- in Careers
The career game. We all play it. Sometimes with great success, sometimes less so. But have you ever looked at your career as a game? I suggest you adopt this mindset. Here's why.
The Career Game
- When you look at something as a game, you maintain a certain detachment and don't take things so utterly seriously. You are much lighter in what you do, you tend to make better decisions.
- This games framework puts an emphasis on mastering the rules. When you are playing a game, you need to know the rules. Work in a bureaucracy? Make sure you know very very well what the rules are for getting promoted. Pursuing online entrepreneurship? Be sure to master the quirks of Google's ranking algorithm, those are a crucial part of the rules of the game. Want to get into a top-shelf university? Figure out what they are looking for, and give it to the decision makers. It's really that simple.
- To play a game well, you have to sharpen your skills and gain mastery over time. Nobody kids themselves that the person who won the game of Wimbledon won this game without massive amounts of incremental practice, effort, and short-term losses. This focuses you on developing your skills over time, rather than hoping for moonshot success (almost never realistic).
- When you look at things as a game, you have fun! You might find you are much less stressed when you don't look at your career as a life or death proposition. You drain the situation of too much worry and attachment. Each situation and decision is like a point in a tennis match, rather than the ultimate concern. Can you feel the stress and worry evaporating?
The Savings Game
- This perspective doesn't just apply to thinking about your career. It is just as important when approaching saving and investing. For me, being smart about saving money is a game I take great pleasure in. Being smart and saving thousands on a car or electronics just makes me chuckle. Buying toothpaste in bulk at Costco rather than one tube at a time at CVS saves money and time. It's just a game.
Investing is the Ultimate Game
- Perhaps the ultimate game is investing because it draws upon both technical knowledge and your ability to keep your own internal psychology under control. The ultimate barrier to successful investing is your own mind and instincts urging you to make the wrong decisions at the wrong time. That's the ultimate game. Why do you think the greatest investors in the world never retire and keep investing into their eighties? They are completely absorbed by the game. (It's no accident that many great investors also love to play bridge or poker.)
There are other areas of life that lend themselves to game thinking (including dating), but the above bullets provide enough examples.
Let's All Lighten Up, And Let The Games Begin….
So let's not take it all so deadly seriously. Sometimes you win a round, sometimes you lose. The key is to keep playing, master skills, develop your theme, and enjoy the process. You'll find you relate to life from a much lighter perspective this way.
So what about you? How's your career game going? If you are experiencing a setback, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, sharpen your skills, and hop back in. It's all just a bit of fun, after all.