Competition can be a powerful motivator. It's everywhere. The ambitious drive of competition can be found in a goal that you set for yourself, team and individual sports, board games, the workplace, amongst siblings, education, and many other areas of life. Although it can become a negative in some cases, I often find it to be a positive portion of my life. When I set a goal, I find that the competitive part of me is compelled to complete it.
Of course, competition can take a turn for the worst. How many little league or high school sports have we seen get out of hand, mostly due to aggressive and overly ambitious parents? What about professional athletes and ability enhancing drugs? Look at some of the super star celebrities that took their goals too far. Even a weight loss goal can lead to eating or exercising disorders. There has to be a balance to the competition in our lives. It's not worth hurting anyone over, including yourself. Remember to play by the rules.
Often times, a wild card can be thrown into our game, or prize seeking intent. My most recent wild card consisted of 2 sick children. When I set my sights on a goal recently, I was knocked off balance by their illness. Rather than working towards a shiny reward star sticker that I could place on my shirt, I was taking temperatures, giving meds, and trying to contain germs that were attempting to take over our home. It was a setback, but not something that cannot be overcome. We have to fall back and punt sometimes, but that doesn't mean we won't reach our goal in the end.
My sons have the competitive streak in their blood as well. When we want something done, we find that it's easier to obtain our desired outcome if we give them a little incentive. Let me give you a few examples.
*When cleaning their room, they move a lot faster if we turn on some music and give them till the end of the last song to have their room clean.
*Using a calendar print out for each of our sons, we challenge them to be on their best behavior. A great day equals a sticker on the calendar, if they have too many issues during that day, they go without. At the end of the month, each sticker is worth a quarter. The quarters are then placed in three jars, for each boy, labeled Spend, Save, and Give. At least 1 quarter must go in each, but they choose where the rest of their money goes.
*Our PTO runs a Reading Incentives program in the local elementary schools. Last year, my oldest son brought home his record sheets and was driven to read until he achieved all of the prizes that were awarded through the program. The final prize was a t-shirt that pronounced his love of reading. My eager reader was happy when he was able to wear that shirt proudly, and Mommy was proud too! As parents, we continued to reward our son for his reading time throughout the rest of the school year and into the Summer. Our local library's Summer reading program once again brought out the need to read and succeed (in both our boys).
*Currently, a good school year equals a big reward in our home. Last year, my son was in need of a bigger bike. After a great year in the classroom, he was surprised with a new bike just his size. Recently, my husband and I offered a highly desired prize to our oldest son. If he has another fabulous year at school, he will receive a Nintendo DS system (with parental time limits of course). As he has been in need (anyone who is a parent knows how children need things that we don't always agree with) of this item for a long time, I'm sure my son will strive to do his very best.
As you can see, competition can be a useful tool, if you don't let it get the best of you.
NaNoWriMo has commenced for the month of November. It uses our passion for achieving an objective, to encourage our writing habits. National Novel Writing Month is a tool that sets our eyes on the goal of 50,000 written words (a 75 page novel) within the month. For writers who have the desire to compete with themselves, this is a challenge worth taking on, and a practice session for potential future deadlines.
Competition: motivator or destructive? Do you have a competitive streak? What are your current goals? What wild cards have you encountered along the way?