I’m talking about comparing myself to “successful” people. People who have achieved things. Things that I want to achieve. They’re the kind of person I aspire to be like. Seemingly, they have it all: money, success, fame, happiness. But… do they?
If you’re comparing yourself to others, and you’re not getting a whole lot of satisfaction from it, read on:
I stopped focusing on me and started focusing on them. I thought I wanted what they had. But did I actually want it? Was I just letting jealousy blind me? No and yes. Because I was focusing on them, I started making poor decisions, or, perhaps worse, no decisions, because I just didn’t know what direction to go in.
There were a few times that I actually ended up laying in bed in the fetal position. I wish I was kidding. Solutions became problems. Everything was an obstacle. I couldn’t see a way forward. A few times, I was close to giving up.
They’re just so successful and rich and have everything they want… why wouldn’t I want to be them? They were already where I wanted to be. So far down their own path. I was jealous. But, did I even stop to think whether or not they were actually happy? Nope. And isn’t that what really matters? For me, absolutely.
Everyone’s different, but it’s a truth we all seem to forget from time to time. I certainly did. I know who I am, and I’m damn proud of it, so why am I trying to copy someone else? I’m not them. They’re not me. If you find yourself trying to copy someone else, have you even bothered to find out who you are?
“How did they do it? How have they achieved so much?” I would often wonder. It’s ok to respect achievement, but I was in danger of becoming so in awe of it that I’d think I could never achieve something like that. Not a fun place to be, and an extremely limiting one.
I wanted to speed everything up because I wanted everything they had RIGHT NOW. Deep down, I knew that wasn’t going to happen. The people I was comparing myself to had been working their ass off for years to get where they are and have what they have. Now, it was my turn.
This is an important one. I got so caught up in trying to achieve and make progress no matter what that nothing else even mattered. Not even being happy. I just totally forgot to be grateful for anything. Like the fact I was pursuing a dream. Like the fact that there’s people who would do anything to be in the position I’m in now. And, like the fact that, actually, I’m a happy person.
I was always thinking about the future. When will I “make it”? What will my life be like? This is, of course, very useful to think about from time to time. But I was rarely living in the moment, and it’s hard to be happy if you don’t (trust me. And, if you don’t trust me, trust the research!)
When I was comparing myself, I sometimes gave that control away because I’d look at them being so successful right now and I’d feel a bit hopeless. “How will I ever get there?” But then I (chose to) remember that this is my life and I’m the boss. I’m the man. I can make whatever choices I want, whenever I want. So I’ll keep choosing success.
A tempting way to think, perhaps, because it conveniently ignores all the hard work they put it and the fact that you could replicate that if you really wanted to. What an outrageous excuse. They’re successful because they’re lucky. Really? Do you think successful people blame luck for their success? Or do they blame themselves?
I let myself think that all these successful people were somehow blessed with an abundance of talent that allowed them to get where they are today. In actual fact, they just worked really damn hard and never stopped. There’s all sorts of evidence these days suggesting that natural talent barely matters. So what does? Practice. And a lot of it. Being a genius isn’t a requirement for success, and I wasn’t going to continue to use it as an excuse.
Of course I will. This is my dream. This is what I truly want. And, unlike a lot of people, I’m actually getting off my ass and working for it.
As Warren Buffett once said “You can produce a baby in 1 month by getting 9 women pregnant.” A fun experiment though, I reckon.
How did I know they were happy? I didn’t. How could I? I had to remind myself that being rich doesn’t make people happy. We all know that. But, them being successful (in my eyes) doesn’t necessarily make them happy, either. They might not even like their life. I would hope and think they do, but there’s no way of me knowing. They’re rich and successful on the surface, but what else did I really know about them? Nothing. So, being envious of them is pointless. This one was a good lesson for me.
Comparing yourself to others isn’t a problem unless it’s a problem. If, by comparing yourself to them, you become inspired and motivated and take action, awesome. If, however, you become demotivated, depressed, and unhappy, then that isn’t quite as awesome.
You are good enough and you damn well know it. Stop letting other people control how you feel and determine your worth. That’s up to you. Who are they to you? You don’t even know them. Do you think they’d be happy knowing that you’re comparing yourself to them and getting depressed? I doubt it. How would you feel if you were them?
This is your life. You’re the only one who has to live it. When you believe you’re good enough, when you know you deserve to have what you want, you’ll never compare yourself negatively to anyone ever again.
(If you don’t believe or know that, just read this: The 3 Things That Will Give You Stronger-Than-Iron-Man Self-Esteem.)
Featured photo credit: mgstanton via flickr.com
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