I am an extremely competitive person. That might sound strange coming from someone who considers herself very much a non-athlete, but it's true. There are many ways to compete, and I do so every day. I don't do it on a court or a field, I mostly do it in my head.
Not sure if it's because of my type-A personality, because I'm a Scorpio, or because I'm the offspring of an athlete. Whatever the case, if you spend some time in my head, it would sound very much like you were at a sporting event.
Sometimes I cheer myself on. If I've consistently run four miles my last few runs, on mile four I might tell myself, You got this! What's one more mile? The same can be said when I'm writing. YAY! You wrote 1,000 words. You can totally crank out another 500 - GO! That positive reinforcement is great and often works to get me to the next level. On days when I'm feeling sluggish, it's not enough.
On those days, I need something more potent than cheerleading. That's when I become a drill sergeant. When I'm moping around in the evening in one of my moods, I'll yell at myself (in my head) to take my butt to bed and stop wasting valuable resting time. I say it in not so nice terms and it works. It's like when I was a little girl and my mom would yell at me to get to bed. When I'm lifting halfheartedly I berate myself internally, telling myself that I'm not doing anything for my body if I'm not focused so I need to shape up, or leave the gym. When I write a shitty line or scene, the voice gets loud, reminding me that I paid big bucks to learn how to write, and I need to stop messing around or I'll never get my ROI on that investment. The voice is usually deeper than my every day voice, yet not quite masculine.
The best is when I challenge myself. Most of the time it's against my own accomplishments. If I do three reps, I challenge myself to do four. If I can lift 35lbs, I challenge myself to increase it by five. If I can write one chapter, why not two? Other times it is a challenge based on someone else. When others succeed in something I admire, I ask myself why I can't do that, or better yet, when will I surpass it? It gets the gears churning in my head about how I can do better than what exists. It has been the driving force in my life. I'm not some snob trying to be better than anyone else. When I see something in others that I know I can replicate, it doesn't seem like enough to emulate it, I want to put my own spin on it.
This competitive nature has gotten me to where I am today. It's not to say that my parents and other influences aren't a huge element of my achievements, because they are. Part of the challenge to myself has always been to make them proud. Doing better than expected is how I chose to do that most of the time. It has made me push harder when I didn't think I had it in me, and go above and beyond when I knew I could. It has served me well in life, so I'm glad that I treat myself like a star athlete, even if only in my mind.