If your finances are doing well, it only makes sense that you’d want to push them to get better, right? After all, you’ve seen a taste of success, and things are only better once you hit the top. The more money you have, the better things are going, right? Well… it depends how you see it!
Life’s About Competing
All businesses have competitors, and all humans do, to some extent. Perhaps you dream of owning a great car, because your neighbours are always flaunting theirs. Or perhaps there’s a girl you like, but you find out she’s already taken? These things are challenging, but they’re made easier to deal with because although we want the things we can’t have, we don’t always feel that these things were in our grasp, or ours for the taking. We don’t actually feel that we’re in constant competition, not literally!
But what about when you’re pitted against others explicitly? Why does an actual competition make us care that much more? What about you’re coming in second in everything, just shy of the winning place – and you’re being labelled that way? Being the best is always being the best. But what about when you’re so close, yet so far? Is it arguably worse? Let’s look at a few examples to explain.
According to some, people competing professionally might actually prefer to come in third place than in second. For example, there’s some logic out there that says people who play poker might feel that they lost out and failed by coming in second, whereas a third place poker player might just be thankful that they placed at all. It’s easy to imagine why, as poker is a game requiring such skill, not placing first could easily leave you feeling a failure. However, coming in third could bring relief. Sure, you know you’re not a winner, but you’re not a loser, either. As poker pits two or more players against each other, facing off by trying to call each other’s potential bluffs, ending up second usually means not having realised someone was bluffing, or having called a bluff which wasn’t a bluff – therefore, you have lost the battle even if you ranked second overall.
Similarly, athletes have been described to feel the same way; with bronze medallists relieved to have beaten everyone else, as the silver medallists mourn the loss of something they almost won. They also work for years on their talents. A second place position would leave them questioning everything, while third would have them thanking the fact they received recognition for their efforts at all!
However, it’s all relative. If you’re living modestly, perhaps it’s better to just consider that you’re doing better than a lot of people out there. Competing to have the best of everything can get exhausting, after all, and there will probably always be someone out there who has things better than you. And there will always be someone who won’t be wishing they had their neighbour’s car, but something far more important, like their food.
So, Should You Just Stop Trying?
So, how about in life? Would “coming second” be a nightmare for you, enough to stop you from trying to succeed in the first place? Let’s be real. People who come in second place are doing better than anyone else except first place! Even though it can be somewhat frustrating to lose out to the top spot, doing that well is still better than how (almost) everyone else is doing, and, like the poker players in the article, sometimes you just have to be grateful for what you do have.
Maybe millionaires don’t have to be your competition, and maybe life isn’t really a competition at all. But that doesn’t mean you can’t push yourself.
And if you don’t try, you’ll never know – and you’ll never be your own winner.