4 Tips to Help You Stay Focused on You Instead of How You Compare to Everyone Else
We’ve all heard that comparison is the thief of joy. The more we compare ourselves to others, the less satisfied we are with ourselves, both personally and professionally.
More likely than not, you envy someone nearby. Maybe he or she has an innovative solution to every problem, or the person receives the highest praise from clients, or he or she is organized enough to respond to every email in minutes and keeps his or her desk Pinterest-perfect at all times. Whatever that person’s advantage is, you feel like you’re in competition with him or her, even if the person doesn’t know it.
We need other people in our lives to show us what’s possible and keep us grounded, but when the only successes we’re concerned with belong to the person next to us, we may as well be a runner looking over a shoulder during a race.
If we want to be successful at work and in life, we must pay attention to what we are doing, not what everyone else is doing. Here are a few tips that might be useful.
- Understand that difference can be a strength. You may envy the person dominating the brainstorm sessions with quick wit and a propensity to shout out answers with no fear, but if you receive praise for your well thought-out plans and ability to sum up a conversation in a sentence, your envy is likely misplaced. We should all be challenged to improve weaknesses, but if you’re interpreting your strength as a weakness because it doesn’t mirror the strength of another person, you won’t forge your own path. You’ll fail trying to walk someone else’s. In order to see that your strengths set you apart, take time away from social media and any distractions that are centered around other people. Make a list of your achievements, no matter how small, and identify the qualities that led you to your successes. Keep a list of those qualities in an easy-to-spot place as a daily reminder of the individual path you walk.
- Understand that you are equal to others. At the risk of stating the obvious, we are all human. Even if everything a person touches seems to turn to gold, that person may be failing in areas that you either have not noticed or cannot see. No one is successful at everything at all times, and you will succeed and fail as many times as the person next to you, your bosses, and the people on TV. This is not to say that you should rejoice in the failure of others. In contrast, challenge yourself to notice and praise the best qualities of the people around you without comparing them to your own faults. When you make a habit of acknowledging greatness as you see it, you tune your brain to notice it in your own life and work as well. Additionally, giving praise where it is due demonstrates your ability to see beyond yourself, strengthening your influence as a leader.
- Understand the person you have been. To know where you’re going and how to get there, start with where you’ve been. Maybe you want to run your own business because your family was always working too hard for someone else, but you’re afraid of taking financial risks because you remember what it was like to be trapped in debt. Our histories are simultaneously able to motivate us and hold us back. Dwelling on the past isn’t productive, but knowing the ways that the past affects you will help you navigate your future decisions. When you’re struggling with a big decision, take a step back and consider which habits have led you to achieve success in the past and which ones have caused you to fail. Use new decisions as opportunities to challenge your weaknesses and show off your strengths.
- Understand the person you would like to be. If you don’t have any idea what you want from the future, you’re not alone. Many of us hesitate to make plans when the future is inherently uncertain, and it seems laughable to assume that any of us has any idea where we’ll end up. That being said, people thrive on purpose. Having an idea of where you want to go drives you to work harder, create more meaningful relationships, and overcome fears to try new things. Even if you end up in a life you couldn’t have imagined, it will be your efforts that got you there. Spend time yearly or quarterly thinking about what you want your life to look like in the future, and choose a representation of that goal to keep in an easy-to-spot place. It could be picture of a house you’d like your future self to live in or a word that encapsulates how you’d like to be described by others. When you’re tempted to do less than your best, your reminder will encourage you to take every small step to get where you want to go.
It’s equally important to push yourself and give yourself a break at times. By embracing your strengths and challenging yourself to get back up from failures, you’ll see your confidence and graciousness grow.6