Perhaps this is a bit trite, but one of the most satisfying things for me is when I compete against myself and manage to beat my personal best / high score / whatever.
This could be besting your personal race time, or holding your breath for longer than ever before, or holding a new pose in yoga, or losing weight, or lifting heavier weights, or having more visitors to your website, or more customers than any other month, or more revenue than ever before. Whatever. There are so many different ways that we can try to challenge ourselves and our current record.
Competing with yourself is completely different to competing with others, in my experience anyway. I don’t find competing with others to be anywhere near as rewarding, unless we’re very closely matched, in which case it’s like I’m just competing against another version of me and we’re back to square one.
When you compete with others, there’s always the possibility that no matter what you do, they will win because they’re starting from a better starting position, whilst putting in the same amount of work as you. Sure, that could spur you to try even harder, but that can only go so far until you burn out.
When you compete against yourself, you know when you’re better than you were yesterday, and it feels amazing.
Plus, there will always be someone better than you in everything, and comparing yourself to them can be demotivating. With almost eight billion people on the planet, the chances are really slim that you are the best at anything. And if you’re certain that you are? Well… now you’re back to competing against yourself to go the distance and break your own records again.