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4 Reasons Why You Should Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

4 Reasons Why You Should Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Comparing yourself to others is arguably one of the most damaging habits an individual can form. Deborah Fike of The Change Blog shares a story about comparing ourselves to others that will hopefully change your perspective:

A friend of mine, Karen*, is one of those people who seems to have it all.  She graduated at the top of her MBA class.  She holds a high level job at a prestigious Fortune 500 company.  She maintains a rigorous exercise regimen, a reminder of her collegiate rowing days.  She’s happily married and had a child about a year ago.  There’s not much in life that Karen doesn’t do well.

Except, she doesn’t feel that she’s doing well.  It’s not that Karen does not enjoy her life.  Quite the opposite: she loves all the elements of her life.  She struggles with work-life balance, something which I relate to being a new mother myself.  She recently read an article in a sports magazine about five women who have serious careers, are committed to their families, and are going semi-pro in their chosen athletic field.  Compared to them, she feels that she is “a big fat arse.”

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It’s very easy to compare ourselves to others in order to gauge our own lives.  Like Karen, I often find myself looking at how other parents juggle their careers, family commitments, and passions.  Then I get nervous that I’m doing something wrong.  It’s times like these that I have to force myself to stop the comparisons, for several good reasons:

If you often find yourself lacking, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Constantly judging your achievements against successful superstars often leads to low self-esteem.  In life, there is always going to be someone subjectively “doing better” than you, and if you judge yourself by those standards, you’re never going to feel good about yourself.  This can lead into a downward spiral of giving up on goals because you feel you can never measure up.

If you usually feel superior to others, you’re ignoring areas that you could improve on.

You might think that comparing yourself to people who are “beneath you” will help you achieve goals.  While it may help your self-esteem, people who belittle others often become too egotistical.  I’ve seen this played out again and again with start-up video game companies.  Whenever faced with genuine criticism of their games – whether that be from customers or developer peers – they lash out that people just “don’t understand the vision” of their game.  In the same breath, they don’t understand why their game doesn’t sell.  In order to improve in a skill, you have to be able to take critical feedback and turn it into something you can use to improve yourself.  This gets lost if you think you’re better than everyone else.

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Comparisons don’t take into account our differences.

Ultimately, comparisons generally don’t take into account the many differences individuals may encounter.  First, the successfu” person is often portrayed as an overnight sensation when, in fact, this almost never happens.  Successful people work hard, and their setbacks are rarely celebrated.  This makes the successful person appear lucky when they are not.  Second, there are no true one-to-one comparisons.  People will encounter different obstacles on their path to success, and you can’t truly judge your own worth by looking at someone leading a completely different life than your own.

The only real measurement of success is yours.

Ultimately, success isn’t about someone else’s life.  It’s about your life and your outlook about it.  For example, let’s say you are an aspiring children’s author, and your book gets picked up by a local press.  That, in turn, gets you more writing gigs and you eventually make a decent living in your region.  If you compared your body of work to Dr. Seuss in terms of profitability and fame, you would appear wanting.  But making any living out of writing children’s books is nothing to sneeze at.  Letting go of comparisons can help you define success for yourself.

If I were to compare myself to Karen, she would blow me out of the water in many ways.  Since the day we graduated together, she has gone on to have a more high profile career.  She always has and still does run circles around my modest exercise routine.  And she’s managed to do this while having a family.  But my life is not hers, and I would not want to compare myself to her.  We have found our own paths, each with its own merits.  I’m happy for her, and I hope by sharing this article, she can become a little happier about her life without all the comparisons.

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*Name changed to protect the identity of the person.

About The Author:

Deborah Fike is the Director of Educational Outreach for Spotkin, an educational games company that marries fun with learning.  She’s also the founder of Avalon Labs, which provides marketing consultations and writing services for start-ups and online businesses.   She carves out a significant portion of her time to raising her two younger daughters.

