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It’s Not About the Numbers: Focusing on the Right Stuff

I hate losing. Depending on the circumstances, my competitive drive can be a detriment or a benefit. Because of that drive, I have to constantly be mindful of keeping a focus on the right things in life rather than diving down the rabbit hole of comparison and number chasing.

What does that mean? Well, that’s what we’re getting at today. 

Comparison is the thief of joy

I don’t have a whole lot of notes for you on this one. I’m not going to lie, I’ve had a bit of a week. Maybe even two weeks. 

From time to time I feel a sense of burnout encroaching. Some might say that if I think I’m feeling it, then I’m already there. But that’s beside the point. There’s been a few moments in the past couple of weeks that caused me to pause and take note of what others were doing around me.

It’s not that I was doing anything wrong, per se, but that I noticed they were clearly doing things they weren’t prepared for. One such incident was in the gym, where another lifter was trying to pick up a relatively light amount of weight while using terrible form. It was unsafe.

That got me thinking about the number of people out there who try to speed ahead of their capabilities because, like me, they don’t like feeling as if they are a beginner. My wife, a professional classical musician, used to complain about how her students didn’t want to practice the basic scales enough.

I could relate. I was a poor guitar student for the same reason.

The problem, she would tell me, is that while it’s fun to jump ahead and try to do more complicated stuff, by skipping over the fundamentals you only harm yourself later on.

It’s funny how many things in life that applies to.

Ignoring the Numbers

Setting and pursuing goals is certainly important, but we need to keep things in context. Too many of us, especially me, feel as if we won’t be happy until we hit some arbitrary measurement of “success.” That’s true of shooting, fitness, and even running this site. 

But focusing solely on the numbers causes us to ignore the pleasures that come along with the path to mastery as well.

So I’m not saying we should ignore goals, but rather think of them as signposts on our own journies. We should seek less to compare ourselves against others and rather compete against ourselves.


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Matt is the primary author and owner of The Everyday Marksman. He's a former military officer turned professional tech sector trainer. He's a lifelong learner, passionate outdoorsman, and steadfast supporter of firearms culture.

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