If you find yourself comparing yourself with your friend, co-worker, neighbor, or partner, you need to stop this minute. Comparing yourself with others is the easiest way to lose focus and distract yourself from your goals. As a human being, the best favor you can do yourself and the world at large is to be laser-focused on your personal goals and on your definition of what success with those goals means to you. What do I mean by this?
Focus on your art
Seth Godin often talks about how we should focus on figuring out what our art is and on sharing this art with the world. By its very nature, everyone’s art is distinct and unique. We can only develop our best art by looking deep into ourselves and sharing what makes us special with the world. To him, art is anything that is creative, passionate, and personal, and great art resonates with the viewer, not only with the creator.
It only makes sense that competing with others distracts from the distinctiveness that makes our art special. By comparing ourselves with others, we lose the magic that developing our core art affords the world. Competition with others in a sense makes us ordinary. It encourages imitation and, if we are not careful, makes us lose our essence. How boring.
Perhaps the best illustration of the magic that competing with oneself can bring to our art is Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs’ maniacal obsession with his art was apparent to all in the careful attention to detail observed in most Apple products. This was clearly born out of his internal vision, which would not have seen the light of day if he did not stay committed to tapping into his inner creativity. We owe it to the world to bring our originality and insights to the work that we do.
What is your art? Are you currently focused on making it the best possible version of your art that the world has ever seen? What are you doing to improve it and to make it delight and connect with your audience?
Here are three ways I keep myself focused whenever I find myself trying to compete with others:
1. Write down your goals
Writing down your goals is one of the easiest ways to keep in touch with your inner purpose and see where you’d like to be in a given time frame. Research has shown time and time again that writing down your goals dramatically increases your chances of achieving them. When writing your goals, it is important to write down the steps you have taken or plan to take to accomplish them. Also, make sure your goals are Specific, Measurable, Active, Realistic, and Timed (S.M.A.R.T) to increase your chances of success.
2. Track your progress
Next, track your progress. This would give you a sense about how far along you are in your journey towards improving your art. Getting a good sense of your progress, helps you determine areas in which you need to improve or work harder. It also reassures you that you are on track if you are meeting all your set targets for yourself.
3. Devise a plan for improvement
Now that you have reviewed your goals, devise a plan for improvement that can help you perfect your art. Since you have the best understanding of what the best expression of your art should look like, come up with action steps that can help you improve to the best of your ability and that can help you reach your definition of success.
These three steps have never failed me because they keep me focused on my inner compass and help me continually review and evaluate myself for improvement.
Have you tried any of these out? How have they helped you compete effectively with yourself?