‘Level Up Your Life’ by Steve Kamb is a motivational book, a tool to achieve your goals, a kick up the ass. Shop shelves are littered with self help books and while many use the same techniques ‘Level Up Your Life’ stands aside. Why? Gamification.
Make your life a video game, be the lead character and turn your dreams into quests. The real and fantasy world entwine as Steve falls back on his love of computer games and movies for reference; a feature I endorse in this ‘Level Up Your Life’ book review.
Self improvement – level up your character, beat the next boss man – overcome an obstacle, unlock a skill set – learn a new language. ‘Level Up Your Life’ offers a fresh take on the grind of goal achievement.
Steve can hard wire your adventurous side with an infectious personality and can do attitude, I myself experienced a host of ‘why can’t I?’ moments. Ignite the DO whether you want to run, play the piano, book that trip around the World or even write a novel. Here are some of my favourite bits.
Leaving The Shire
Humans crave comfort yet the damage it inflicts can be shocking. We get too comfortable in our surroundings; social media, TV, every day conveniences and ultimately mediocrity. Chapter one draws back the curtain with a spotlight fixed on bad habits. A well placed quote from Banjamin Franklin captures the point with just eight words, and two numbers.
Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75.
Goal achievement is broken down into three phases; research, take action, live it. Most get stuck in phase one – research and the gathering of information. Its fun to contemplate what could happen and ‘the path’, but this isn’t executing your goal its pondering. Phase two is taking action, diving in, trying, failing and then trying again. Phase three is living out what you hope to accomplish in all its glory.
Steve points to the fact most confuse phase 2 and 3, which leaves them grounded in phase one. Your first attempt may fail but if you don’t dive in head first you will never find out. We are by nature afraid of falling, failing and been different a point Steve touches on below.
In the book, ‘The Top Five Regrets of the Dying’, the #1 regret voiced by those on their deathbeds, having the crystal-clear ability to look back at what they had done or not done over the course of their lives, is that they wished they’d had the courage to live lives true to themselves, as opposed to the lives others expected of them.
In a nutshell, chapter one does a great job of motivating and inspiring you to leave comfort behind and stride out on the path less trod.
Excuses, Positive People & Achievement
Any excuse which stands between you and your goals isn’t a good excuse at all. Through Steves eyes ‘I’d love to exercise, but I just don’t have time.’ becomes ‘exercising isn’t a priority’.
From lacking time, money, youth and even opportunities Steve offers solutions and a way through. The book then goes on to positive influences and explains how your ‘network’ – the people around you – play a huge role. ‘You become the average of the five people you associate most with’ so surround yourself with inspiration.
This section is capped off with a poignant and revealing study from the University of California looking at two groups of people.
Those who had just won the lottery and those who had recently become paraplegics. Initially and unsurprisingly, the lottery winners experienced extremely high happiness and the paraplegic group was simply devastated. But one year later both groups were more or less equally happy.
More than that, the paraplegics reported being happier in accomplishing everyday tasks than the lottery winners were. Thus, the happiness we achieve by chasing bigger, better, newer or shinier rewards quickly fades. Our new ‘happy’ quickly becomes our new ‘normal’, causing us to chase even bigger and better rewards to fill our happiness void!
In other words tying ourselves to money, or possessions does not bring happiness, fulfilling the need to achieve does.
Setting Goals & Life At Level 50
‘Level Up Your Life’ approaches goal setting from a unique angle and this sets it apart. Steve calls goals quests and the reader a super hero.; you are the main character in an epic journey to achieve the impossible and accrue points as each checkpoint is passed.
Steve urges you to assign a points system for each quest as your character levels up with every achievement. Early in the book you are asked to write out ‘life at level 50’. This is your perfect existence, your dream life, your ‘if pigs could fly’ painting. I believe this part of the book is pivotal; after writing out your dreams it is easier to work back and formulate goals with real progression and meaning.
Perseverance, Habits & Your Batcave
In this section we read about obstacles and problems laid by life to derail us. Steve treats these as challenges to overcome and prove ourselves worthy of achieving ours goals. One quote from Jim Rohn in particular resonated with me personally.
Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.’
Long after you read the book, that burning enthusiasm to achieve will wain, when this happens it can be easy to lose focus and site of what you’re truly after. By forming good habits and making consistent small changes we can keep that momentum going.
Want to go from couch potato to exercise five days a week? Start with 5-10 minutes every morning, this is both a small adjustment and very doable. More importantly start the routine tomorrow its not like you will miss those few minutes each day. Heres an exert on removing steps between you and good habits.
I want you to start adjusting your batcave and set yourself up for success, too. Identify the places you spend the most time, and make small changes to those environments to minimize the amount of willpower required to stay on target.
This very quote inspired me to clean out ‘the games rooms’, buy a desk, and only work on Trailing The Pack in this environment. I now spend a lot of time upstairs and away from the TV but thats a positive, right?
I could go on but you should enjoy the book as I did, first hand. Steve created Nerd Fitness, transformed his physique, travelled the world, lived like James Bond in Monte Carlo, and flew a stunt plane over New Zealand. Fair to say he is qualified in the art of achieving big dreams.
‘Level Up My Life’ is an inspiring self help book thanks to Steve’s infectious enthusiasm and ‘why not’ attitude. If you want that “f#@k it, lets do this” moment I’d strongly recommend picking up a copy. And to finish, heres another quote from the book on 20 seconds of courage. You may recognise this from ‘We Bought A Zoo’, the popular movie starring Matt Damon.
Sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.