About a month ago, I was chatting to a friend, and we were comparing ways we deal with the infamous Jakarta traffic jams.
My friend told me that he could not survive if it wasn’t for being able to play Candy Crush on his phone.
I was actually quite surprised to hear these words from my friend, as I didn’t think this sophisticated and intelligent grown man would play something as frivolous as an arcade style game on his device.
I am not a computer games kinda girl myself, and I’ve happily ignored all requests to join Candy Crush in the past, knowing I didn’t have time in my life for such whimsical time-wasting.
But, this conversation piqued my interest. Then when I was travelling last month, in a moment of weakness or boredom or curiosity (or all three), I decided to download the game to my iPod. I made myself the promises that I would only access it on the one gadget, that I wouldn’t spend any money on the game, and that I wouldn’t let it take over my life.
Fast forward a month later, and I can say that this one silly game, in which you move patterns of coloured candies around and crush them, has not only given me a way to kill time while in traffic, but it has taught me a lot of other surprising things too.
- 1. Be persistent
When I first started playing I really had no idea what I was doing. I kinda just moved coloured candies around and seemed to get points and pass levels without really knowing how or why I succeeded.
Then, like life and like business as you go deeper into into, the levels got harder and I started to get the gist for what was actually going on. And I would get stuck, for DAYS, on one level and get so freaking frustrated I started to doubt my own intelligence.
I figured other people must have passed because they paid for more lives or they cheated in some way. It was so easy to find excuses for my own lack of success.
So it became, that much like I squeeze in coaching and blogging and other business matters into my evenings and weekends, I kept at the game even though I felt like disabling the app once and for all. I would play the game in my lunch break, in the car, while waiting for meetings, while waiting for my computer to turn on, and while watching my dinner cooking, and then finally, I cracked the level that seemed impossible. It was pure persistence that did it.
- 2. Be patient
One of the most annoying parts of the game is the limit of lives you have in each 30 minute cycle. When your lives are up, you have to wait to get more, or pay for more.
Because I promised myself I’d not spend a cent on this game, this has meant some pretty intense waiting times between cycles when all I want to do is get on with it, so I can try a new tactic or strategy for acing the level.
Patience has never been my strong point, in any area of my life. I always want it all, right now. Waiting really sucks.
Unlike my life, I have had to remind myself that this is just a game, it isn’t urgent, and I use the time to actually check in with reality and read an email or something else instead to distract myself.
This in turn has reminded me that when I am in those moments where I feel so stuck and like time is travelling so fast but my dreams and plans are sooooo slow, that it is important to check in, to see how far I’ve come, and to just take time out to breathe and to wait until the time is right in my life to make whatever it is I am waiting for to happen.
- 3. Practice really does make perfect
Oh gosh, some of the levels in Candy Crush really seem too hard and just not possible to master. I understand why it is called a Saga. I often feel like the saga will never end.
But with each game and each level, I learn a new strategy or uncover a new way of getting points and lives.
I have played the game so much recently that I have become really good at recognising the point-bringing patterns and I get higher scores and move through the levels more and more quickly with each round.
This is just because I’m becoming more practiced and more expert.
This is a gentle reminder that when I find something difficult to complete in my life, that it wasn’t meant to be easy. But with practice over time, it will get easier and I will get better.
- 4. Be strategic
With each round and with a more practiced and knowing eye to the patterns in each Candy Crush game, I am becoming more strategic about the moves I make.
When I first started playing I’d move candies around every which-way just to complete the move, and had no clear method to the way I was doing things.
When I got stuck on bloody level 30 for 5 days, I realised I needed to play smarter. I started to think about each move, and recognise the importance of each one I was making (there is always a limit to how many moves you can make in each round). I became a lot more careful about what I was doing. This has been resulting in super high scores and quickly moving through the levels.
And wow, how similar to business this is. When I first started coaching, I had no strategy, no game plan, no idea how what business model I was using. When coaching, I didn’t have a clear strategy for how to take on clients, I wasted time and money and I wasn’t being wise in the business decisions I made.
Now however, I have a clear plan and strategy and having that makes moving forward so much easier and less stressful and actually really exciting too. Plus those strategies, once learnt, can be applied over and over.
