How does one effect a positive change in one's own life? Over the past year or so I've been making a lot of startling discoveries about myself. I've also discovered that while I'm ultimately happy about who and where I am, that I posses a few traits which are underdeveloped at best and distasteful at worst. I tend to be extremely passionate, but only for a short time span on any one subject. Akin to that, I have an extremely broad knowledge base, but it trends towards, what I would consider, a shallow grasp of the subject matter. This is something I'd like to change. So, we come back to my original question, "How does one effect positive change in one's own life?"

My ideal would be to find the one thing that I can not only be passionate about, but something that will continue to hold my interest and passion for more than two to six months. But how do I do that? Or is it possible that I've already found it and just didn't realize or notice it at the time because I was distracted by another passion and never really followed through? I think that my plans for the future will allow me to focus on a particular subject for my passion, but how do I know this isn't just another one of my fads?

When you boil it all down, I think it basically comes down to one thing. I'm afraid. And when I realized that, I looked back and noticed a pattern. Most of my major decisions in life have been decided by my fear. And in almost all the cases I took the "safe" path, or the path of least resistance and have, while not being especially regretful of those decisions, also have made nothing to be proud of either. The few times I've made decisions based on something other than fear are the decisions that have made me either proud or regretful.

Everybody has always been telling me that I have such great potential. How I hated that phrase when I was growing up. Great, I've got potential, but potential for what exactly? The stock answer there was always "Whatever you want" followed by a gushing smile and a wish that they could have the same opportunities. The fallacy here is that potential is neutral. So yes, I have the potential to become an amazing doctor, or the one who discovers a unified field theory, but I also have the potential to become the a notorious serial killer, or an excellent corporate lawyer. So how do I figure out what it is that I really want to do when I excell at everything I attempt?

Sure, potential is a good thing to have, but I've never really used much of it, instead dealing it out in dribs and drabs and acheiving a sort of quiet medicrity with my life. While I've made progress, it has been slow, and to be honest, disappointing. I suppose it's sort of like the stock market, and so far my life has been an ultra conservative portfolio, minimal risk, but if I keep it up, then there's no way I'll be able to live off of it after I retire.

So how do I effect that change? Which direction should I pick? How do I know that it's the right one? Why is it that none of the important questions are ever easy?


Advanced rules.

Okay, after some experimentation and thought, the rules that I came up with earlier don't accurately reflect the real world circumstances which I find myself in. So I'm revising the rules to make them both harder and more lenient at the same time, i.e. more like real life. So without further ado:

Stop Smoking Advanced Ruleset

1. Beginning characters start at level 1.

2. Once every hour the character is allowed to make a will check in order to resist poison.

3. No carryover is allowed, if a roll is missed, then next hour only one roll is allowed.

4. Every successfully resisted poisoning gives 1 experience point.

5. Levelling up takes n*10 EXP where n is the current level.

6. As character level increases bonuses are granted to the saving throw. (See appendix)

7. Certain events that affect willpower will grant modifiers to the roll. (See appendix)

8. A roll of 20 always saves, and a roll of 1 always fails, NO MATTER WHAT.

Appendix A

1. The critical events mentioned in the chart above are for those instances where you habitually have ALWAYS had a cigarette before. For example, I always smoke right after I wake up, and when I arrive at and leave work. So at those times, I would apply the critical modifier to my roll.

2. The time modifier referenced above is an acknowledgement that this is a physical addiction, and every success makes the next one more difficult. For every time check period which has passed since your last smoke minus one, you apply this modifier. Sleeping resets the counter. So if you're a level 2 checking every hour and it's been 3 hours since you last smoked(skipped rolls or successful ones), then your next roll will be at a -4.

3. Fatigue also has a degrading effect on will, so for every hour you've been awake beyond 14 you get an additional time modifier.

4. Given that this is a will check and that stress negatively impacts willpower, stresses, good or bad, will give you a modifier.

A) Severe stresses are extremely rare and will inflict a -5 modifier to your roll. These would be so extreme in nature that you might have trouble lighting up due to the shakes, i.e. : car accident, informed of the death of a loved one, death by firing squad, etc...

B) Moderate stresses are uncommon and induce a -3 modifier. These stresses are strong enough to provoke an emotional response, but not the adrenaline rush of the severe stressors, i.e. : getting chewed out by the boss, arguement with significant other, sexual activity, etc...

C) Minor stresses are common and give a -1 modifier. This is the sort of thing that can happen every day, i.e. : busy day at work, finishing a game(win or lose), drinking with friends, stubbing a toe, having to answer the question "does this make me look fat?", etc...

5. Divine interventions. Once per day you can cheat and smoke a cigarette. I'm leaving this one in there to reflect that there are times when you just NEED a smoke. Also for levels 1-5 you can take it after a roll, but for levels 6-10 you have to take it BEFORE.

So there you have it. My expanded ruleset for DMing your own anti-smoking campaign. Some might note that I allow for rolls after becoming an ex-smoker, but I left that in there to recognize the fact that extenuating circumstances might arise where no matter how long it's been you just want to have another cigarette. After 3 days I have 4 experience points (I roll a lot of natural 20's) and am well on my way to becoming an ex-smoker.


The Campaign.

I'm a smoker... Not something that I'm especially proud of, but it's a part of my life. For a New Year's resolution (not that I really believe in them, but that's another story) I'm going to, if not quit, then at least seriously cut back on my smoking. In an idea that I'm borrowing from MC Frontalot I'm going to DM (Dungeon Master for the uninitiated) my own smoking abatement campagin. Here's the rules:

Carry around a D20 (twenty sided die) at all times.
Every time I want a cigarette, I'm going to make a will check to resist poison, notably, to resist poisoning myself.
Roll maximum of once per hour, no carry over. i.e. if I skip an hour then I can't roll twice next hour.
For the first week, only on a natural 20 will I save and successfully resist poisoning myself.
For every subsequent week I get a +1 bonus to my roll, so on the second week I resist on a 19 or 20, third week an 18 19 or 20, etc...
For every +5 I get one divine intervention, so when I'm down to 15 then I can cheat once per day, 10 twice, 5 three times.
By week 20 only on a critical fail (a 1) will I poison myself.

If I actually make it that far, then afterwards I'll see about changing the rules some to further cut down, possibly eliminating cheats, or elongating the interval between checks. For those of you that have spent time around me, you'll know that I usually abide by random chance. Be it the roll of a die, or a coin flip, or some other way of determining chance, then I always follow what comes. This should definitely be interesting, wish me luck.