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Stop Keeping Score

Don’t waste your time tracking every little thing. You'll miss the big picture.

Darius Foroux

Read when you’ve got time to spare.

Who does the most work in the office? Who gets the most attention? Who did most of the cleaning in the house? Who bought the most presents? Who called who the most?

The answer is this: No one cares about the silly scorecards inside your brain.

When people keep score, there’s only one outcome: Resentment.

Studies show that we often overestimate our contribution. In social psychology, that’s called the Egocentric Bias.

The term was first used by Michael Ross and Fiore Sicoly in a 1979 study. The researchers found that nearly 75% of married couples overestimated their contribution to the relationship. They looked at stuff like cooking, making decisions, causing arguments, any other things that are a part of relationships.

It’s natural for us to be biased toward taking credit for achievements and blaming others for losses. We’re pretty egocentric. That’s what we knew before all the scientific research.

Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology, said:

“An inflated consciousness is always egocentric and conscious of nothing but its own existence. It is incapable of learning from the past, incapable of understanding contemporary events, and incapable of drawing right conclusions about the future. It is hypnotized by itself and therefore cannot be argued with. It inevitably dooms itself to calamities that must strike it dead.”

We’re not aware of it. That’s why you have to train yourself to stop feeding your ego by keeping score. It’s unhealthy and only causes conflicts.

I’ve had conflicts in the past about keeping score. At work, but also in my relationships. I’ve also seen family members destroy relationships because they kept score.

You have nothing to prove.

I think there’s a relationship between keeping score and self-confidence. Keeping score is something you do to prove a point, right? There’s no other reason I can think of after reading, researching, and talking endlessly about this subject.

Or maybe you want a trophy or something? I don’t know.

But here’s the thing: If you’re confident, and you believe in your ability, there’s nothing to prove.

Just play your part. It’s none of your business how others behave. If you’re upset about something, that’s an entirely different story.

If you feel that your spouse is doing less for your relationship than you, say it. Don’t get all frustrated by convincing yourself that you do all the work. And then your friends say shit like:

  • “He doesn’t know your worth.”
  • “You’re the best thing she can do.”

Or when it comes to work, people say:

  • “You deserve more money because you do all the work.”
  • “You should stop working hard because they don’t value you.”

You might think your friend is helping you, but this type of thinking is not helpful at all.

I’ll keep it real with you: Don’t talk. Act.

Play the long game and collaborate.

Look, I’m not saying that it’s okay that you’re in an unequal relationship, personally or professionally. But life is not fair. Either change it or get out.

Stop thinking in concepts like “fair.” It’s completely meaningless and has no useful function. It only causes conflict because it’s subjective.

Or, if you want to make it objective, you can look at your relationships like a spreadsheet. You can record every single minute of work people do. Then, you can see what’s fair. But that creates fear because you always have to think about balancing everything.

I don’t like that. Instead, I look at relationships like a long-term collaboration.

I don’t worry about keeping score, because I know that, over a lifetime, the score will always be equal. It makes no sense keeping score because we all chase the same goals.

In the end, everything will even out anyway. Also, you don’t have to keep a spreadsheet for the rest of your life. Just do what you have to do, and don’t think about who did the most work.

If you really want to achieve things in life, and get actual work done, you have to collaborate with others. You will never achieve something on your own.

Focus on team results, not personal results.

Look, not all people in life are generous. We’re all selfish. But some people are just way too extreme. I stay away from those people.

And fortunately, there are enough good people in this world. It’s much better to find like-minded people who share the same beliefs as you.

Keeping score is a nasty trait that you want to avoid at all costs. You have the ability to change yourself, but you can’t change others. You can only make them aware of something.

If others decide to change, that’s great. If not, that’s not your problem. I don’t want to spend much time talking about negative people because we all know them.

Just understand that this is your life, and that means you decide who you spend your time with.

And if you want to achieve something that matters, you have to surround yourself with good people. People who care about collective results.

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This post originally appeared on Darius Foroux and was published November 28, 2016. This article is republished here with permission.

Darius Foroux writes about productivity, habits, decision making, and personal finance.

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