Life is not a competition

“Your only competition is you” and “The only competition is with the person you were yesterday.” This is the advice we get whenever we fall into the trap of comparison.

Even though the advice may sound logical, I believe that life should not be viewed as competition. In this article, I elaborate on the positive and harmful effects of having a competitive mindset regarding life. 

What is a competitive mindset?

Let’s first define what we are talking about when we talk about ‘competition;  and a ‘competitive mindset’.

A competitive mindset refers to seeing a situation as a competition.

Competition is defined as the activity or condition of striving to gain or win something by defeating or establishing superiority over others.

Life is not a competition

Competition by itself is neither good nor bad

In biology, competition between organisms is a natural result of evolution. Our tendency for competitiveness is a normal part of the human experience and by itself is neither good nor bad.

In life, there is a time and place for competing. From sports to board games, and even during a job hunt, competition is inevitable and can be very useful.

Having a competitive mindset can be a driver for us to challenge ourselves and, by doing so, allow ourselves to develop our talent and skills and get the most out of our potential.

So, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to “win” whatever “games” we play in life, and when done consciously, competing can be something positive. 

When is viewing life as a competition harmful?

That being said, competition can become something harmful when we tie winning or losing to our value as human beings.

When we link our worth as human beings, competing can make us feel better than or inferior to others and our performance can make us feel “better” or “worse” based on ‘who wins.’

Why “You are your only competition” is not the solution

The advice: “You are your only competition.” does not solve the possible harmful effects of competing, as it only shifts our attention to ourselves but does not change anything about the link we tend to make between our self-worth and performance.

The word ‘competition,’ by definition, suggests superiority. When we start to compete with ourselves, it implies superiority regarding the different versions of ourselves, as if  ‘one version’ of you can win over the other. 

Self-development is not about one version of you being better than the other. We have many possible, equal but different, versions.


Life is not a competition

While competition may be a natural part of our everyday lives, our life is not a competition, being human is not a competition. You don’t have to compete with anyone, and especially not with yourself. 

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About Lian

Hi, I’m Lian Angelino, a certified Career coach passionate about helping women move through their careers and daily lives with more ease and meaning.

I combine my background in Work Psychology, Mental Health Sciences, and Leadership development to help you get clear about what makes you tick and gain clarity around difficult career choices.

If you would like help in searching for your next role, finding clarity around a career challenge, or are looking for a structured way to approach your job search, learn more about my services here

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