Life Is Not A Competition

Photo by Victoire Joncheray on Unsplash

There’s a person I follow online. An entrepreneur, whose posts are all about her latest car purchases, who she knows and the million projects she’s running.

It’s exhausting to follow her.

And it would be easy to stop but I use her as a reminder to myself: life is not a competition.

You see, I’m very competitive. If I paint, I paint the most paintings. If I write, I write the most things. And so on

And until recently, as an entrepreneur myself, I was doing the most things. Showing up in various capacities in the various facets of my business. Teacher, artist, writer, mentor, freelancer and more.

Over the last few years, as I’ve made changes to slow my frantic pace, I need the reminders not to fill my days with stuff. That, while overwhelm is my comfort zone, it isn’t the right space for me to be in.

With this entrepreneur I’m following, I’m reminded of that lesson.

But I’m also reminded of how fragile life is. That as she’s running around, having the most perfect, full, crazy busy life according to North American standards, I wonder how much she’s missing.

I’m not judging her here, but again using her as a reminder. Life can change in a hot second. A slip, an accident, a health emergency and it becomes unrecognizable.

Do your acquired toys, houses, cars and stuff care if you can no longer enjoy them?

Do the people you breeze by in your work, the ones you levered yourself above in your presence, step up to help you when you’re down?

When you picture your life, what do you want to see?

I once had a dream about my funeral. Now this was a couple of years before I had my big life change so things were very different for me.

I was working in my tech company, running it from my basement. Communicating with my contractors and clients via email or text only. Essentially in isolation.

And in this dream, I had died suddenly. The actual death doesn’t matter but I remember haunting my own funeral. My casket was at the front of the room. Rows and rows of empty chairs filled the space. My ex and kids, milling about being sad.

I was devastated. Not at my death but at the lack of people present. That my life had so little impact that no one showed up.

At the back of the room, a table full of food was present for the mourners and one person was standing there.

AHHHHHHHHHH! Someone cared!

It was my biggest client, and he turned to my ex (who thanked him for coming), an egg salad sandwich in each hand, and said, “I only came for the food.”

Now I rarely remember dreams, and certainly not years later, but this one stuck with me because it was my life right there. Working my ass off in isolation. Focused on earning a ton of money.

And missing out completely on life.

I also realized in that moment that what I wanted from my life was not what I was actually doing. I had wanted to have impact and make a difference in this world. Not for accolades but just to know that I didn’t just further myself, but that I had made it better or easier for someone else.

In the owning of the things, and the flashing of the cars or badges of wealth, I am not living that mandate.

Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting, earning and having money. I am totally here for that. But in experiencing first hand how quickly life can and does change, I want to have the connections and memories to hold onto.

A life well lived is one filled with other people who are around, not because they want something, but because they love you.

That when you turn the people around you into your competitors, you are creating fragile connections at best.

That maybe the hustle doesn’t matter.

I’m grateful to that entrepreneur for the reminders. This is a great time to pause and reflect on whether the life you’re living is the one you want. And if it isn’t, what can you do to change it?