One fun fact about the human condition is that we all compare ourselves to others on a near constant basis.
We pick out people on social media, in our friend group, and even strangers in public, who we think are better, smarter, and prettier than we are.
Maybe for you, the first time was that kid in kindergarten that had the jumbo-sized box of 64 Crayons that you really wanted.Or perhaps it’s your coworker, that has that undefinable quality that makes him a good leader and the ability to climb that corporate ladder. Or, even that couple on Instagram, traveling the world with their own business that they built from the ground up.
Undeniably, all of these people have at least one characteristic in common:
They persevered in the face of millions of people that are likely killin’ the game better than they are.
(Well, except maybe for the kid with the Crayons. He likely just had really cool parents.)
Unless you are Bill Gates, Chance the Rapper, or Oprah Winfrey, you are likely going to encounter people that are more successful, financially or otherwise, than you are in your chosen field. This is not a roadblock to your success by any means. These are just people that happened to find their path and follow it through to success.
Your goal is to find YOUR path
In the midst of all these “success stories” and articles about phenomenal people, there are people that a mass majority of people that are simply trying to make their own way. Find comfort in the fact that your story is unique to you, and that is something that sets you apart from the crowd.
It may be tempting to try to fall into the “status quo”. It may also be tempting to get so overwhelmed by the anomalies of major success that you are scared to even try to be different. The fact of the matter is, you already ARE different, and that is awesome! Now, you simply need to find your own path to the future you envision for yourself.
“Okay, that’s nice. But how do I do that?”
Master the practice of not comparing yourself to other people
Comparing yourself to others can often be a motivator to do better, but more often, it is a hindrance to us becoming who we are truly meant to be. By breaking this tendency, you free up space in your mind to focus on your own needs, talents, and wants.
Below we will highlight some simple steps you can take to break this habit (because it really is a bad habit), and start practicing the GOOD habit of not comparing yourself to others.
Step 1. Make a list of what you think will make YOU happy
This doesn’t have to be a well thought out, bulleted plan. Simply grab some scratch paper and write down the main things you want to achieve in your life. For example, mine looked like this:
- Be my own boss
- Make enough money to live off of
- Find a relationship that makes me happy
- Be able to travel whenever I want
- Be a better friend
Cheesy, right? But it really helps you get to the core of what you want, without worrying about all the little details (we will get to that later). No judgement, no BS, just a framework of the person you want to be in your life. Only YOU truly know what you want to achieve, so resist the urge to write down what you have been TOLD you need to achieve (by your family, society, whoever). Be honest with yourself, keep it simple, and write it down.
Once you have a pretty solid list, move on to Step 2.
Step 2. Make a list of all the Bullsh*t you get jealous about
This may sound counterintuitive, but it’s really not. The key to breaking a bad habit it recognizing it, and you NEED to call yourself out on your own BS. For transparency purposes (because we all have flaws), here is my list:
I get jealous of…
- People that have no acne
- Digital nomads
- People with big butts
- People who can run 5 miles without getting winded
- My sister
- Ruby Rose (famed hottie on the Netflix Original, ‘Orange is the New Black’)
I know you are laughing at me already, but I bet if I saw your list I would be laughing at you too. We can all just laugh at each other through our jealous tears and then go get an iced coffee.
Even more so than in Step 1, Step 2 is the chance to be brutally honest with yourself. No one has to see your list except for you. As silly or as serious your answers may be, they all mean something to YOU. If your list ends up being longer than expected, perhaps take a second to reflect on why that is. Does thinking about it maybe make you feel kind of shitty? Good- that means you are ready for Step 3.
Step 3. Compare the two lists
Look first at list #2.
Is it longer than list #1? A lot longer? As in, it could probably go on for eternity??
THAT is why it is a waste of time to worry about any of it. You could easily spend all your time on focusing on this list, compared to the much shorter list that you wrote in Step 1. Very quickly, your list of jealousies cancels out your list of things you want to achieve. Of course they aren’t mutually exclusive, but the time you spend on each of them is. That’s why you HAVE to let those jealousies go. That list is only going to get longer, meanwhile sucking up all that time your could be spending on what truly matters.
