Friday, October 20, 2017

Life Lessons and Wargaming: Goals and Purpose

Hey Everyone!  Today I wanted to start a new article series about lessons in life but applying them to our hobby of Miniature Wargaming.  As we mature in our lives we discover little bits of knowledge that we carry with us through our time here on earth.  Some simple while others grander in nature.  Often times we are taught these lessons by a Parent, Close friend, and sometimes through hindsight.  What I find interesting about these lessons is how they can help someone improve their quality of life if the lesson is applied correctly and how they can be applied to every part of one's life.  This includes Miniature Wargaming.

What can The Terminator tell us about success in Miniature Wargaming?

Today I wish to discuss the lesson on having a goal to give you purpose and having the vision to see the goal to end will make you successful in this hobby.  While I feel everyone knows the benefits of having a goal to a lesser extent I find that they still continue their hobby journey with no substantial goals.  If they do have a goal it is often very short term.  Above you might be confused by the image of Arnold Schwarzenegger, but Vision, Goals, and Success methods he utilizes in his Career from Bodybuilding, Acting, and now Governing are universal and I hope to relate them to you here through the language of Miniature Wargaming. 

A goal is simply defined as "The result or achievement toward which effort is directed".  I would ask you, my reader, to take a moment and write down your Hobby and/or Wargaming Goal.  You may have a few goals or more goals than you find capable of being accomplished.  Now that you have your goals written down separate them into long-term and short-term and ask yourself some of the following questions.  Does your short-term hobby goal help me achieve my long-term hobby goal?  Do you have one key long-term goal for the hobby or many? Which hobby goals give you a sense of purpose for what you are doing and which do not (if any)?  Based on your hobby goals, what is your purpose?

I have done this exercise myself and wish to share it as an example to help with the understanding of what I feel is a necessary part of Wargaming, Hobby, as well as life, having goals.

Long-Term Goal(s):
Unify the U.S. Age of Sigmar Community without Homogenizing
Put out content beneficial for the Age of Sigmar Community
Create lasting friendships with hobbyists within the community around the world

Short-Term Goal(s):
Paint to a higher standard on my next army project
Complete Final Version of U.S. AoS Modular T.O/Player Pack with U.S. AoS Community Group
Add Models to Khorne Army
Add Models to Stormcast Army
Add Models to Sylvaneth Army
Play Aelves as primary army (return to my first love in Warhammer)

The difference between long-term and short-term goals are down to the individual creating the goals, but often times spending a bit of time critically thinking into each goal will sometimes cause a shift of a goal from one camp to another.  For example Completing the U.S. AoS Modular Pack was a long-term goal for me months ago, but as I thought about it more and more I saw it move to a short-term goal this is in part due to the nature of my long-term goals and some comparison between the two categories.  A long-term goal for a new hobbyist might be "Have a fully painted 2000pt army".  There is nothing wrong with this at all as it is a great goal, but over time it is good to know that having another painted army might shift to short-term or even off your goal list entirely.

Over time you might see goals disappear or change as you mature within the hobby and become more confident and begin taking deeper and deeper steps in Wargaming.  If you look above at my list I have noted about adding models to my forces and improving my painting skills, but I don't list anything about painting an army to completion.  A few years ago it would have been top of my list, but where I am at within my hobby journey I have painted numerous armies.  The concept of painting the army I am working on is so natural now that it is not a goal anymore.  It is just part of my hobby, if I begin a new army I will paint it so I have no need to list it as a goal.  The point is to not be afraid to reexamine and readjust your goals as you journey through the hobby.

 You might look at my long-term goals and say "Can you ever complete those?  Why set a goal that might be unreachable?"  My response is "Are you ever done with an army?  Do you feel that competition model is ever good enough?" I feel setting easily obtainable goals is missing the point, at least for the long-term goals.  Now I feel they need to be reasonable and obtainable, but they need to push you outside of that comfort zone so you are always reaching for more.  In every aspect of my life, I utilize goals like this, whether it is in my professional life, home life, lifting at the gym, or in my hobby journey as they give me purpose in what I am doing.

All goals give purpose no matter long-term or short-term or if they are easily attainable or not easily attainable which is the underlying point that can be missed by those who not regularly set or examine their goals.  Without purpose, you will be aimless and it will be near impossible to get very far in your hobby journey without a purpose.  That desire to achieve your goals is what will drive you forward and continually push you to do better than the last time and continually set higher and higher goals for yourself which will, in turn, push you even more.  It is a self-serving circle if you treat it as such and it is entirely for your own benefit to do so.  If you are a regular reader and thank you if you are, I believe you get a sense of my purpose in putting out posts regularly and to the schedule, I put forth.  Imagine if I had no real goal and therefore no purpose or drive to writing my blog, I doubt you would read regularly or at all as I wouldn't have the drive to give you something worth reading.  Early on I will admit I didn't know my purpose, but over time I set a goal for my blog and it has helped me ever since and I hope it comes across to you, the reader, as well.

