This week, I discuss the importance of competing with yourself.

Table of Contents


The Purpose of Competition

self-competition | woman jogging

Competition pushes individuals to perform at their best.

“Never compete with someone who has nothing to lose.” – Baltasar Gracian

Competition forces individuals to improve themselves to secure resources, attention, and status. Competing ensures you are trying your best to excel at whatever you wish to do. By competing with others, you adapt, learn, and grow.

And remember, competition does not mean a society without cooperation. You can have a generous, kind, and capable society where individuals compete. Therefore, competition is not a net negative. Our civilization improves when individuals work continuously at their jobs, relationships, and skills. A society where no one has to compete is a society of lazy, entitled individuals who will never amount to anything.

Why Should You Compete With Yourself?

competition | bikers racing

The more you improve yourself, the more control you can have over your life.

Competition is useless and destructive when used to compare impossible standards. When you pursue self-improvement, you should not compare yourself to who someone else is today, especially if you’ve just started on your journey.

For example, if you commit yourself to the gym, it is self-destructive to compare yourself to the personal trainer with a six-pack. Your comparison doesn’t consider the trainer’s job, how long they’ve been exercising, or their expertise. By comparing yourself, a novice, to an expert, you are comparing apples and oranges. But you’ll become discouraged when you do not see immediate results in your exercise regime.

The best way to prevent this destruction is competition with yourself. You understand your end goals, know your desires, and can easily track your actions. You know whether you’re trying hard enough, your responsibilities, and how much passion you have for each goal. Your intimate knowledge of yourself makes self-competition the ideal state of mind when seeking self-improvement.

Therefore, you should consider three ideas when you think about competing with yourself.

Firstly, Seek something meaningful to compete over

woman sweating | self-competition

Competition without purpose will lead to burnout. You need a great goal to pursue; otherwise, you’ll become embittered and bored.

“If you’re not gonna go all the way, why go at all?” – Joe Namath

Competition is useless if done over things that are not important. You should never focus your self-improvement efforts on areas that do not serve your virtuous ends. Getting in shape, being a better partner, accomplishing your creative goals, and so on are things you should improve.

When you focus on what you can control and what makes you better, then you can remain inspired and humbled by the progress you will make.

Secondly, let self-competition start with your commitment instead of developing raw skill

measure progress | woman measuring clothes

You must create a habit of excellence before you measure your progress.

You should never judge your efforts based on raw skill. Always start the competition with commitment, time investment, and focus. Once you solidify your dedication and increase your expertise, you can start looking at your skill growth.

Why obsess over dedication? Because when you start competing with yourself, you are rarely an expert. How do you know if you are improving, and what metrics can you use to define that improvement? Sure, you can go to the gym and track the weights you lift. But how should you be lifting? What muscle groups should you work on and on what days? What end goal do you have in mind? These questions are easier to answer as you develop the habit.

If you obsess over your dedication, you’ll naturally learn how to answer these types of questions and create a regime to track your progress.

Everything you wish to improve will require your attention and time. You can’t compete if you are not committed each day. Therefore, ensuring you’re more engaged today than you were yesterday will give you the foundation you need to build your skills, enhance your behavior, and become a better individual.

Lastly, remember to keep track of your self-competition

track progress | person running up stairs

Track your progress, so you can see how far you have come and how much further you have to go.

Once you’ve determined what you’re going to do and developed the habit of doing it, the most crucial step is to track your progress. Tracking your progress ensures you can directly compete with yourself, day in and day out.

Writing down goals within a journal is best. Additionally, commit to writing your thoughts about your performance – note where you faltered while celebrating where you succeeded. Do not refrain from self-criticism or rational pride. And the goal you are trying to accomplish will determine your competition and how you track progress. This conundrum is why you should focus on commitment instead of raw skill.

The more you work at a goal, the better you can grasp what parameters best determine your progress. When you track your actions, you are connected to who you are becoming.

Remember, self-competition is mainly about progress

competition progress | man exercising

Do not listen to weak individuals. Competition will give your life purpose as you pursue what is meaningful.

“A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.” – Ayn Rand

Competition enforces progress. By improving every day, you will progress towards the goals you want to accomplish. Self-improvement is crucial to a meaningful and happy life.

If you are always pushing to be the best version of yourself, you will succeed. So compete. Do not waste time comparing yourself to others. Simply focus on being better today than you were yesterday, and you will excel.


  1. What is one thing you want to try or improve in? Why do you want to pursue this goal? What about it calls to you?
  2. What is one skill you’ve improved over the years? How did you do it? How can you copy what you’ve done here into other areas of your life?
  3. Who inspires you? What do you admire about them? Do you think they were always this capable, competent, and talented?

Please remember that it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume. *Image credit to Unsplash.