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Prompted: Choosing Which Games to Play
Trying to win someone else's game will never compare to winning our own.
Happy Sunday - thanks for being here :)
This week’s newsletter separates pursuits in which we follow rules laid out by someone else and pursuits where we need to make our own rules. Both have their time and place, but depending on the type of person we are, one can be more difficult than the other. I hope this week’s thoughts help you identify the difference between them and that the prompts help you build a plan for the future.
And as always, thanks for reading!
Choosing Which Games to Play
Make your own rules or be a slave to another man’s.
Whoever controls the trophies controls behavior. We’re all trying to “win” at something and chasing our own version of success, but to get our trophy, we have to follow rules laid out by someone else.
When the rules change in the NFL, the players conform to a new style of play in an effort to win at the end of the year. When our key performance indicators change at work, we adjust our behavior accordingly so we stay on track for a promotion.
In structured pursuits, chasing trophies and following the rules makes sense. In personal pursuits, trophies and rules become murkier.
Worthwhile pursuits of improving our fitness, deepening our relationships, creative projects, philanthropic efforts, and so much more don’t have a governing body handing out trophies and creating rules for us to follow. That’s what makes success in these areas uniquely admirable.
Without the structure provided by an external source, there are no trophies, and consequently, there are no rules to follow. Instead, everything about these pursuits is self-guided.
We’re not used to defining success and monitoring our path as we move toward it, but as the participants in these pursuits, we decide what the rules are and what the rewards should be. Without experience creating goals and structure, we look outside of ourselves to find the guardrails we’re used to.
If we’re not careful, we begin to adopt others’ goals as our own. It’s easy to compare ourselves and start chasing external validation instead of defining what success looks like for ourselves and creating our own rules to get there.
Looking to others for inspiration or guidance can be helpful, but chasing someone else’s trophy will never be fulfilling.
When it comes to worthwhile pursuits in our lives, we need to recognize we’re not used to creating our own version of success, defining guidelines to move in the right direction, and monitoring our progress along the way. All of these are difficult skills to learn, but playing by our own rules to achieve something we value is immensely more fulfilling than trying to compete with someone else for something we don’t want.
What worthwhile and self-guided pursuits are on your plate? What structured pursuits are you involved with?
What are the rules that define how you approach each pursuit? How are they different?
Does your approach for either type of pursuit need to change? If so, how?
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A quick read from Inc Magazine with additional ideas and prompts to help avoid pursuing goals that aren’t our own.
Thanks for reading! I’ll see you next Sunday.