How To Foster Healthy Competition Into Your Life

Rowing BoatAbout five years ago I started golfing regularly at a specific course.

I like playing early in the mornings on the weekends. For a little while I would go out alone and more often than not I would run into this large group. Eventually I just joined up and now there is a group of us, about 4-8 players, that play with and against each other.

Besides being fun to play with these guys I’ve noticed that my game has improved as a result of the competition we play almost every time we golf on those weekend mornings. It’s nothing too crazy. The most you’re going to lose is about five dollars and usually it’s like one dollar.

I’ve also noticed that professional golfers like to play little money games with each other. It seems the competition helps them prepare for the pressure of tournament play. Even Tiger Woods like to play these little competitive games. There was a story about him playing against a pretty good teen player several years ago. They wouldn’t play for money and Tiger would give the kid a few shots a side and the winner would have to watch the loser do pushups.

And it’s not just golf. There are all kinds of benefits to competition. But our brains aren’t always wired to seek it out. We like comfort. We don’t like the fear of being embarrassed or of losing. So we often shy away from competition.

But if you recognize the benefits, you can improve in many areas by seeking out competition.

Here are just a few ways you can foster more competition into your life so that you can see real improvement.

Personal Goals

Goals are a way to compete against yourself. And this is a real important one. It’s good to have healthy competition against others, but it’s also important to compete against yourself. Not just who you were yesterday, but also who you are today. A simple outlook is to focus on continuous improvement. Obviously there are days and stretches where you go backwards, but you can always look to improve.

A personal goal could be something at work such as a certain sales number you’re looking to hit. It could be a weight loss goal or maybe you even want to improve your time when it comes to cleaning the house. There are all kinds of things, big and small, you can do to push yourself past your perceived limits.

Be careful with goals for yourself. You want each goal to be big enough to push you while also not being so big that you likely can’t reach it. That can lead to a feeling of failure. It can be tricky. One key if you have large goals is to break it down into smaller goals.

Also, make sure to reflect on your goals. Maybe every few months or a year. Just to acknowledge the progress you’re making. This helps boost your motivation for future improvement.

Against Co-workers

This can work if you’re entry-level or if you’re the boss or owner. You can have little competitions to keep you and your team pushing forward. Sales competitions are obviously popular. If you watch reality TV you know that they often have little competitions against each other. These are for entertainment purposes, but they also boost productivity.

I was just watching a renovation show today and they did all kinds of competition during the job. They would compete to see who could nail the fastest. They would see who could take down drywall the fastest.

One key to this kind of competition is having a set of rules or standards. Nothing too crazy, but you want to make sure you’re not cutting corners at work in order to achieve certain goals.

Every sport and competition has rules. So should your own competitions.

Against Business Competitors

Obviously in business you’re competing against other businesses. You can break this down all kinds of ways. It might be difficult to know sales numbers, but you can really seek out and fight for certain customers. Maybe you know you’re pitching a client on your service against another competitor. That’s a common way to compete.

You can compete for media mentions or a ranking on Google or number of Facebook followers. There are all kinds of things you can put up as competition. You could even reach out to the competitor to have a more formal competition. You can push each other to improve. That’s how things work on the golf tours. The golfers are all competing for the same money and they push each other in those side games to improve.

At Home

There are lots of things you can do at home to push yourself. Cleaning the house. Doing some kind of yard work. Building something for your home. Cooking a new kind of meal.

You can compete against your spouse. You can compete against the kids. You can have the kids compete against each other. You could even challenge each other for healthy things like diet and exercise.

We’ll touch on this in a bit, but obviously you want it to be healthy. You don’t want to hate each other for the long-term by pushing each other too far. But competition is generally a good thing. Look at it as the fact that you’re pushing each other to improve. Most of us need a little push in order to reach our potential.


Golf is my hobby. I seek out competition in those weekend games, during regular league and also during casual rounds with friends. I do it for selfish reasons because I want to improve. But it also helps those I’m competing against for the same reasons and it adds a little excitement and fun to things.

We also have a tendency to not finish things or to cut corners in life. For example, if your neighbor’s lawn isn’t very nice then your lawn probably won’t be nice. You don’t have the push to beat them. But if their lawn is great you’re likely going to feel the drive to have a nice lawn as well.

A Note On Healthy Competition

The key to competition is to keeping it healthy. Remember that the goal is to improve. And if things don’t work out don’t be quick to blame the other person or persons or to blame the situation. Look at yourself for fault and if you do fail, use it as motivation to improve for the next time.

Competition is a great thing as long as you keep things in proper perspective.

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