When embarking on the heroes journey, you may find that navigating your user interface for your skills and attributes is rather clunky and not very intuitive. When possible, using a tutorial with the help of a guide can greatly improve your chances of success. At the very least learning how to read and understand your skill and attribute tree can set you in the right direction. So what are skills and attributes, and why do they even matter?

What are Attributes?

Attributes are your basic physical traits. Strength, speed, endurance, agility. Generally speaking when you are working out, you are attempting to improve one, some, or all of these attributes. They are the limits of what you can pick up or carry, how quickly you can get what you're carrying from point A to point B, how far a distance you can carry the object between point A and point B, and how many movements or changes in direction you can make while moving from point A to point B.

Most of the time if you find yourself using your attributes, the quest in question requires a mix of some to all of them. It is very rare that your quest simply requires you to pick something up and replace the object in the same spot you found it. However! When working to level up your attributes, you are best served by focusing on one attribute at a time. Whether it be through a full cycle of training that you spend on one specific attribute, or splitting up your workouts through out the week to focus on separate attributes.

The reason you want to focus on one attribute at a time is because they are applied generically to a variety of events, and trying to predetermine which events you're going to encounter is highly improbable. By linearly focusing on one attribute at a time, you can clearly see your progress as you level up, and have a better estimate of whether or not your current level can successfully interact with a situation. 

What are Skills

Skills are abilities that utilize your attributes. They are movement patterns, ranges of motion, or tool use. We use the word tool loosely. It doesn't have to be a crescent wrench or help you build something. It can be a toy, game, a weapon, or any other object that requires your interaction to be used. Your skills are the creative outlets for using your attributes. Much like with your attributes, you're best served by focusing on one skill at a time.

Not so much for keeping track of the linear progression, but more because of the time consumption required for success. There is a direct correlation between the amount of time spent practicing a skill, and the point at which it becomes an unconscious response. Leveling up a skill starts at the first point of it becoming unconscious. If you have to think about executing a skill before doing so, you have already been slayed.

By focusing on one skill at a time you can minimise the amount of time required to reach an unconscious response. You can further improve the time it takes to reach an unconscious response by practicing it everyday. While a given skill may get rusty if unused for too long, having it logged into your subconscious makes it much easier to pick up again when you need it. This allows you to focus on leveling up a new skill while merely maintaining your already developed ones. Maintaining your leveled skills simply requires applying their unconscious responses in your quests. In other words, keep going on quests.

Where do they fit into your heroes journey?

While your skills are purely technical, and until used, mostly theoretical, it is your attributes that dictate how long and with how much force you can execute them. You can't really succeed in any quest unless you build and maintain both of them. A skill without honed attributes will be weak, inefficient, lower your chances of survival, and eliminate any chances of escaping. Highly leveled attributes may allow you to survive longer, but leave you unable to complete any tasks.

The balance of trying to level up a skill and your attributes can seem daunting, but it doesn't have to be. The simplest structure is to focus on one skill and one attribute at a time and separately from each other. Your skill would be practiced every day, while fresh, and separate from or at least before your attribute workout. Your attribute workout would then focus on improving EITHER strength, speed, endurance, or agility. This allows you time to recover physically from each workout AND accurately track your attributes progress. If you don't have enough time or energy to switch attributes every day, you can instead focus on one attribute each time you work out and switch them out every month or so.

The relationship between your attributes and skills is built and maintained for the long haul. There is no point where you wake up and no longer have to work to at least keep your attributes at their current level. This is the biggest fallacy of working out. The idea that you've reached your goal, so you can stop. Or that you're done working out because you are already in shape. The most painful example is believing that you will pause your real life until you level up your skills and attributes to an acceptable level before returning to your previous ways.

The most crucial aspect of the heroes journey is adapting the lessons you learn to create a new you, understanding, and way of life. Peter Quill (Star Lord, and leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy) was once nothing more than a lazy dimwitted local government employee, that sucked at shining shoes.  He altered his beer intake, found his way to the gym after failing the police fitness test, and built in the day to day discipline required to improve his attributes to the level of a kick ass space pirate. He did so all AFTER turning 34. Peter didn't become a kick ass space pirate and then return to over consuming beer and getting high on shoe polish. He continued to maintain the required skills and attributes his new life required of him. Unfortunately for the fate of half the universe, he never really grew out of his over emotional dim wittedness.