Stop Comparing Yourself to Others!

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Stop Comparing Yourself to Others!

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Do you want to be happier?

Stop comparing yourself to others!

Stop benchmarking yourself, your children, your income or whatever against others. Benchmarking is bullshit! It is based on partial data and external cues that do not tell the complete 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 that 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 without any clue what will happen when the money runs out.

comparing quotes Furtick

The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel. ~ Steve Furtick

Different perspective

Coat-of-arms-of-Sir-Isaac-NewtonThere’s a story about Isaac Newton that he was either gay, dominated by his mother, or had difficulties with 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 that 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 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.

comparing quotes Finch

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.

Read next:  How to Give Yourself Credit [and Why It Matters]

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. Many of my marketing colleagues were impressed. And it worked in bringing in more than 70 thousand visitors every month.

And the result?

Mostly nothing!

benchmarking social media

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.

Get to the roots

This does not mean that you should totally ignore what others are doing. Try to understand what works and get a complete understanding of tools and tactics. Find out what are 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.

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 be running 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.

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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!

comparing quotes Brett

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.


Image credit Coat of arms of Sir Isaac Newton by Avalokitesvara
Image credit Measuring time by Louise Docker
Cover Image Priit Kallas

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Priit Kallas

Founder of I created FixWillpower to help you reach your goals. I have struggled my entire life to be consistent and avoid procrastination. The goal is to have a good life, do the things you love and get your results with minimum effort. FixWillpower website is about how I create motivation and productivity in my life. I write about the tools and techniques, best books, scientific research, and everything else that helps you move faster and stay on track. Minimum effort doesn’t mean slacking off. Minimum effort is about effectiveness and productivity. If there is a way to reach a goal in a shorter time or with less exertion, then you should use that. I will help you be smarter and reach goals faster. About FixWillpower

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