Winning at the Game of Life

By John Hollyman11 May 2016

Everyone wants to win at the game of life. Like any other game, if you turn up not knowing the rules and how to use them to your advantage, then you stand no chance of coming out on top. Imagine turning up to a chess tournament but only knowing how to play checkers; you would be slaughtered.

Even more fundamental than knowing the rules of the game, is deciding what game you want to play in the first place. This uniquely human trait means we can tilt the board in our favour in a way no other species – or indeed many people who have lived before us – are able to do. A zebra can’t ‘opt out’ of the survival of the fittest and decide to make art; a human can.

Defining what ‘winning’ looks like for you is key to playing the money game in the right way, to get you where you want to go. We all have to play a game and if we don’t decide for ourselves what that game is going to be we’ll very quickly find ourselves playing someone else’s game.

Playing the wrong game well is worse than playing the right game poorly. Winning but feeling hollow and unfulfilled is a classic symptom of being stuck in the wrong game. This can be particularly problematic for driven and successful people – even though they are playing the wrong game the default setting is to just keep on trying harder and pushing further down the wrong path.

What winning looks like to you should determine how you play the game. If victory isn’t just accumulating as much wealth as possible, then setting up your life to maximise wealth isn’t the best strategy! As obvious as this seems, our default setting when it comes to money seems to be that ‘more is better’ even for those that say they value something else.

Playing the right game and playing it well starts with asking the right questions. No one else can give you the answers, but being clear on what ‘the good life’ is for you is the all important first step. Even go further than this and question your assumptions – always be asking the question ‘why?’ Avoid the trap of a false dichotomy – if the question seems to be I can either work hard at something I don’t like and get paid well or pursue my passion and live in poverty, always look for a third way.

A common criticism of ideas like this – and I won’t pretend this is even close to an original idea – is that it might be practical if you are young, with no responsibilities and a high risk tolerance, but with kids and a mortgage who can afford to take that risk? This is the false dichotomy that I warned against in the last paragraph!

You don’t have to overhaul your whole game in one go. Try just changing one rule, one pattern of behaviour that isn’t helpful in leading the life you want to. If you say your kids are the most important part of your life, but you find yourself stuck at work and missing their school play you don’t have to quit your job and home-school them, just take an afternoon off and go to the play. Hell, take a sick day, no one will notice anyway!

Winning at life is so much easier if you figure out what is important to you and play your own game. When you are playing your own game, you can’t lose – you get to make the rules and be the umpire. The most financially successful people we come across are the ones that are comfortable wanting what they want and arranging their lives to put that front and centre. Conversely the people who always seem to struggle and never get ahead are the ones trying to win at someone else’s game.

If you need help determining your personal game and rule to achieving your financial goals just get in touch with the Eqeus team.


John Hollyman

John’s clients say it is his attention to their story, his ability to lead their journey to discovering wealth and his fundamental desire to get things done that sets him apart from others in his field, while his peers quote trustworthiness, clear strategic thinking and thoroughness that goes above and beyond expectations.

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