Should we treat life as a competition?

Have you ever competed with yourself?

When I was a teenager I played my best ever round of competition golf, ‘schlepping’ it around my local course in 75 shots, surprising a few of the more senior members by shooting the lowest score in the Monthly Medal competition.

I didn’t win the competition, though, because the handicapping system in golf means that a 28-handicapper who goes around in 95 shots can beat a low handicapper who shoots 75.

In such events golfers are in essence largely in competition with themselves as much as they are the rest of the field.

No matter, I was obviously very proud of my round, as is evident by the fact I am still mentioning it in my blog today nearly two decades later!

Golf can be a cruel game, however

In the 1986 US Open, Australian Greg Norman yet again led the field after the first three rounds – incredibly he did so in all four of the major tournaments that year – but in the final round he shot a 75 and yet again he was devastated to finish just off the pace.winner loser motivation money compare podium competition

It’s interesting to consider that while shooting a 75 on a pretty easy golf course made me tremendously happy, the same number of shots on an incredibly tough course is destined to haunt Greg Norman for all his years.

Greg Norman won two major tournaments and finished second on no fewer than seven occasions in the major tournaments.

It’s slightly ridiculous to think that some consider Norman to have been a failure, for he is one of the most talented (and wealthiest) sportsmen Australia has ever produced.

Yet Greg Norman set his standards so high, that to him, 2nd place was not good enough.

Paradoxically, it was this tremendous drive and self-belief that enabled him to be such a great golfer in the first place.

 Life as a competition

There can be few more liberating feelings than resolving to stop competing with your peers for the highest paid job, the best house, the flashiest car, the biggest plasma screen TV and the most extravagant holiday.

I can barely think of anything worse than lumbering myself with a colossal mortgage for a home and cars (mortgage: ‘death contract’) to pay off over the next 30 years.

It’s always down to personal choice of course, but if you must live in the most exclusive suburbs of the world’s most desirable and expensive cities, why not rent and save yourself the massive pain of a mortgage? (the same can apply to cars, of course!).

The great ‘display of wealth’ is a competition you can never win.

There will always be someone who earns more than you or others who inherit plenty more than you do.

The only person you need to be in competition with is…yourself.

Setting big goals

goal imageThis is not to say that setting huge goals cannot be a great thing.

And I really wish I had known this when I was 23 instead of 33!

Humans need inspiring and exciting goals to motivate themselves into taking decisive action.

I’ll share with you a few goals I have set for myself to reach by the age of 40: to build an internationally recognised brand through co-owning a business, to present my own TV show, to write a regular column for a national newspaper and to become a best-selling author internationally as well as in Australia.

Some outlandish goals? You bet!

But at least they are inspiring and exciting to me. The key in life, I suppose, is to set yourself huge and exciting targets but not to beat yourself up if you don’t achieve them all quickly or in totality.

As the old saying goes: “Aim for the stars and you might hit the moon.”

Investment goals – get rich slowly

It’s also good to set yourself a big goal in investment. However, there is a trap here, and the trap is trying to get rich too quickly.

The route to building wealth is both remarkably and deceptively simple, and if you follow the principles of building and compounding a portfolio of assets, you can achieve great things over time.

But you do need to allow yourself the time for investments to grow and compound so that you can turn $1 into $2.

If you have a plan which relies upon you timing the market with unerring accuracy in order to $1 into $2 overnight, you will probably fail to succeed over time.

It was Berkshire Hathaway’s Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s sidekick, who said: “Someone will always be getter richer faster than you. This is not a tragedy.”

And he’s absolutely right. Sadly my golfing talents have fallen by the wayside over the years.

I guess in life you always have to prioritise!

The key to success in investment is to build wealth slowly but surely over time and over the long term the power of compound growth can produce surprisingly outstanding results.



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Pete Wargent is a Chartered Accountant, Chartered Secretary and has a Financial Planning Diploma. He’s achieved financial freedom at the age of 33 - as detailed in his book ‘Get a Financial Grip – A Simple Plan for Financial Freedom’. Pete now manages his investment portfolio, travels and works as a consultant in the finance industry from time to time. Visit his blog

'Should we treat life as a competition?' have 1 comment

  1. Avatar for Property Update

    December 21, 2013 @ 9:54 am Susan

    Great topic and insight. Much more meaningful to set your own goals rather than trying to live up to other people’s/social expectations of having flash house and car etc.


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