Motivate Yourself with Fake Rivalries

Posted on July 26, 2011


When I find myself lazy or lacking motivation in some important aspect of life, I try and outline the problem and set a series of goals to help me regain focus.

When that doesn’t work, I try and invent rivalries and enemies in the hopes that I’ll gain inspiration through the desire to show them up.  If I’m eating too much junk food, I say to myself, “No more pizza, Paul!  That’s exactly what George Clooney would want you to do.  George Clooney wants you to get fat and lazy so you can’t defend yourself in a fight when he tries to steal your wife!”

Once you get married, many people worry less about personal appearance and weight because they no longer worry about winning a romantic partner.  This is a mistake and the reason why I’ve begged my wife to help me keep fit by flirting with any guy who appears to be in better shape than I am.  This is why I’ve actually grown more handsome with each year of marriage.

Parenting presents a similar challenge: How do I keep myself motivated to be a better and better dad?  My solution was to create rivalries with the fathers of my sons’ friends.

When The Fonz returns from Evans house, I ask, “Did Evan’s dad mention how much he can bench-press?  Whatever number he gives, make sure and add twenty pounds and say that’s what your dad can bench.”

Checkmate, Evan’s dad!

When Optimist Prime says he’s going to Tyler’s house, I say, “Make sure and ask his dad what he thought of the new Harry Potter movie.”  I ask this because I know Tyler’s dad will answer that he’s never seen the movies or read the books, and OP will realize I’m the better dad because I’m interested in the things my kids like.

You're going to have to do better than 8'2", Tyler's dad!

Your move, Tyler’s dad!

I often stand on a balance board while watching TV and once stood through all of Return of the Jedi without touching the floor once.  The first thing I said after accomplishing this incredible feat was, “You two go and ask Tyler and Evan’s dads if they’ve ever stood on a balance board through any of the Star Wars movies, although I don’t think we should count episodes I, II, or III.”  The answer from both dads was no.

Come on Tyler and Evan’s dads, I’m going to start lapping you soon.  You’re embarrassing your kids.

When I do Legos with the boys, I like building giant staircases.  I always start with the same amount of pieces, but I constantly try and change my design to see how high I can make it before it topples over.  Every time I beat my own record, I tell OP to run over to Tyler’s house and ask his dad for his Lego staircase record.  Not surprisingly, Tyler’s dad has no record at all, let alone a record of over seven feet like this awesome dad.

The rivalry has become so one-sided, I’m trying to make myself believe the other dads are pretending not to try as part of a mind game.

“Did you have fun at Tyler’s house?”
“Did his dad say anything about me?”
“Yeah, I bet I never cross his mind.  He thinks he’s the best dad.  Probably figures I’m not even in his league. Well, I’ll be on your radar soon enough, Tyler’s dad!”

Posted in: Family