Are you fiercely competitive? In ancient times, there wasn't much choice in the matter. If you didn't compete for food, shelter, or companionship, you would die. Fortunately, things aren't quite as intense today, but we still compete in various aspects of our lives.
We continue to live in a world in which competition is highly valued and where achievement is often tied to self-esteem or personal value. Here are a few reasons why your competitive spirit might be a good thing, when it could get you into trouble, and some ways to use your drive more productively.
The Positive Aspects of a Competitive Spirit
It's a fallacy to believe that we all live a world where everyone is going to get a participation trophy just for showing up. Success is valued in our society whether we like it or not and competition is one of the best ways to drive success.
When we have competition, it pushes us to grow and even advance as a civilization. It can be argued that man might never have stepped on the moon if we were not in a race to beat the Russians for the prize. If viewed in the correct light, we can actually learn from the setbacks that occur when we're competing with others. These are some of the most positive aspects of competition.
When Competition Might Not Be Healthy
For some people, competing with others can take a decidedly negative turn as well. When competition adds too much stress to your life, it might be time to take a step back and reassess your goals. Stress from competition can affect health and wellbeing, elevating heart rate and blood pressure to potentially dangerous levels. You might lose sleep, become angry, depressed, or even hopeless when things aren't going your way. In the extreme, these feelings can affect both your personal and work relationships, necessitating some type of change.
Learning to Compete With Yourself Instead of Others
While competition in today's world is difficult to avoid, there are a few things that you can do to shift your focus for a more healthy outlook. Instead of constantly comparing yourself to others, with each passing day, make the commitment to just do better than you did the day (or time) before. You probably already have people who are on your side and cheering on your success. These advocates are vital, but it's also important that you are one of the people in your own fan club or you will continue to stumble.
Begin by taking a look at how far you've come in the past year or even five years. What have you achieved and how has your life improved? Give yourself a pat on the back for those achievements.
Now, set some reasonable goals for yourself and begin tracking your own improvement. Start with small and measurable goals that you believe are attainable and meaningful. Build on your successes with these initial goals and continue your personal growth. The idea is to create a better reality than the one you have right now, not the one that someone else has.
Knowledge is power. The more you know, the easier it is to make an intelligent choice. Everyday life, as well as certain events and circumstances, require you to make choices. And peace of mind is gained when you feel good about the decisions you make.
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