Freddy vs. Jason, Dracula vs. Wooden Stakes, Utes vs. Cougars, and Bears vs. Cheese Curds. Competition is the fuel that propels us forward in life. For most of us, it starts at a young age. Wrestling your siblings, pushing for a higher grade on a test than your friend, or finally being able to take your old man in a game of one-on-one. There is something about life that makes sure there’s always that itch to one-up your ’rival.’ It’s a feeling that ignites a different side to us. It can turn laziness into motivation and complacency into focus. There are so many areas in life we can tap into that competitive spirit, even if that means being competitive with yourself.

As we have all aged and become more accustom to our creaky bones and the wheezing after we ascend a flight of stairs, the realization that the days of our youth are behind us may come more abrupt to some. Don’t fret, though, even though we won’t get back our glory days of playing point guard in Jr. Jazz or Linebacker at Hunter high school, we shouldn’t lose our competitive edge. We all have hobbies, we all work, and we all enjoy friends and family. Within these, we can find ways to challenge ourselves, set goals, and become a more skilled or knowledgeable individual.

Hobbies

Hobbies are pretty much limitless, and if you don’t feel like you have any, the chances are that you do. Whether its video games or cross-stitching, hobbies are an excellent way for stress relief and building skills. When you enjoy doing something, make sure you take the time to learn how to do it well. Hobbies let you compete against your most worthy rival, yourself. Competing against yourself is great because you’re always available! This type of competition means you aren’t staying idle, that you will learn from your mistakes, and grow your character. Some of us enjoy learning alone, but if there ever seems to be a rut in the pursuit of a passion, reaching out to communities with the same interest can spark a renewed love. Our hobbies act as part of our lives where we can find a community with a similar interest to build ourselves.

The Workplace

Aside from our hobbies, the workplace is a great place to keep your competitive wits sharp. We all started somewhere and want to grow in our professional careers. It is not enough to go through the emotions if we plan on getting somewhere. No matter where your career is, there are steps to take to make sure we are getting something out of our job. We can’t forget that going to work is a social endeavor, and the least you can do is be a compatible coworker. I’m not even saying you have to like your peers, but respecting them and their time invokes a better work environment for everyone. To show up, go through the motions, and then leave doesn’t help the company and especially doesn’t help yourself. Have an active mind while doing tasks, and you’ll see your work improve and get more out of it. An important question to ask during work is, “why?” Understanding the reasons, you do something and the value it brings to the company puts into perspective your value. From there, you get a better understanding of what the big picture is, and your part in it.

Adding Fuel to the Competition

In our culture, it’s not uncommon to be competitive, even its not us participating in the competition! Some don’t like to get caught up in the ‘my team’ vs. ‘your team,’ but it’s hard not to when you are born into it. And that’s just what happens for most of us. We are born into loving a team and hating the “other guys.” A lot has to do with where we were born, of course. Here in Utah, you can see that much of the state is either a University of Utah, BYU, or Utah State fan. But when it comes to picking an NFL team, you get a whole range of answers. That is when the competition begins. I, for one, enjoy all the passion that comes out when we root for our favorite teams. Rooting for our favorites wouldn’t be as fun without booing our least favorites, though. Being close to someone and rooting for two different teams playing each other makes the games WAY more interesting. There are friendly bets, bragging rights, and a lot of “in-your-face” that come along with it. The passion that’s shown while cheering on a team is unique as we who cheer rarely have any impact on the game’s outcome, but my goodness is it fun. Watching an athlete at the top of their game inspires awe in all that see, and it allows the viewers to get lost in the competition for a few hours. After the game we head back to reality to compete in our own lives.

Competition, goals, and rivalry are all mixed into each of our lives. Utilized properly, they can aid in a successful and healthy lifestyle. Take a step back and examine your role in your job, relationships, or hobbies, and I’m sure there is some tweaking that can be made to find more success. For many, the extra push they need is the feeling of competing against someone. Competition adds an extra layer of accountability and focus. A lot of the time, competition implies winning. But, as we age and we no longer compete in sports (aside from “beer league” softball or a two-hand touch Turkeybowl) there aren’t many chances to “win” in the more traditional sense, where there are clear winners and losers. Winning for the older folk means learning something new, accomplishing a task, or watching your team smoke the other side. Each win we get in life has a journey. Along these journeys to taste that sweet, sweet victory, we get to learn a lot about ourselves. No win comes easy, but it is always worth the sacrifice. By creating competition and rivals in different aspects of our lives we keep our passions lit.