She’s an author, video-game designer and a survivor. 24Life recently sat down with Jane McGonigal, the creator of “SuperBetter,” to learn about her daily routine, passion, favorite workout and more.
Here’s the conversation …
24Life: What tips would you offer for getting more out of your workout?
Jane McGonigal (JM): Make a prediction before you work out. Exactly how many miles to two decimal places can you walk or run on the treadmill in 20 minutes? How many push-ups can you do without stopping? Making a prediction primes your brain better than a goal to be more resilient when the workout gets tough. That’s because every time you make a prediction, your brain bumps up the dopamine level in your reward pathways, which helps you maintain harder effort longer. It doesn’t matter if your prediction is wrong or right, you get the benefit.
24Life: You only have 24 minutes to work out today. What would you do?
JM: I live on top of a very steep hill. I would run down and run back up, two miles roundtrip!
24Life: How do you stay fit on the road?
JM: I do push-ups in my hotel room and look up popular running routes. If I have time, I pick a restaurant that is at least a mile walk from my hotel.
24Life: What is your power meal?
JM: A vegetarian combo plate from any Ethiopian restaurant.
24Life: What stresses you and what’s your #1 stress buster?
JM: Trying to get everything done in a day while still spending lots of time with my family.
My number-one stress buster is chasing my two-year-old twin daughters up and down the hall screaming like monsters.
24Life: Secrets to getting stuff done?
JM: I listen to smart podcasts while I do my hair and make-up, so I learn something new every day. I recommend This American Life, the Tim Ferriss podcast and Dear Sugar.
24Life: Tips to get a good night’s sleep?
JM: Think of three things that went great today. It could be a tiny task you accomplished, a friend you heard from, or even just the fact that you had running water and electricity, a minor miracle when you think about it!
24Life: Any tips for meditation or reflection?
JM: When I meditate, I breathe in gratitude for what others are doing to make a positive difference in the world and in my own life, and I breathe out an intention to do my best to give back a whole-hearted effort to do the same.
24Life: What’s your greatest passion (outside of your work)?
JM: Trail-racing with my husband, Bollywood movies, sparkly make-up, cuddling my daughters and following professional tennis.
24Life: Where do you find inspiration?
JM: In the efforts of people all around me to be kind to others. The biggest inspiration I’ve experienced in recent years is the extraordinary compassion and tireless efforts of NICU (neo-natal infant care unit) nurses. They are my heroes.
24Life: What’s on your bedside table (reading) or top of your podcast/playlist?
JM: “Eligible” by Curtis Sittenfeld and “Girls on Fire” by Robin Wasserman. I love reading literary fiction that really gets into the psychology of strong women characters.
24Life: What is in your 24? Describe a typical day in your life?
JM: Get my girls up and play with them for an hour. Spend a couple of hours on design work or research. Have an hour-long video conference call with collaborators. Go for a five-or-six mile run. Pick up salads for lunch. Take turns with my husband hanging out with our kids and getting work done. Take a family trip to a park. Work, work, work. Thank my husband for making dinner. Tickle my girls before bedtime. Work some more and get some planks or push-ups in before bed. The last thing is always a one-hour date with my husband, where there is no work allowed.
24Life: Advice to the world in one sentence or your favorite quote?
JM: This one …
A Buddhist monk once told me: “If you’re having a bad day, say to yourself: ‘It’s a comedy, not a tragedy.'” This is my family’s mantra!
For more information on McGonigal read “The Power of Living Gamefully” in Issue 5 of 24Life.