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Life's a Game of Pac-Man: Finding Freedom in the Journey

"Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome." John C. Maxwell


I remember the days huddled around a game console that looked straight out of the '80s, probably because it was the ‘80s… Awaiting my turn to dive into the world of Pac-Man. There was something magical about the simplicity of it all—eat the dots, dodge the ghosts, and enjoy the satisfaction of turning the tables with a power dot. That rush when the ghost stops chasing you and starts running away? Pure euphoria!


I had a wild idea I had this week: what if life itself is a colossal game of Pac-Man? Stick with me, even if you're raising an eyebrow and rolling your eyes. I have some insights on finding freedom and chasing dreams that apply even if you think life is more than this retro arcade game.

If you’ve never played Pac-Man before; no one expects to conquer the level on the first try. Same thing with life; achieving your dreams takes time and a fair share of do overs. Ghosts (aka challenges or obstacles) will corner you, setbacks are inevitable, and unless you're a seasoned pro, facing a ghost head-on feels inevitable. Is it sometimes uncomfortable? Sure. But isn't that the truth of life sometimes?

Our time as humans is a limited resource, just like the quarters needed to play Pac-Man back then. The longer I was able to lose myself in the game, the more enjoyable it became. We're told to stay present, acknowledging the power of now. Yet, it's all too easy to fixate on the end goal, whether it's financial freedom, quitting your job, or that dream vacation. I’m looking at you Iceland.

Constantly focusing on what you lack definitely steals your joy. Your satisfaction becomes tied to something you don't possess yet, always yearning for more. It's like saying, "Okay, I quit my job—now what?" “I met my financial goals, let me double them now.” The key is learning to appreciate the journey. You might not have it all, but I bet you that you can have some version of what you want RIGHT NOW. Celebrate each step, and you've cracked the code to living life.

Just as Pac-Man's journey isn't always sunshine and rainbows, not every level or segment of life will be a walk in the park. But here's the game-changer: perception is your ticket to freedom and happiness. Instead of dwelling on mundane tasks or setbacks, gamify them. Turn back-to-back conference calls into a strategic chess match. Seek out those power pellets that allow you to face your fears head-on and conquer them before your quarter runs out. Get comfortable with being a little uncomfortable.

Now, you might think this is overly simplistic or impossible. I've already talked about the power of your inner dialogue. We all feel our situations are unique, convincing ourselves that our challenges are insurmountable. But in the end, we're all human, facing the same struggles. It just doesn't always feel like we are connected because we only see what's going on with others from the outside.


Having spent two decades drowning in conference calls about future conference calls, supporting software that had no developers dedicated to support, grappling with utilization reports, and navigating staff reductions, I get it. It felt heavy, overwhelming even, until I realized the weight was self-imposed. The lesson? Appreciate it all, even the rough patches. Rather than fixating on the final destination, relish the progress.

Everyone desires more, thinking it will bring happiness, thinking the problems will go away once (insert final goal). More time, more money, more everything. While these make life easier, be cautious not to overlook the present. Your current resources usually can fund a small piece of your dream now. So instead of fixating solely on the end goal, redirect your focus from quitting your job to savoring every off-day. The problems don’t go away, how you view them can change right now.

The choice is yours. The stories you tell yourself: no time, stressful job, others come first—are either barriers or excuses. It boils down to perspective. Transforming life into a game of Pac-Man might just be the fastest route to freedom. Because your mind is your most potent superpower. Shift your perspective, zoom out a bit, discard the limiting beliefs, and realize it's all part of the game. If a ghost catches you, remember, there's always another chance to start over and gobble up a power dot to take care of the ghost next time. Appreciate what you have now, stop telling yourself it isn't enough, and start embracing the present. After all, we're only guaranteed right now.

What if life is just a big game of Pac-Man? I’d argue that it is, and it’s time you start enjoying the game!

I'm here for you, ready to support and encourage every step of the way. Head over to my Instagram at @playbooktofreedom for ongoing motivation and checkout a community where we navigate stock market trading together.


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