Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to stick to your goals if you have a partner with similar goals? Whether it comes to going to the gym, losing weight or maybe you remember doing homework with a friend, it is easier when you’re in it together.
Why is it easier to stick to your goals with a buddy? You will be more likely to stick to your goals if they are shared with another person, because you have to answer to them as well as to yourself. By reason of the commitment you made, you can’t just say “I don’t feel like doing this today”, because the other person is there waiting for you, and you probably don’t want to stand him up. Furthermore, you don’t want to be seen as a weak person, especially if your buddy does have enough willpower or self-discipline to do whatever you agreed on doing.
“Death isn’t sad: The sad thing is most people don’t live at all”
-From the movie ‘Peaceful Warrior’
A buddy of mine and I had a routine where we would go for runs on every Tuesday afternoon. We did this for almost a year, with maybe a couple of weeks of vacation in between. To not break the routine, we promised each other that we would still go for a run (separately) on Tuesday afternoon while we were both on vacation.
This routine is one of the most effective shared routines that I’ve had in my life because:
1: Excuses were not allowed
2: We didn’t break the routine (not even for vacation)
3: We rewarded ourselves afterwards with a home-made milkshake
4: We pushed each other to continue
5: The time and place were always the same
Here’s more information on routines and rituals.
“Depression comes from inaction. People often ask me: ‘I’m depressed, what should I do?’
I tell them: Well anything!”
Do you see all the elements that are involved? It is the element of rewarding ourselves after a good run. No excuses or exceptions. No ambiguity about the time or place, so neither one of us could make a mistake and not show up. Perhaps, the most important thing about creating friendly competition is that you somehow want to be better than the other person. There is a competitive element to it, if not consciously then subconsciously.
We are competitive creatures, so use this to your advantage and create a routine with a person who is at your level of performance, or ideally a little bit better. You will improve or learn the most if your friendly competitor is a little bit better. He or she will challenge you to come up with new ways to win, be faster or stronger.
As a result of this, your level of performance will not stagnate, but you will keep on growing.
It is of course important to set your own goals and not be dependent upon the goals of your friendly competition. The other person might just be less ambitious than you are, maybe overly ambitious, or maybe he or she simply learns faster. It might well be that this person has a different metabolism, which causes the physical results you both have to differ, even though you’re doing the same thing.
So keep in mind that you are using your competitive nature to get the best out of yourself, not to actually be better than the other person. Therefore, it might be a very good idea to set personal goals before using this self-discipline technique to challenge yourself. (Here’s a complete list of ideas on how to get self-discipline)
It goes without saying that even though you have this competition going, you will always be there to support one another. It is not about reaching the finish line first, it’s about making sure that you both reach the finish line. If you have run faster than you ever have and improved your personal record by 5 minutes, and your buddy wasn’t able to reach the finish line at all, you have failed.
I have personally found bigger groups (2+) to not work as well as just having one training buddy. In a bigger group, it is much easier to say; “Hey guys, I’m sitting this one out, have fun today”. However, you can’t do stuff like that in a one on one situation.
Compete with Yourself
What you can try however is by competing against yourself. I remember a game on the Nintendo 64 that I used to play as a kid, Diddy Kong Racing. Aside from the fact that this game is simply the most epic racing game ever made, it allowed you to race against your past-self, your ghost.
If you have ever been playing games like these, you would probably have come across similar functions. The take-away here is that you can do the same thing in real life. Keep track of your previous performances and try to outdo your past-self.
The friendly competition that my buddy (Joris) and I started out with has evolved into a sort of coaching friendship. We always call each other to ask how the other is doing with his ‘homework’. To us, homework means studies, sports, movies, books, courses and everything else that makes you grow as a person. In case one of us isn’t able to talk for 30 minutes straight about all of the new stuff we have experienced or been watching and reading about, the other one knows that something is wrong.
During this conversation, it literally rains new recommendations of books to read, movies to watch, new sports to try out, subjects to get into, everything. This is extremely motivating and informative for the both of us.
If you have the chance to create a coaching friendship like this one with a friend, or maybe even your significant other, do it. It is one of the most valuable and fun relationships you’ll ever have in your life.
“There is a profound difference between pleasure and satisfaction. Pleasure is cheap. A cheeseburger and a couple of martinis will do the trick. But pleasure doesn’t last very long. Satisfaction requires a more significant investment of effort – often to the point of discomfort. The payoff, however, is deeper and more enduring.”