Tonight I can see the new year over the horizon. In a few hours, the hands on the clock will stack on top of each other, chimes will ring, and cheers from all over my little piece of the world will crescendo in celebration. Welcoming a new year means inviting change and shifting perspectives into your life. It’s a time for fresh opportunities and a time to let go of people, situations, and ideas that aren’t serving you. For me, especially this year as I enter into a new decade of my life, it’s a time for reflecting on what is moving me forward and what is holding me back.

A few weeks ago, I decided that one of my themes for 2017 was going to be to speak truthfully even when it’s hard. As a fiction writer, it’s easy for me to hide behind pretty words and never quite allow my whole self to be seen and heard. I speak through my characters. I let them take those proverbial blows. While I’m still writing a lot of fiction in the upcoming year, I also want to focus on writing truth and creating a more mindful life for myself. One of the ways to do this, at least for me, is to work on my competitiveness because I’ve concluded that this behavior is not serving me and I’m pretty sure it’s not serving you.

Speaking truthfully . . .

I have always been a competitive person, and not a particularly fair or gracious competitor either. If you had more than me or if your life was moving in a wonderful direction, the truth is that I wasn’t happy for you. I didn’t think you deserved it. And, I didn’t want to even look at you. The desire to make nearly every aspect of my life a competition has both fueled my success and been my greatest handicap. You see, forming rivalries and getting the advantage over someone else were qualities of, what I thought, was a good leader, a successful business person, a person who was going to make it all the way to the top.

You know what, though? While competition may inspire you to reach your goals, I’ve learned that always being concerned with who’s ahead of who will always keep you from reaching your full potential. As a former small business owner and, now, a self-published author, I’ve discovered that focusing on being better than everyone else in your industry, niche or even your personal life is going to weigh you down. When you’re weighed down, you’re not free to fly.

Competing Takes the Focus Away from You

When you focus on your competitors, you lose track of what makes your talents special and unique. Instead, you become concerned with being “the norm.” Listen my friends, “the norm” is not a place you want to be. It’s like living in “the fine.” The norm and the fine are two places where you don’t shine and you become a blur to everyone who passes by you. Your talents and your aspirations will never be fully realized when you stand in the shadow or even walk side-by-side with competition.

Competition Restricts Creative Flow

Everyone has creative flow that runs through their bodies. It radiates from hairs on your head and shoots out from your fingers, toes, your heart, your mouth. The problem is that you can’t see the way the creative flow emanates from you. It’s something you have to believe more than you see. When you compete with others and try to match their creative flow, you’re restricting innovation and imagination. Without these two things, you’re not you. You’re them and the world doesn’t need more them. It needs more YOU.

Competition Fuels Self-doubt

You have amazing ideas. Those are ideas are one-of-a-kind because they belong to you. When an idea first rides the waves of our creative flow, it knows no boundaries. As a tiny idea in our head, we nurture it and give it all the love it deserves. We think it’s the most beautiful idea in the world, but then somewhere along the way we begin to consider other people’s creative babies and think that maybe ours isn’t that special. We want to compete, but we don’t think we can and we doubt our abilities. We doubt the process. This, my friends, is a tragedy. Think of where the world may be today if people didn’t give up on themselves so easily.

So, competition isn’t a bad thing. But like all things in life we have to find balance. You and only you know if competition is serving you. If it is, then great. Keep on keeping on, my friend. But if it’s not, consider letting go of competition this year and seeing where your beautiful and bold creative flow will take you!

Originally published at on January 1, 2017.