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Game design theory (Engineering Emergence, 2012) breaks tasks down into different levels.

  • Low level atomic tasks: Tasks that cannot be broken down into smaller subtasks. Killing a monster, creating a character, finding a key, opening a lock with the key.
  • Medium level tasks: Tasks that require a lot of the lower level atomic tasks. Finishing a level, beating a boss, crafting a powerful item. These may combine into higher medium level tasks, like finishing a group of levels (a chapter).
  • High level tasks: The big picture. Saving the world, ending a plague, winning a tournament, becoming famous.

Game design emphasizes focus on the low level atomic tasks and the high level tasks.

This works for just about every 'fun' game. Either the little things are a lot of fun, or people are willing to 'grind' in order to achieve the high level objective. The high level tasks may possibly lead to "epic wins" which are why so many people stay glued to a game for thousands of hours.

In reality, we face similar situations. Atomic tasks might be writing a piece of code. Medium level tasks might be getting a promotion. High level tasks might be supporting a family and getting a BMW.

This theory is enforced by a talk I heard by a productivity consultant, who says that he gets endless energy from realizing what his goals in life are. He meditates constantly to realign himself to those goals.

I'd define a good high level goal as something which most people couldn't achieve or something that once didn't seem possible. In gaming terms, an 'epic win'.

The problem here is that I don't know a lot of frameworks to find these high level goals or tasks. Pomodoro Technique deals with the atomic tasks very well and GTD manages medium level tasks, yet both hope that a high level goal will emerge from these processes. I've tried meditating, but don't know how to do it properly.

So does anyone know of a good way to find a good high level goal for yourself. Family, kids, and money seem more like medium level tasks, and aren't quite motivating.

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So are you asking what is an high level goal for you? – spocchio Nov 19 '13 at 15:17
Basically, yeah. Or what are good high level goals in general. Or how to find a good high level goal from say, GTD tasks, since it was an unanswered question brought up in the original GTD book. – Muz Nov 20 '13 at 9:45
Also not just for me, but in other people I'm coaching, my kids, etc. So ideally a framework which can be taught to other people instead of just insight. – Muz Nov 25 '13 at 15:03

Stephen Covey's "personal mission statement" from The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People might be a good way to start thinking about what your loftier goals could be. The process he outlines doesn't sound like it would lead to the goals themselves, but point you to the values you have that will influence them.

If you don't mind a slightly New Age-y approach, you might like Steve Pavlina's How to Discover Your Life Purpose in About 20 Minutes.

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