Last week, I was driving to the grocery store with RB40 Jr. and I heard a segment of This American Life. In this episode, they were at a Jeep dealership as they try to meet their monthly sale goal at the end of the month. Their corporate headquarters sends the dealer a goal each month (129 in October) and if they surpass it, they will receive a big bonus. That’s why it’s good to buy a new car at the end of the month. If the dealer is close to the goal, they would be willing to sell some cars at a loss so they can receive the bonus.
In the car business, the salesman also competes with each other. A sales consultant will get a bonus if they sell a certain number of cars a month and the top salesmen will also receive extra bonuses. Anyway, one guy on the show grabbed my attention – Jason Mascia. He’s the leading salesman at the dealership and he has his own goals. Everyone else at the dealership is competing with each other, but Jason is only competing with himself. Most everyone is shooting for 15-20 sales a month. Jason hit 30 a few times and his personal Olympic goal is to sell 40 cars in one month. That’s a lot of cars.
I think it’s great that Jason can think that way. He is holding himself above the fray and has his own goals to achieve. That’s quite difficult in a competitive environment. You have to be at the top or be oblivious to stay out of the melee. That’s one of the things I didn’t like in the corporate environment. In my old job, we had a ranking and rating process once a year and it was always stressful. If you want a good raise or a promotion, you’ll have to be competitive and be noticeable. At Yahoo!, they are doing this ranking process every quarter in an effort to cut the fat. If you’re ranked low twice in a row, then you’re gone. Yahoo! let go of over 600 people so far and it doesn’t sound like a healthy work environment to me.
Competing with myself
I’m not a very competitive person by nature and I’m very glad I’m out of the corporate environment. As a self employed person, I can work as hard as I want. I don’t have to compete with anyone and I can go at my own pace. I know if I work hard, then there is a better chance of making more money. Luckily, we don’t really need a lot of income, so I can prioritize my kid over work these days.
Instead of competing with my coworkers, I compete with myself. I don’t need anyone to motivate me to write new articles and it’s great to keep my own schedule. I raise the bar constantly for Retire By 40. In 2013, I had striven to break 100,000 pageviews per month. We came close, but didn’t make it. I’ll keep trying to surpass that goal next year.
Comparing yourself with others
Are you keeping up with the Joneses? This is the dark side of competition. Some of our friends drive expensive cars, live in a big house, and often take luxurious vacations. It’s hard not to feel envious when Facebook bombards us with pictures of those who are living it up. It’s getting more and more difficult in today’s connected society to stay above the fray.
Actually, it was more difficult to live frugally when I was working. Most of my coworkers enjoyed the consumerism lifestyle and it was difficult to avoid competing. These days I have an out. I tell myself that they still have to head into the office every day while I’m spending quality time with my kid. It’s worth it to sacrifice some luxuries to gain the time to do what I want.
What about you? Do you compete with yourself or others?
Photo credit: flickr Damian Gadal