How comparing yourself slows you down

This post first appeared on JUST NAKED MIND  (my secondary blog) on July 27, 2013.

Every so often each one of us gets to a point in life where the beauty in someone else’s work attracts us, but not only attracts us, makes us think. The thinking gets deeper when it’s someone you know or someone who is in the same age group as you. “Why can’t I do that? We’re the same age, same size and we use the same tools”.

It’s not jealousy; it’s simply wishing you had gone that far also. Jealousy is seeing someone succeed and hating them for it. In this case you’re not jealous but you’re not inspired either. You start looking for reasons to why you aren’t there yet instead of how you will get there.

You keep thinking more and more, eventually you start to believe maybe you’re not meant to be there, maybe you can’t do it and you become uninspired.

Imagine this, there’s a group of 3 friends who went to university together, studying similar courses but not exact same course. As soon as they graduate, the first friend lands a job at a big company, the other two are happy for her. The second friend starts her own business, it’s still small but she’s happy doing it. The last friend wants a job at a big company too but she’s still struggling with her part time job which she’s had since university. Every day, she sees herself as a failure because her friends have made a move in life and she’s still in the same place.

While some people see other people’s success as motivation to strive harder to reach the top and become even more successful than their motivator, some people just feel taken over; they feel they can’t beat that effort.

The problem here is comparison. Comparing yourself to other people will take your eyes off your own goals. Even if watching someone else’s success motivates you, it could be motivating you in the wrong direction because you will start following their ways of doing things so that you can reach that level too but that way has already been done so your finished product will start to resemble their success and not your success.

I agree, sometimes we need to see the different ways of doing things and how other people work but comparing your work to theirs will surely slow you down. Success for all of us is different and we accomplish different things at different stages of our lives. You might be thinking since your friends are all doing one thing, you should be doing it also but you really should do things at your own pace. Don’t push yourself too hard but don’t relax and think you have all the time in the world. Do what you want when you want and your reward will come when it comes.

Comparing yourself will start to confuse you: you might begin to think “well this person has already done it perfectly, so why do I need to do it”, “I can never be great”, “maybe I’m not doing the wrong course or job” and your insecurities will start to grow, you will only see negatives about yourself instead of the many positives.

Here are ways to keep your eyes on your own goal:

1. Define what success means to you. Is it having a well-rounded happy family of your own, or making thousands of money? Is success to you being content in the next stages of your life, being happy no matter the issue? Staying active till you grow too old to be active? Think hard about your direction and where you want your destination to be. (Everyone wants to make money but it’s not everyone’s main aim in life)

2. Make a move. Make it a habit to do something every day towards your future, before you know it you’ll be living the life you want. Going back to the scenario earlier, because the last friend keeps comparing her success to her friends’ she’s lost hope in her abilities but you don’t know your tomorrow so better start stepping today. Your friends’ succeeding today doesn’t mean you will never succeed, it just means your success is on another day, take a step each day and your day will get closer.

3. Be happy with your own work. Look back at everything you do and give yourself a pat on the back for completing it or if you haven’t finished it yet, congrats on starting it, it’s a step forward. We all know we work better when we are praised for our efforts so praise yourself if there’s no one to praise you. And when you look back you will see how far you’ve come.

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