- 5. Make every move count
With a limit to the number of moves you can make per round, it is so important to make every move one that it useful. It is so extremely frustrating to get to the last move of a game and to need only two more moves to make in order to pass the level. When this happens.I always wish I’d made a wiser choice over one of my moves earlier in the game.
In my life, I’ve always said I want every day to count. I don’t want to look back and feel like I’ve wasted precious moments or played things out in a different way. I appreciate my Candy Crush reminders of just how important each day, each move, each moment actually is (and please don’t remind me I am playing a silly game called Candy Crush in my time…as this blog outlines, it is more useful than you realise!).
- 6. Keep your eye out for opportunities that arise
Sometimes in Candy Crush, I get so focussed on clearing a jelly from one section of the board that I totally miss a chance to get a striped candy or a freckled chocolate.
I hate to think how many opportunities I’ve missed out on due to being too centre-focussed on one thing and not keeping my eyes open to everything around me in my life.
- 7. Be ready for anything and trust in the outcome
There are games in Candy Crush which I’ve played that have seemed futile from the begiining. I will have made several lame moves and can’t see how it would be possible to pass the level before my moves are up.
But then, out of nowhere, the game delivers me a break, and it is suddenly all happening, and before I know it, I’m completing the level successfully.
Then I remember, this is a game, which is designed to be possible to win. Every one of those games has to be winnable, that is the nature of them, the way they have been designed.
Isn’t life much the same? We have not been put into this world to fail. All the Universe wants of us is to succeed.
When it all seems futile and like I want to just throw in the towel, I always remind myself that I have to trust I am on the right path and that the Universe will deliver me the outcome I desire. Because that is how it all works, it the Universal Law, just like the game-creators built this game to be winnable when you make the right moves.
And some games- and some days- are just going to be better than others, which is fine. Because there will always be another day- and another game- to do it all better in the next time.
- 9. It ain’t over til it’s over
Much like #8 above, I always need to remember that the game isn’t over until those Candy Crush lives are no more.
Anything is possible, things can happen out of the blue, opportunities show themselves and really, there is never a dull moment.
- 9. Reach out when you need help
This one took me a while to cotton onto. I thought I could get through Candy Crush (and my life!) all on my own.
I am a strong, capable, intelligent and independent woman. I can do anything I want and don’t need anyone else to help me get there.
But guess what? It is soooo much easier when you just reach out for help.
Asking other Candy friends for a free life is easy, and is no skin off their back to give to you. This makes the game so much more enjoyable and fun. Also taking the suggestions that the game gives for moves to make usually works out really well. There is nothing wrong with taking advice from others (who probably know better)- in life too.
And in life and biz, when I’ve hit my low points and I’ve felt like throwing in the towel with frustration, my friends have been there. To pick me up and support me and to guide me, and that has been totally ok. Because I don’t need to do any of this alone. None of us do!
I’ve also been reminded through playing Candy Crush just how competitive I can be. At first, seeing friends achieving super high scores, way better than my own, really irked me. Then I shifted focus and started to see everyone as a potential ally.
They could give me lives, and I know they probably had a lucky streak on some games, like I’ve also had in my own. Rather than comparing and competing, I now see my Candy friends as people who are slightly addicted to the same game as me, and who can help me out as I too will help them when called.
The same goes with my colleagues and counterparts, who are potential partners and friends, not competitors, because there is enough abundance of everything to go around for everyone.
- 10. Don’t forget to be present
I think a blog post about Candy Crush has to include this point. When it is time to talk to my husband at the end of the day, to be present on something I am working on and to be focussed on what I am doing, I have to put the silly game out of my mind. And be present with that person and that thing so that I can do whatever I need to do which actually really matters.
Because at the end of the day, Candy Crush is only a game, a nice momentary escape from reality that kills time throughout the day. But life is real and needs attention and focus and the people in my life deserve presence and conversation. These moments between work tasks and gadget games are all the more meaningful and more powerful with the conscious decision to put away my iPod and to be present in the real life moment I am experiencing in the game of life.
I’d love to hear from you. Do you play Candy Crush, or another similar game? How has it affected your life?