When I was a kid I competed a lot. First on the playground and in the yard playing games with my friends and sisters. Then in school, I played football and a little basketball. (The amount was little, not the size of the ball.) I competed in 10 different track and field events in high school. And in college, I competed in 4 track & field events at the University of Wisconsin,
Those years of athletic competitions were not only great fun, they were motivating. When you are competing you are testing yourself. You are pushing yourself to improve. You are either getting better or getting worse. And when there is always a win or a loss in the balance your actions and your days have meaning. (Even without Webster.)
A common theme among athletes is that they feel lost and struggle with their identity after their athletic careers end. Because their field of competition was central to their self-identity. Their life was set to the seasons of competition and preparation. And the competition gave them purpose and direction.
But I never felt lost without athletic competition. Even before I had Waze and Google Maps on my phone.
Today, I am a long way past my college athletics. But I still experience that competitive drive every day. In fact, my life is filled with more motivating competition than ever before.
11 Ways I am competing and keeping score today:
The first thing I do when I get out of bed each morning is weigh myself. I track my weight every day. Knowing that I am competing with the scale each morning drives my exercise and eating behaviors every day. This morning I weighed exactly what I weighed when I graduated from college.
I compete in reading. I always try to read more this year than last. I am currently on pace to read 40 books this year, my best year ever. My reading also feels like I am winning my competition to get smarter. So every time I sit down to read a few pages (I never read standing up) I feel like I am winning.
I compete with my net worth. I track it, grow it, and set goals for it. I enjoy this personal competition and the positive returns it provides.
I compete in book sales. I track the sales of my book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? And I think about actions that help move more books. I get a score every month from my publisher. This is a fun competition with myself, and Dr. Suess.
I also compete as a speaker. Writing a book has created a lot of speaking opportunities. I try to speak to as many people each year as I can. I talk at schools, to companies, teams, conferences, trade shows, Rotary Clubs and Chambers of Commerce. (Which my son Magnus says sounds like a Harry Potter thing: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Commerce…)
I compete in the gym, lifting weights, trying to get stronger than yesterday. (Like the Beetles said.)
I compete in business at The Weaponry. Not only do I work to grow our business, but our team competes to help our clients grow and win in their industries too.
I compete as the coach of my son Magnus’ 7th grade football team. As the defensive coordinator, I compete each week to help our team stop our opponents. I spend a surprising amount of time in my late evenings watching game film of 7th graders playing football in order to win this competition.
I compete as the girl’s track team throwing coach at Homestead High School in Mequon, Wisconsin. My daughter Ava is on the team. I compete to help my girls set personal records, win meets, win championships, and rise on the school, state, and national rankings.
I compete for quality time spent with my family. Meal time, conversations in cars and kitchens, time coaching, helping with homework, watching movies, and taking walks. They all add up. And they are all valuable.
I compete to get this blog written and published 3 times per week. It is not easy to keep a blog going. You have to make it a competition. This is my 916 blog post.
All of this competition gives me a competitive fire every morning when I get out of bed. The same kind of fire I had as an athlete. I look forward to each day, energized, like a drumming bunny toy. I take on each day with a scorecard for success that covers many areas of my life. And each night when I lay down to sleep I know whether or not I won the day.
If you want more meaning, more energy and more fire in your life, find areas to compete. Physical, business, reading, relationshipping, volunteering, coaching, playing, or weight loss. Anything that you want to do well and keep improving. Set benchmarks and keep raising them and pushing yourself. It’s an exciting way to feel like you are winning at life.
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