4 minute read

I'm pretty excited to try this one out. Health Month is a behavior change game where you set rules to follow each month and do daily tracking, with rewards and penalties for how well you follow them. I'm just digging into it, but so far it looks like you can choose "do more of this" or "do less of that". I like the idea of limiting the scope of the goal to a month (what BJ Fogg calls a "span" behavior instead of a "path" behavior -- and says the key to long term change is focusing on span not path) and the immediate feedback from daily tracking.

I'm curious about the reward system, to see if it really is compelling and there also is some kind of social wrinkle where you can help and get help from other players.

From the site, here's how to play:

How to play

Are you new to Health Month? Here's the quick and dirty.

Health Month is all about making small improvements to your health, one month at a time. Players (that's you!) can choose 1 or more rules to try to stick to for a month from the many different dietary, fitness, relationship, mental health, and financial health behaviors that are currently in the game. For first time players, 1-5 rules is a nice way to start. Choose rules that you want to work on, and try to make small improvements to your current behavior rather than going cold-turkey, whole-hog, or crazy-wombat. You can always ratchet up the difficulty next month, once you get the hang of it.

What are life points?

After you commit to your rules, you start each month with 10 shiny new life points. The goal is to end the month with at least 1 life point. You lose a life point whenever you don't stick to one of your rules, but don't worry if you lose all of your life points â€" that's what friends are for! Friends and other players of Health Month have your back when you need to be healed (this is a big part of why Health Month totally rocks compared to other health plans and services). This game is NOT about making you feel guilty. It's about helping you discover what works for your current lifestyle (do more of that) and what doesn't (skip it). Also, if you accidentally over-commit yourself and and lose all of your life points (I've seen some people go to -100 life points and more! Maybe there should be an award for being ambitious?), it just means you can take it a little easier next month. Life is long. Small improvements will make a bigger impact long term. And, by the way, you can still play the game if you are -100 life points… everything still works as usual.

When do I play?

Every day, during the month that you've committed to play, you can come to the site and play your turn. Spin the Wild Wheel if you feel like adding an extra helping of whimsey to your game (don't worry, most of the outcomes are positive) or you can skip it and go straight to filling out your daily scorecard without collecting $200.

What do I do with fruit?

If you follow all of your rules for a day, you get a piece of fruit. You can use fruit to heal other players who have lost life points. It's a good thing to do, because they'll remember you when you need to be healed in the future.

Where are my friends?

Follow friends and team mates on Health Month to see a stream of how everyone else is doing with their game (think Twitter or Facebook for improving your life). You're all in it together, and posting questions, tips, fears, and challenges that you run into helps remind you that things like this work better when they're done with friends and family. Don't be afraid to invite them! :)