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4 Reasons to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others | The Change Blog

Featured photo credit: Girl Using her iPhone Outside via picjumbo.com

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Siobhan Harmer

Siobhan is a passionate writer sharing about motivation and happiness tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

There are so many lessons I wish I had learned while I was young enough to appreciate and apply them. The thing with wisdom, and often with life lessons in general, is that they’re learned in retrospect, long after we needed them. The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned.

Here’re 10 important life lessons you should learn early on:

1. Money Will Never Solve Your Real Problems

Money is a tool; a commodity that buys you necessities and some nice “wants,” but it is not the panacea to your problems.

There are a great many people who are living on very little, yet have wonderfully full and happy lives… and there are sadly a great many people are living on quite a lot, yet have terribly miserable lives.

Money can buy a nice home, a great car, fabulous shoes, even a bit of security and some creature comforts, but it cannot fix a broken relationship, or cure loneliness, and the “happiness” it brings is only fleeting and not the kind that really and truly matters. Happiness is not for sale. If you’re expecting the “stuff” you can buy to “make it better,” you will never be happy.

2. Pace Yourself

Often when we’re young, just beginning our adult journey we feel as though we have to do everything at once. We need to decide everything, plan out our lives, experience everything, get to the top, find true love, figure out our life’s purpose, and do it all at the same time.

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Slow down—don’t rush into things. Let your life unfold. Wait a bit to see where it takes you, and take time to weigh your options. Enjoy every bite of food, take time to look around you, let the other person finish their side of the conversation. Allow yourself time to think, to mull a bit.

Taking action is critical. Working towards your goals and making plans for the future is commendable and often very useful, but rushing full-speed ahead towards anything is a one-way ticket to burnout and a good way to miss your life as it passes you by.

3. You Can’t Please Everyone

“I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby.

You don’t need everyone to agree with you or even like you. It’s human nature to want to belong, to be liked, respected and valued, but not at the expense of your integrity and happiness. Other people cannot give you the validation you seek. That has to come from inside.

Speak up, stick to your guns, assert yourself when you need to, demand respect, stay true to your values.

4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset

Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. Good health is often wasted on the young before they have a chance to appreciate it for what it’s worth.

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We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to.

Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely preventable diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.

5. You Don’t Always Get What You Want

“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to… and that’s okay.

We have all of these expectations; predetermined visions of what our “ideal” life will look like, but all too often, that’s not the reality of the life we end up with. Sometimes our dreams fail and sometimes we just change our minds mid-course. Sometimes we have to flop to find the right course and sometimes we just have to try a few things before we find the right direction.

6. It’s Not All About You

You are not the epicenter of the universe. It’s very difficult to view the world from a perspective outside of your own, since we are always so focused on what’s happening in our own lives. What do I have to do today? What will this mean for me, for my career, for my life? What do I want?

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It’s normal to be intensely aware of everything that’s going on in your own life, but you need to pay as much attention to what’s happening around you, and how things affect other people in the world as you do to your own life. It helps to keep things in perspective.

7. There’s No Shame in Not Knowing

No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect. It just makes you neurotic to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.

We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainly, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally. We learn as we go, that’s life.

Besides—nobody likes a know-it-all. A little vulnerability makes you human and oh so much more relatable.

8. Love Is More Than a Feeling; It’s a Choice

That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible.

Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful.

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Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard. It is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.

9. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing

Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing.

The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go, and move on.

10. Don’t Take Anything for Granted

We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, the money you have or think you will have tomorrow.

When you’re young, it seems that your parents will always be there, but they won’t. You think you have plenty of time to get back in touch with your old friends or spend time with new ones, but you don’t. You have the money to spend, or you think you’ll have it next month, but you might not.

Nothing in your life is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love.

This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all: Life can change in an instant. Make sure you appreciate what you have, while you still have it.

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Featured photo credit: Ben Eaton via unsplash.com

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