Finite Versus Infinite Games

The Game of Life.

Living your life is like playing a game. 

There are two types of games. The first category is called “Finite” games, the other “Infinite”.

As J. Carse says:

“A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play.”  (James Carse, Finite and Infinite Games)

Let’s go deeper into the psychological and philosophical consequences of these concepts. 

Here are a few examples.

Finite games:

Diet: You go on a diet not just for fun. The goal of a diet is weight loss. The ending point of the diet is when you reach your ideal weight. 

Sport: In a sporting event, one team will win, and the other will lose. When the match ends, the result must be accepted and the game is over.

Business: If your goal is to sell your products to someone else for a sum of money, the ending point of this game is when you effectively sell the product.

Education: Once you get your university degree, your formal education comes to an end. Once you have reached your goal, you win the education game.

Financial independenceOnce your savings and investments reached an amount of 25x your annual expenses you win the personal finance game, and can retire early.

Infinite games:

Eating habits: cultivating eating Habits is the exact opposite of going on a diet. It is a game that you play every day, indefinitely. 

e.g. Becoming a vegetarian, you can choose to eat only certain foods and you can embrace this diet indefinitely.

Exercise: If you exercise every day, you will make it a habit. 

If you can inglobate that activity into your daily routine, there is no ending point.

Business:  You can choose to build a no-ending business simply because you enjoy the work, and you actually can be paid for your work.

Learning: Instead of assimilating chunks of information without any joy, solely to receive a degree, you can take the habit of constantly learning every day.

There isn’t any ending point. You simply cannot win or lose the game of learning.

Wealth building: Instead of constantly thinking about a certain point where you will stop working, you can decide to constantly and day by day accumulate wealth for yourself and future generations.

This will be a no-end goal and can be done through consistently doing fulfilling and well-paid work.

The advantages of playing Infinite Games

Playing infinite games has better outcomes than finite games:

1. No need to wait to get satisfaction.

When you play a finite game you must wait until your goal is reached to be satisfied.

With infinite games, because there is no ending point, you can find satisfaction in the same action of playing the game. 

Finite games give you a one-time reward.

Infinite games reward you every single day you decide to play

2. Slow progress is not a problem.  

Playing a finite game it’s easy to get discouraged if you can’t reach your goal in a certain amount of time.  

Conversely, choosing to play an infinite game for many years to come, slow growth isn’t a problem, because you choose to walk a long journey, and enjoy every single step of the road ahead of you.

You have a long time horizon and doesn’t matter what will happen today or tomorrow.

If you’ll be able to stay patient, you can get 1% better every day.

You’ll notice incremental growth simply by sticking and repeating a single action on a daily basis. 

3. Enjoy the magic of compounding.

Compound growth takes years to reveal its mighty force.

Investing is the most obvious example.  

If you decide to invest $ 10000 in an index fund, adding $ 1000 per month, with an average 8% annual returns:

– in 10 years you will have $195.428;

– in 20 years you’ll have $595.753;

 – in 30 years you’ll got $1.460.025.

This is the incredible power of time and compounding.

The power of compound growth reveals itself also in many other fields. (link: Compound Interest Calculator)

The only way to take advantage of compounding is simply to stick with it for long enough, without interrupting it.

The Beauty of Infinite Games

Infinite games are more convenient, but there will be so many times in your life when you’ll have to play finite games to reach your goals.

E.G, before running your own business, you’ll have to work for someone else to get some money.

Or you have to go to college, to know the basics of the field that you’re interested in. 

It’s inevitable to play finite games at a certain point in our lives, but you’ll better find a way to change it to an infinite game, as soon as possible.

Living Your Life Playing Infinite Games

The secret to living a good and happy life is to play infinite games.

There are 4 main areas where you can choose to play your infinite games:

1. Health:  Avoid quick and drastic progress in health and diet.

You’ll better focus on adopting healthy eating and exercise habits that you can execute every day.   

2. Friends and Relationships:  

Having meaningful relationships is the key to a better life. 

Surround yourself with people you would to stay with forever

Choosing wisely your partner and your close friends can dramatically improve your quality of life.

3. Job:

You should do a job that you enjoy.

You have to find a job or a business that you can see yourself doing virtually forever. 

4. Personal Finance: 

Do NOT set a specific number that you want to achieve in your bank account.

Do NOT dream of never having to work again. 

Instead, choose to live your life as a long game to play.

Enjoy your work, and slowly increase your expertise, wisdom, and your wealth over the years.

Play infinite games in each of these areas, and you won’t have any regrets in life.