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Stop Trying to Win the Infinite Game -Article #6

Updated: Oct 11, 2019

Do you ever feel like your life is on a hamster wheel? Wake up. Work. Repeat. 

Sure, sometimes it's a great day because you accomplish a goal. You'll be happy for a day or two and then its back on the wheel where you start to feel unsatisfied and unfulfilled...

Happy hour is too short, where is the lasting JOY?

The issue could be that you're trying to "win" the infinite game. Let me explain...

There are two types of games:

1) Finite games: Finite games have known players, fixed rules, fixed time, and an agreed upon objective. 

  • E.g. Quarterly sales goal. If you sell "x" amount of product, you get the bonus.

  • E.g. Football game. If you score more points, you win (unless you're the Lions).

Finite games have a beginning, middle, and end. You can win a finite game.

2) Infinite games: Infinite games have known & unknown players, no rules, and the objective is to simply STAY in the game as long as possible.

  • E.g. Education. You can score the highest on a test, but your education will never end.

  • E.g. Marriage. You can't be #1 in marriage. You can stay married for 50 years but you're not in 1st, 2nd or 3rd.

  • E.g. Health. You can't "win" at health. You can lose 10lbs, but your health isn't over. 

Thought leader, Simon Sinek, describes infinite games as a just cause or a belief or a vision of a better future. You will never accomplish the vision, you can only advance the progress of the vision. Hence the infinite game. 

There can be lots of finite games (goals) within your infinite game (vision of the future).

E.g. The vision is to live a healthy life, the goal is to jog 10 miles per week and eat better.

Where's the joy part?

You'll feel happy after accomplishing a goal. But by definition, your happiness will end just like the goal did.

Joy is something deeper and everlasting. Joy is where true gratitude and contentment live.

Much of our society is trying to find lasting joy in short-term finite games. But if you meet your sales goal this quarter, next quarter you'll need to start over and it won't take long before you feel like you're back on the hamster wheel. 

I BELIEVE JOY is found when one is able to identify their vision of a brighter future and has the self-realization to understand that everyday is another opportunity to advance this vision, not to win it! Think of your sales goal as  another opportunity to advance your vision of education, or ability to lead, or ability to help others, etc. 

That doesn't mean everyday will be rainbow and butterflies. Life is tough!

There will constantly be moments of happiness and unhappiness while advancing your vision, but hopefully this mindset will at least change your perspective to see that you're NOT actually on a hamster wheel.

My Sincere Advice

Do your best to step back from the day-to-day tasks and identify your vision of a better future. As a person, what in life is important to you? What do you want people to remember you for? 

Once you are able to see the bigger picture, the "boring routine" now becomes another opportunity to advance your vision no matter how small the task. 

If you enjoy the journey, you've already won! 

This post was inspired by Simon Sinek. For a much better explanation: Watch Simon on YouTube Or listen to his interview on the Short Story Long Podcast

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