Man I love playing sports and competing! There is something exhilarating about competition and pushing your body to new limits. The feeling of winning and losing are both extremely real and tangible emotions. Even though losing is never fun, the lessons you learn from a loss and the motivation it brings can help make you better than you ever were.
Sports and competitions are exciting because they allow us to gauge ourselves against others. In most sports there is a game clock or timer that showing how much time we have left, a scoreboard that clearly tells us how we are doing compared to the competition and a final buzzer or finish line that alerts us to the end of the competition. Sports also have a time for preparation, allowing us to focus on preparing our minds and bodies for the competition.
While all of this is great the problem is that we often fail to differentiate between sports/competitions and life. We have become a society that has taken the mentality of sports and applied it to our everyday life, creating an environment where we have no choice but to fail.
The very things that make sports great are the same things that make living life as a competition so dangerous!
While the sports and competitions we compete in have a way of keeping score, life does not. However, society will tell you that it does. We have been brainwashed to believe that the scoreboard of life has something to do with the car you drive, the house you live in and the brand of clothing you wear. While there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG with driving a nice car or living in a great house (I encourage you have these!) there is something wrong with it if you are using these things as a way to keep score. While most people would not admit to it, I am convinced that the vast majority are doing just this. And if I am honest, I have to regularly fight the temptation of this mindset. The reason this is so dangerous is because someone will always have a nicer house, a nicer car and a newer style then you! ALWAYS! When we allow ourselves to keep a scoreboard on life, we are sure to lose every time.
I remember wrestling in high school. It is amazing how long a 2 minute period can feel like when you are giving it your all! There were many times that I would glance up at the clock to see how much time I had left in the period. This would allow me to know when and how to make my next move. When we live life in a competition we have no timer or clock. We are playing a sport that never ends, finding ourselves in a continuous state of exhaustion. When we compete in life we are running a race with a finish line that is continually moving.
In sports it is very obvious who you are competing against. They are usually lined up across from you or running right next to you. When competing in life we don’t know who our contenders are. In fact, this may be the most dangerous part of having this mentality. By default we simply find anyone that is doing “better” than us in a given area and we compare ourselves to that standard. We see it everyday! The perfectly fit person that is extremely beautiful yet has low self esteem because they cant measure up to the person in the fitness magazine (which, by the way, are filled with photos of models who have prepared for months for these pictures while having the luxury of editing software to perfect any detail deemed imperfect). Or we see the business man that is running a successful business and making great income, but cannot be satisfied because someone else is making more.
In sports we have times of preparation and times of competition. This is necessary, because no one can compete all year long. There are needed times of rest and times to become better at your skill. When we look at life as a competition we think everyday is game day. When you must be on your game every day you will burn out and life will become miserable.
I constantly fight to remind myself that life is not a competition. I am wired at the core to compete. I hate to lose at anything, and this is why my outlook on life is so important. If I do not continually remind myself that life is not a competition between others then I will never live the life I want. When we compete in life we are actually living someone else’s life. When life is about how much money you have, the car you drive, or the house you have compared to others, you will continually live to the standards and desires of others.
I do this by asking myself if I am willing to trade a portion of my life to complete this goal. This allows me to compete with myself while focusing on what I want for life rather than what others are doing. I call this Lifestyle Design.
When we focus on what God has designed us for (our natural strengths) life is not only more fun, but we will experience more success. This is the opposite of viewing life as a competition, because when we compete in life we often compare our weaknesses to the strengths of others, creating a guaranteed loss every time.
I find that in order to stay grounded and to truly know what is important in my life I must stay focused on God. Society will pull us in many different directions and I find that the pull is stronger when I am not grounded in the word of God. Trust me, there is more to life than driving the coolest car, having the biggest house and having the most money!
What strategies do you have to avoid living life as a competition and ensure you are heading for a personal win? Leave a comment by clicking here.