Once you are done sitting in this moment of self-pity (hopefully not to long) move on to Step 4. There is hope for you yet, I promise.
Step 4. Identify what fuels your jealous fire
Try to identify what mediums, people, or environments fuel your “jealous fire“. That is, notice where you tend to be when this jealousy strikes.
- Is it Instagram?
- Documentaries on Netflix?
- Attending motivational speaker conventions?
- Spending ALL your time with that one friend that you are always jealous of?
Reflect on these and try to find commonalities. Perhaps you notice that you spend too much time flipping through magazines feeling sorry for yourself. When you go to the gym, are you focusing on your workout, or comparing yourself to the people around you? Finding your “weak spot” is one of the key steps in identifying where your jealousies lie.
Of course, going to the gym or reading magazines are not inherently bad. But, if you recognize that you spending all this time on them and not feeling any better, then you probably have a problem. A problem with Time Management.
Step 5. Appropriate your time for other things
Now, disregard your list in #2. You don’t need it anymore. In fact, if you no longer spend time focusing on those things, you have so much more time to focus on list #1. Now is your chance.
Perhaps your issue is that you spend 30 minutes per day scrolling Instagram just to fuel that jealousy.
That is 30 minutes that you could be using to:
- write down your new business plan
- submit a job application
- write a love letter
- go for a run
- get coffee with a friend
By setting your priorities, and appropriating that time to doing something that matters, you are investing that time into yourself. 30 minutes per day adds up over time. At the end of one week, that is 3 and a half hours that you could be using to make steps in your career. It could also be the difference between finally going on that date, or rescheduling *yet again*.
Most often, poor time management isn’t really about “time” at all, but avoidant behavior. If you are intimidated by the success of others, you are likely holding back out of fear of not being “good enough”. Instead, you should see all time as a possible investment in yourself. “Success” or “Failure” are beside the point. What you need to focus on is how you are going to Pay Yourself First.
Step 6. Pay Yourself First
There is a phrase often used in finance and in life that goes “Pay yourself first”. The idea behind it is that you set money aside for your own savings before you worry about paying for bills and extras. Usually this takes the form of depositing, say, 15% of your paycheck into your savings account right off-the-bat. By paying yourself first, you are ensuring that you are keeping your financial goals at the forefront.
The same idea can be applied to time.
Like the previous step, set aside the time you would be spending on jealous practices to “spend” on pursuing your goals. Write that blog post FIRST. Call that networking contact FIRST. Go for a run FIRST. Call that cutie on the phone already!
Then, if you have time left over, you can spend it on other things that are left to do. Yes, even scrolling on Instagram or watching Netflix. Since you already made that investment in your future, you know that you have time to spare (or use on other responsibilities). Remember, this is simply time you would be spending on that jealousy BS. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Step 7. Practice & Repeat
The practice of not comparing yourself to others is truly that: a practice. You have to be dedicated to your goals, because no one else is going to do it for you. Practice and focus are really all it takes to get where you are trying to go. One step at a time and things will begin to fall into place.
I can assure you, those people that you look up to are paying themselves first. They are investing time in the things that matter, and it is paying off. Make that investment in yourself. You will be happy you did, because your dreams will begin to manifest over time. The minutes and hours of “work” will add up, and show itself in career achievements, relationships, self-confidence and more. Refer to the list in Step 1 to keep your end goals in sight, and each step will naturally unfold along the way.
Make it Happen for Yourself
Your ideal future won’t be achieved by making big leaps and bounds to try and get to “the top”.
First of all, there is no “Top”. Your journey is a path, and you are already on it. You are not going to get anywhere by following someone else’s footsteps.
And who’s to say that you won’t get there faster, if you only just invest a *little* more time in the things that matter? Stay dedicated to the practice of paying yourself first, and appropriating your time to the things that will help you achieve your goals. Adjust your mindset to focus on your own priorities and needs. Each investment brings you one step closer, and with that, a boost of confidence and a sense of achievement. Over time you won’t care what steps anyone else is taking.
You will already be paving your way, one unique, badass step at a time.
Do you struggle with comparing yourself to others? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!