So at this point, you have set goals and found your purpose with those goals.  So how do you begin achieving those goals?  The easy answer is to just do it and don't waste a minute in achieving the goals you have set for yourself, but even this will set you up to fail.  You need to visualize your goals, ingrain them into you by imagining them to keep focused on working toward them.  If your goal is to have a fully painted army (we will use this goal for the remainder of the article) then imagine that army painted whether you are working on it or out at the movie.  See yourself playing with it on the table and displaying it on a shelf in your room or house.  Perhaps put a few of the finished pieces as a phone or computer wallpaper so you keep seeing it in your mind.  This visualization will continue to inspire you after that first spark of inspiration fades and will help you continue on when you hit some of the low points working toward your goal.  In our example you might not be achieving the exact result you are after or find your color choices are off, but having that inspiration through visualization will help you push on and work through any issue.

Be sure to always give yourself a deadline that gives you a sense of urgency.  Be it an upcoming event, game, or a date of your choosing.  Without this sword above your head you can lose sight and despite you visualization of your goal you may become aimless and lose interest and fail at your goal.  Not that failure is a bad thing, but failure without giving it your all should make you mad.  Mad that you didn't put everything you had to succeed at your goal.  If you are going to fail, fail giving it all you have so you can still hold your head high.

The key, especially through the low times while working toward your goal is to keep doing.  To continue with our example don't ever quit painting your army if you set time aside to paint.  It is so easy to blow it off because you are tired or just don't feel like it at the moment, but the slope gets steep fast and each session is easier and easier to brush off.  The goal is gone and you visualize it less and less and the inspiration is gone.  If you set a goal keep up with working toward it.  Attack the goal and eventually, you will fall in love with the process of achieving that goal.  There are two good sources of external inspiration to help keep you motivated as well.  The first is those who support your visualized goal and offer encouragement.  The second and what I find to be a very good source are those who might feel you cannot accomplish your goal because it is too lofty or unreachable.  Proving this group wrong is great motivation, it lights your fire to not only achieve your goal but surpass it.  While I admit we have a good community with supportive folks you will still find those who might not be convinced that you can achieve your goal as you see it and while they are still supportive overall you can take the bit of doubt to fuel your hobby drive.

The goal of having a painted army requires different tasks that hobbyists can find mundane or tedious.  Sometimes they outrightly hate part of the process.  In our example goal let's look at the painting as this is typically the part people dislike the most or do not enjoy, but through your goal and visualization of the goal, you will begin to enjoy painting.  I am not saying there won't be boring or tedious times during the process, but they won't be an issue because you will find happiness in moving toward completion of your goal the more you do and as such falling love with the process, even if that includes painting.  This is important as by developing a love for the process of completing your goal you remove another barrier to actually working on your goal and remove excuses that keep you from the goal you are visualizing.  While visualizing your goal is tremendously important you must also keep in mind how to track your smaller wins, or goals within the goal if you will.  With our example completing a unit or hero can be considered a small win and they reinforce that you are on your way to achieving your goal of a painted army.  If you can, look for these small victories often to keep the inspiration going strong.

As we explored above goals will change as we move toward them from time to time.  You might find that as you are just about finished painting your army that your goal is now expanding the army or perhaps learning to play it to a high level.  They key here is that your hobby journey may start with a simple goal of painting an army, but it will evolve and the vision of that army will change.  Simply put, the journey does not end.  You have accomplished your original goal, but what has really happened is that you have gone that much deeper on your hobby journey and your goal has grown, your vision changed to be outside easy reach once again and hopefully, you still have the inspiration to chase it and grow alongside the journey.  There is always another step, there is always a way to do something better, there is always more to accomplish if you want it bad enough and can visualize yourself achieving your goals.

As you begin to see the next step as your goals change and grow to keep in mind that simply visualizing your goal is part of achieving the goal, but is not the actual action in achieving your goal.  Seeing that painted army in your head is key, but to achieve it you actually need to paint.  There can be a very uplifting feeling when you visualize your achieved goal, but do not let that feeling reward you, in the same way, that actually finishing the army will have on you.  Look at New Years Resolutions as a source for this false reward.  Each year millions of people resolve to finally get in shape and hit the gyms.  They do for a while, but they did not vision the result properly or they might have let the satisfaction they received by visualizing their ideal body alongside the encouragement from friends and family to work toward this goal be all they needed.  They stop going to the gym every day and eventually stop entirely and the cycle repeats the following year.  The reward should come from the actual accomplishment of your goal which should then inspire you to go after that next step.  You painted your army to completion, be satisfied with the completion, but look to go podium at a local tournament before you ever finish the last brush stroke.

Continue to set your bar higher, move that goal farther as you progress.  You are capable of more than you realize and one day you will realize that you have become the hobbyist you are visualizing yourself as right now.  Even then there will be more work ahead, more goals to reach, but you can do it if you set the goal, visualize the goal, fall in love with the process of achieving your goal, and never be satisfied after you accomplish your goal, stay hungry.

Until next week, Happy Hobbying.