Do you want to be happier?
Stop comparing yourself to others!
Stop benchmarking yourself! Stop comparing your child to others, your income, or anything else. Benchmarking is bullshit!
In your comparison, you only see appearances and partial data that do not tell the full story.
Are you keeping up with the Joneses?
You noticed that your neighbor got a new car.
Your colleague got a pay rise.
Your friend travels around the world all the time.
These are the things we see and compare ourselves against. We don’t see the price people are paying for the things we see. Your neighbor has maxed out all her credit cards; your colleague works for 70 or more hours every week, not seeing his friends or family. Your friend is burning money with no clue what will happen when the money runs out.
The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel. ~ Steve Furtick
There’s a story about Isaac Newton that he was either gay, dominated by his mother, or had difficulties forming emotional relationships. He never married, he wrecked many of his close relationships, and some say he died a virgin.
When he was asked about what was the highlight of his life, Newton answered:
I consider my greatest accomplishment to be lifelong celibacy. ~ Isaac Newton
Isaac Newton’s accomplishment may seem strange to most people. We think coming up with the laws of motion and universal gravitation that dominated scientists’ view of the physical universe for the next three centuries is really hard. But for Newton himself it was easy as a child’s play:
I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me. ~ Isaac Newton
And as you can see, Newton also had a really cool coat of arms.
Try not to get lost in comparing yourself to others. Discover your gifts and let them shine! ~ Jennie Finch
What you see is only part of the story
Measuring other people’s results is one of the most futile activities you can waste your time on.
You will only see some aspects of what they achieve or have, and you will assume what their actual goals are. If you use what you see as a benchmark for your own goals then based on this partial data, you may achieve the results, but the cost may be overwhelming.
The different initial conditions mean that you probably need to take different actions to achieve the same goal. Even if the steps needed are the same there may be something that doesn’t fit into your life without some adverse effects.
Set your own goals based on the resources you have available and ignore what others may be thinking.
For example, I had a website that ranked number 2 in Google for the search term “social media” just below Wikipedia entry. I impressed many of my marketing colleagues. And it worked in bringing in more than 70 thousand visitors every month.
And the result?
A large part of the visitors coming in from that search result were not my target audience and did not convert to paying customers. It looked awesome, but there were no real results. So, anybody who would try to replicate that result would waste their time and resources.
Why do people compare themselves to others?
Most people compare themselves to others. Some more, others less, but we all do it from time to time.
We want to see if we are worthy.
You can compare up or down.
Comparing up means comparing yourself with people who have something that you want. Maybe they are rich, famous, and have the results you want to have.
There’s nothing wrong with measuring your progress against a role model. Learn from what they have done right and notice the mistakes you have to avoid.
Keep in mind that comparison itself is useless. I am here and they are there, gives you no value. Evaluate your progress. I am here, yesterday I was there. If I keep this up, then I can get where they are in two years.
Setting your comparison up as a milestone and following your progress is a great way to improve yourself.
Comparing yourself to a set standard can give you motivation.
We want to feel good about ourselves.
You can feel great about the situation you have and give yourself credit for the things you have done. Comparing down may not be that useful. The fact you are better than someone else may lead to complacency.
When you see yourself as better than others you may stop putting in the effort you need to keep going. You will have a false sense of security. When something happens, then you are less likely to be ready to react to changing circumstances.
Have more than you show, and speak less than you know. ~ William Shakespeare
How do I stop comparing myself to others?
First, don’t compare yourself to a public figure you don’t know personally. Warren Buffett is a brilliant investor, but you should set your goal a bit lower in the beginning. For example, I want to double my income is a good stretch goal for most people.
Now, with that out of the way, most of us compare ourselves to a friend or a colleague who is more successful. You see them and maybe you are envious.
To get out of the envy mindset, think about how you could have what they have.
If you emulate what they did to get to that result, then you can repeat that. If you ask, they may even help you to achieve your goal.
And then there are the circumstances you do not control.
I’m 5 feet 10 inches.
Sad, I know.
I would want to be 6’3’’.
There’s absolutely nothing I can do about it.
The sooner you stop worrying about the things you can’t control, the faster you improve your overall well-being. It may be hard but do it, anyway.
- Ignore the things you can’t change.
- Find out “how” for the rest.
Is comparing yourself to others bad?
It is if you just compare and feel bad about it.
We tend to compare ourselves to those who have better circumstances than we do.
If you just feel bad about it, then it’s harmful, as it reduces your well-being.
But it’s OK if you take it as challenge.
How did they get there?
What do I have to do to get similar results?
As I pointed out comparing attributes you can’t change is nor useful in any situation. Avoid all the taller, thinner, more beautiful comparisons.
How do you stop comparing yourself to others on social media?
First, go on a (social) media diet.
Don’t use it for a day, week, or a month if you can. Make it a 30-day challenge.
What most people post on social media are the peaks of their lives. The specks of gold they find in the everyday river of sXXX.
Think about it this way.
If you would compare your day to day experiences with the 12 most exciting things that ever happened to you your life would seem drab.
Now, let’s calculate.
Let’s say you have 350 Facebook friends and every single one of them has two exciting things happen to them in a year. This activity would lead to approximately 2 awesome and envy-inducing posts in your newsfeed every day.
Be happy for them!
You will also have your two things this year.
The only person you should try to be better than is who you were yesterday. ~ Anonymous
Get to the roots
When you avoid comparing yourself to others, it does not mean you should totally ignore what they are doing.
Try to understand what works and get a complete understanding of tools and tactics.
Find out the starting conditions, what are the steps to take, and what are the expected results.
Use tools and tactics you understand and demonstrably move you towards your goals.
Collect specific tools and make sure you know in which situations to use them.
Ask for help from people who have been in similar situations and use the parts that fit you, discard everything else.
You can compare how you do something to how the best people in that area are doing it. You don’t have to catch up with them, you can’t be the best in the world in everything. Learn, improve yourself, and compare yourself to the past self.
Your goals, your pace
Concentrate on your own goals. Don’t try to imitate something you don’t understand simply because it seems that it leads to results you want to achieve.
For example, if you want to lose weight don’t pay attention to the guy next door who has lost 40 pounds in a few months and seems to run every day. You need to consider all aspects of weight loss to get to the shape that you are happy with. You will also need to understand the routine you have to develop to keep the weight off in the future.
If you just try to imitate someone without understanding the full range of tools involved, then you will eventually fail and feel bad about yourself. This means that being in “benchmarking mode” will also lead to you beating yourself up for not getting the results you see in people you are comparing yourself against, and that will lead to more unhappiness.
Stop comparing yourself to others!
Don’t compare yourself to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about. ~ Regina Brett
The Futility of Comparing Yourself to Others
When I was writing this post a few weeks ago, then I noticed that another guy just published a post about the exact same topic in a blog that is probably the most read in this field. Leo Babauta from Zenhabits wrote The Futility of Comparing Yourself to Others. I have to say that it shook me up a bit and I as I had a vacation coming up I left the post unfinished. But then I took Leo’s (and my own) advice:
And that’s the only thing we should focus on in life — enjoy the walk, learn about ourselves, keep taking steps and drop the comparisons. You’ll love the journey even more. ~ Leo Babauta
Increase your happiness
Pick your own path. Pick the pace you are comfortable with and ignore the rest. Always keep your eyes open to find better tools. Ask help from people who seem to have similar goals. Get the tools that match your goals and learn how to get the maximum value out of them.
Find out what works for you and makes you happy.
Then do that until you get where you want to be.