Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Balancing the Game of Life

 We use gaming terms effortlessly in our everyday language. "She's on a roll!" "I'm a loser." "He needs a win." And, of course, every parent's favorite: "It's not fair!"

I get it. Sports are popular. Games are popular. Many people thrive from their competitive nature. It's a natural analogy or metaphor that most people understand. 

Unfortunately, it can also create an "us" against "them" atmosphere. It makes it instinctive to think that someone else's win means that you've lost something, when that's not always true. 

Yes, it can mean that you didn't get a promotion that went to a colleague instead, or someone outbid you on a house. But even then, it doesn't mean that you'll never get a promotion or a house. 

When we think of something as a zero sum game, it can create resentment that's not only possibly unfair, it hurts us more than it hurts them. 

Quite simply, it's just not a good use of our time. 

Now, I'm still about balance here. There is such a thing as healthy competition, and sometimes we can strive for more by seeing where we are compared to others. 

But when it starts making you feel bad, it's no longer useful. 

Get back to your personal goal. In the housing example, maybe it's not the right time or market for you. Could you look for something smaller or further away? Maybe wait another year and save more or pay down more debt. If you didn't get a promotion, ask for feedback on what skills you need to gain. 

Let's also remember that games are supposed to be fun! If striving for your goal no longer motivates you, is it time to re-examine that goal? 

I don't necessarily mean to give up entirely, but maybe it needs a tweak here and there. If home ownership isn't viable right now, could you move to a better apartment with more amenities? If it looks like you're at a dead end in your career, could you make a lateral move with more opportunities down the line? 

Thinking about those areas that are in your own locus of control will be way more productive than focusing your attention and energy on those that "beat" you. 

In the name of balance, go ahead and take a happy hour to vent with your friends. Everyone is allowed some time to process. 

The next day, give yourself some time to brainstorm other avenues to score your own goal! 

Yeah, couldn't help it. 

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