How do you compare? [TPP#48]

Comparing yourself to others is a tricky business. It's natural to measure our progress against the people we aspire to be like, and yet, this very action can harm our productivity and self-esteem.

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Everyone's situation is different

First of all, everyone's situation is different. When we compare ourselves to others we forget that the conditions they're operating in are different to our own. The money they have, their personal contacts, their available time and other resources are all different.

Overnight success is a fallacy. We never see the years of hard work and failures that lead to successClick To Tweet

We often compare ourselves to people who are ahead of us and who have things we want. But we also tend to forget that these people, who not only started on their journey before us, began in a completely different environment to the one we're operating in now.

Apples and oranges…

Let me give you an example:

As someone who's building an online business selling digital products, I compare myself to people like Pat Flynn. This is ridiculous! First of all, Pat started his online business a long time before me. He operates in a different niche, he has a team of people helping him and he works on his business full-time instead of as a side-business.

Why would I compare myself to someone like this? Yes, he has things I want and his achievements are admirable. Pat's progress is an inspiration to many people (including me). But when I think about what Pat's done and what he has compared to me, I focus on the fact that I have less than him. As Tony Robbins mentioned in a recent interview, the feeling of having less is a pre-cursor to finding yourself in a suffering state. This isn't good for your self-esteem or motivation.

Years to overnight success

Another thing we tend to forget is that these people's accomplishments often take years to come to fruition. Reaching their level is often just a matter of hard work and patience.

Overnight successes are rarely what they seem. We never see the years of hard work and multiple failures that lead to people's achievements.

You are your best measure of success

If you want to compare yourself to someone, compare yourself to how you felt yesterday, last week and last year.

How you feel and perform is all that matters. The only comparison you make should be to how much you've grown and learned through your experiences.

  • Are you happier?
  • Have you made progress?
  • Are you growing?
  • What have you learned?
  • How far have you come?
  • Who have you helped?
  • What problems have you solved?

Just the other day I was filling out my monthly income/expenses spreadsheet and realised that in August I earned more from this website and my consulting than I did at my full-time job. This is an amazing achievement and is something that’s taken almost two years to achieve. I’m no Pat Flynn, but I am really pleased with how far I’ve come and the impact I’ve made.

You're further along than you think

It's also easy to forget that there are probably people who look at you and wish they have what you have. Appreciate what you have right now because you're probably further along than you think.

As you've been working away chasing what other people have, you've probably lost sight of how far you've come.

Stop and look back at your footsteps and you'll probably see them stretching back quite a long way…