January 6, 2014
If you’re like me, you might be looking ahead to the rest of the year, hoping to be successful.
And if you’re like me, you forget that “successful” is relative. Why does that matter? Because I’m not trying to achieve what he or she or them or you are trying to achieve.
I need to do my own thing.
I often feel like I’m drowning. I can’t seem to keep up, things fall through the cracks and my to-do list only seems to be lengthening, never mind getting done.
Being the introspective person I am, I’ve spent a fair amount of energy reflecting on this can’t-catch-my-breath feeling.
My conclusion? I have absolutely mastered a skill I wish I never knew in the first place: comparing myself to others.
Comparing myself to others is killing me. Here’s why.
1. It kills my perspective
What we see online is largely not real. Now, I’m not suggesting people we encounter online are all fake. What I am saying, though, is that it’s hard to get a complete picture of someone online. We show what we want and hide what we don’t want others to see. It’s why Facebook makes people sad.
Consequently, when I start comparing myself to others, 9 times out of 10, I fall short. Hopelessly short. (I wish I could write like so-and-so, or, I wish I had that kind of traffic or those opportunities or that _______.)
I do believe there is such a thing as healthy competition. But you’ll know competition is healthy when you feel empowered, invigorated and excited to try something new. You know it’s unhealthy when you feel resentful, bitter, envious or like a failure.
2. It kills my purpose
There is not a single person on this earth like me. And there’s not a single person on this earth like you.
I often catch myself trying to emulate what I see others do, or, not trying something because I haven’t seen anyone try it in the past.
I’ve also had to review what I’m trying to do with my work in the first place. What really is my purpose here?
I started out with the idea I would supplement our income so I could preserve my freedom to stay home with my kids and pour into them. Somewhere along the line though, it seems that got flipped around. Many days, as I’m shushing them and telling them to “hold on a minute,” I realize it looks a whole lot more like my work is my focus and my children are secondary.
3. It kills my productivity
I can’t tell you the hours of my life I’ve wasted trying to “keep up” with others in the world. Whether it’s posting, tweeting, Facebooking, networking, commenting, building traffic, etc., there always seems to be more I should be doing to “stay ahead of the curve.”
If one thing’s true, it’s that the internet can be a gigantic time suck. Keeping up with The Joneses among the dozen or so families in your neighborhood is one thing. Keeping up with the hundreds of thousands of people online is something different entirely. It’s no wonder I have no time left to actually accomplish anything when I falsely convince myself I’ve got to keep tabs on them all.
4. It kills my posts
I dislike writing. Many people are surprised to learn that, but it’s completely true. To me, publishing one post is quite an agonizing process. I’m much more of a math girl. I like to have the formula, plug it in, get an answer, done. Writing is too subjective, too variable, too nebulous. I never know when it’s done.
So, as difficult as posting is to begin with, you can imagine what it’s like when I throw in a good dose of “I wish I was like them” into the mix. Near torture.
So, how to beat the comparison trap?
I wrote some thoughts about that here.