I just completed my first ever escape room challenge. When we started the 60-minute sand timer, my intuition was to slowly walk through the room, scan it, and take everything in. My girlfriend knew better.
Having done several of these, she yelled, “Find all the clues!” and immediately started rummaging through all the drawers, collecting every piece of evidence she could discover. Naturally, I matched her energy, and off to the races we were.
As it turns out, this was exactly the right thing to do. You need to get all the data, then assemble it into solutions to the individual puzzles, and backtrack where necessary. My approach most likely would have been too slow.
What’s enlightening about being on the clock is that your mind has no time for distractions. It filters and thinks and adjusts at rapid speed. You run from one puzzle to the next, and by the time the buzzer sounds, you can barely grasp it’s already over.
In our case, we completed the room pretty much on the dot. “Huh? It’s over? We won?” It took me several minutes to slow down, emerge from focus mode, and process what had just happened — and when we try to accomplish something, most of the time, that’s a good thing.
You want to forget the big picture for a while. You want to stay on task, give yourself the gift of focus, and only return from your deep dive once you’re done. That’s how people land on movie posters, bestseller lists, and in sold out arenas. They keep their head down, have fun with it, and before they know it, they’re successful — at least the ones who do it right.
We can’t stay on the edge of our seat at all times, of course, but we could probably do it a lot more than we are doing, and thus eliminate clutter and spend less time daydreaming when we already know where we want to go.
Sometimes, it truly is the best of both worlds. You enjoy life as the full-immersion experience it is supposed to be, and when you “wake up,” someone will tell you: “Surprise! You’re already successful.” Who knew that doors could open so fast? Well, it turns out life is like an escape room: As long as you keep figuring out which buttons to push, nothing will stand in your way for too long.