“I have won at life!” said no one ever! But some will give it a very good try. These people are classed under the finite game. Those who hate uncertainty, do not like surprises, are driven to win and love to have control. This is a great mindset to have in the world of sport and those who wish to achieve but in the ‘normal’ world, let’s call it ’life’, these individuals do not always do so well. This I must add is through no fault of their own but it is said to be down to their brain not being able to switch off from the finite game and to switch on to the infinite game. The idea of the finite and infinite mindset were developed by Simon Sinek.
The Infinite game refers to those people who have a purpose to continue to work or play in a team game for fun or go to the Olympics with no set place in mind to finish, but just enjoy being there. These people often thrive in life as they can see the opportunity in everything and they are able to make small changes to build to the next and improve. They are open to change and like the element of surprise and taking risks.
In the finite game you tend to be playing alone and for one goal only whereas the infinite game you play as part of a team, can work with others and thrive to help others. Life doesn’t revolve around you and only you so being able to adapt and go between the two is key to make sure you can excel in both areas of your game.
So which are you?
Are you someone who has a special diet and regime?
You don’t like change and try to keep up a routine for as long as you can?
You hate not being in control and you do not like uncertainty or surprise?
Or are you?
Love to learn and start new things?
Open to change and chase uncertainty?
I can easily say which I am!
Now we cannot say either approach to life is bad, it all depends on you as a person, your upbringing and social surroundings, but what we can say is that if you follow the infinite game then maybe there are ways in which you should look to improve how you view life and what helps you to define who you are as a person. This will help you to bring that balance between your infinite game and your finite game and then perhaps you can thrive more in life.
Now I have explained the infinite game and finite game I will get onto what I really wanted to write this blog about.
How can you go from being in the finite game and switching that off to then enjoy your life and be you and enjoy the infinite game. I will admit this is something that I have struggled with a lot throughout my whole life especially since I have been a competitive athlete. It’s hard to stop your competitive mind and turn from ‘competition training’ to ‘enjoying training’ but this is something I have been working on a lot recently, hence the topic for this blog.
I have been known in the past to say things like
“No I am not going to play because I know I won’t win”
“What is the point in going to that competition if I am not going to win”
“I am not playing anymore, I’m bored” – when actually I was starting to lose so I quit just so I did not lose.
While these can be seen as really arrogant and grumpy comments they are not meant to be at all. The fact is that I am just not a great loser! In fact I’m a really bad loser so I would rather take myself out of that situation, when really I should be working on it and learning that it is ok to have fun and not win.
This is what leads me to how our identity shapes us and can actually hold us back in some ways. Our identity emerges out of our habits – what we repeatedly do and what we perceive ourselves to be. This does not take into account how others perceive us or how we believe they do. If I’m honest, this idea of how others perceive me or believe I should be a certain way, is something I have struggled to let go of and think to myself, well yes, I can be that person, but that does not need to be me all of the time.
The more we reinforce our identity through our perceived expectations or beliefs the more we ‘act’, ‘believe’ and ‘feel’ this way. While this can be great when you step on a competition floor, in real life this does not help because, as we mentioned before, you cannot win life.
Summed up “Your identity is literally your ‘repeated beingness’” – Atomic Habits – James Clear
So how do we get out of this back and forth thinking or even not being able to change your mindset from being that competitive person or living up to the thoughts and ways you think people think you should.
Firstly, you must look deep inside and find who you really are! Sounds deep I know but by this I mean, I am Lucy and I love to keep fit and stay healthy and I always want to do this but I can enjoy it as well as being competitive when I want to be and for fun.
Secondly, I must ask myself who I want to be and why do I do this? Do I want to be that competitive person in every aspect of my life? If I answered ‘yes’ and continued to be the infinite game individual then that would be fine if I was happy to have a very restricted life with great control over every small detail of it. But if I answered ‘no’ then I would need to find ways to take myself away from the areas of control and training when I was not in that situation. Learn to be me and relax outside of the gym. Learn to love the process and enjoy training. Yes, you can still compete when you want to but perhaps with the different idea of going to have fun and take part rather than saying you are not going to go unless you win.
Thirdly, you can still have pride in what you do and what you achieve and who you are but you realise that it does no longer consume you and that you can also have pride in yourself as an individual who is not an athlete.
I have spoken to many friends in the same industry as me and the idea of being able to switch yourself from ‘one person to another’ can be difficult. Switching the brain from your finite game to your infinite game can be even more challenging.
I have always feared what people thought of me once I was not competing as much anymore (I have never been an Olympic athlete and I am not trying to say I have but I have achieved some great things) I have always been told “Lucy you are superwoman and we all look up to you and love watching you compete you cannot ,stop” this is amazing and I love to hear that I can inspire others to be fit, healthy and strong, especially women, but what I have come to realise is that I can still do this whilst being a little more relaxed and learning to enjoy my life as well. In fact I may even find I excel.
These changes have not been easy and I can say the biggest and hardest change has been in my mind and I still battle with it some days but it is a work in progress.
My challenge now is to learn even more so that I do not need to ‘win at life’ but I need to ‘enjoy it more’
Let’s see how this goes.