy lunch?
- Did you try a new veggie?
- Did you finally try deadlifting or that new exercise you’ve been researching?
- Did you do yoga today? Or do those mobility stretches?
Over the course of a week, those points really add up, and all it takes is a point here and there to make some serious progress on the path toward a healthy, fit life.
Now, just like in Starcraft, not ALL actions you take are going to be perfect, correct, or even move you in the right direction. But the more times you take action, the more you’ll learn how things change as a result, and the more likely you’ll be in the future to learn and take more informed action. BUT ACTION IS THE KEY!
Remember, we need to get you out of your head and out in the real world DOING stuff.
I want you to start by promising to do just one action per day toward your health and fitness goal. It can be anything – but you have to start somewhere. If you’ve accumulated even just a few total actions by the end of the first week, then you’ve already taken those precious first steps on your journey.
Helpful hint: After coming up with your APD strategy, schedule those actions. If you them on your calendar, you’re more likely to follow through and get your actions counted.
An Example Week of APD
Here you are reading this article. I know what you might be thinking. “How the heck is this going to get me healthy?”
Having tried to get healthy once, twice, or more than a few times, tomorrow you’re going to do at least ONE thing (you’re not just going to try). Then, apply the APD strategy, and focus just on a single action per day, or a total of 7 total actions for your first week.
Here’s an example of what a full week looks like.
Remember, every day that you do an action that improves your health – or deliberately avoid an action that hurts it – you can count each of those actions as an APD!
Day 1: For your first new health habit, you decide to ditch one of your afternoon sodas at work – one of the ones you use to get through the afternoon slump. That’s 1 APD you can count on your first day.
Day 2: You stick to the new habit and avoid a soda, but you find yourself lacking energy and want a boost, so you snack on some nuts and fruit at 3 pm. A healthy snack and no soda counts as 2 APD for your second day. Nice! You’re already at 3 actions total for the week.
Day 3: Still no soda, plus a healthy afternoon snack, and you’re feeling pretty good. Pumped about your progress, you decide to go for a quick walk around the neighborhood after work. Nothing too big, but you feel good about it. You pick up 3 APD on your third day, bringing your total for the week to 6 actions so far!
Day 4: These new habits are sticking, and you think 7 total actions by the end of the week was too easy (just one per day, pssh!). Way to crush it! You start brainstorming how to get your total actions up to 14 by the end of the week (maintaining an APD of 2). Should you focus on moving more? Or eating better? Well, you know you eat too much sugar with dessert after dinner, so that’s your next goal: cutting your dessert calories in half. It’s a step in the right direction, so with the skipped soda, healthy snack, and walk after work for at least 15 minutes, you clock a whopping 4 APD today, which makes 10 actions for the week.
Day 5: Uh oh. Your day is stressful today, and you slip up and have a soda instead of your healthy snack. With no more motivation, you skip your walk and have a big dessert after dinner too. Just when you want to throw in the towel, you remember you committed to a daily goal of just 1 APD, so you look for something… and do these four yoga movements before bed. You may not be converted into a yogi, but it just took a few minutes and felt good to do something for the day and try something new. That’s 1 APD for Day 5 and 11 APD for the week.
Day 6: Even though yesterday wasn’t your proudest day, you realize you’re still sitting at 11 actions that improved your health so far this week. “Holy crap, I did 11 things this week? Yesterday is just a blip on the radar” you think. With renewed confidence, you stick to your habitual actions of skipping the soda, walking after work, and cutting dessert altogether to make up for yesterday. That’s 3 APD and you’re back on track with 14 actions total this week. (You also research some gyms in your area, which is wonderful, but doesn’t count towards your APD until you actually take action and join one.)
Day 7: It’s the end of your first week, and you really want to boost your APD for the final day. In addition to the other four new habits you’ve been keeping up with, you take the plunge and sign up for a gym membership. Hey, signing up may be a one-time action, but it counts too! That makes 5 APD for Day 7, a total of 19 actions in just one week, and a whole lot of progress toward your health. Isn’t it amazing how quickly these actions add up when you stop focusing on any single thing?
From Zero (APD) to Hero
“Got No Patience For Sitting Around!”
– Starcraft Siege Tank Guy (1998)
After several false starts on my own fitness journey, the exercise habit finally stuck when I just started doing one simple bodyweight workout three times per week – no overthinking required. That really just added up to a goal of 3 actions the whole week, but it was doable enough, and it changed everything.
Soon I was off to bigger things, but it all started with zero actions per day. From zero, doing the beginner bodyweight workout three times a week was an epic win.
This is the story of literally every person who is now in shape. They started with zero and went from there.
Remember: You’re a battle-hardened military commander, you don’t have the luxury of sitting around and thinking about any single decision. Instead, start making decisions NOW, and adapt as you go.
Whenever you can, it’s smart to devote some attention to reconnaissance and scout what the enemy is up to – after all, it wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense to execute a plan without any planning whatsoever. But without doing something, anything right now, you’re destined to be destroyed by
the zerg swarm inaction and doubt.
Remember: Just take some sort of daily action – no matter what!
On the plus side, the stakes are rarely as high in real life as they are in a military space battle… you probably aren’t going to be blamed for the extermination of your entire civilization (probably).
So, if you have a million things you want to accomplish, just pick ONE goal, and get going now.
Why? Because that’s how you win this real-time strategy game we call “life”!
Tomorrow is a new day. Which action will you take first?
Let me know in the comments.