How to Get Out of the Comparison Trap
“His business has grown so fast, he is so lucky. How did he do that?”
“They always look so happy together.”
“She has the best abs, I can never get there.”
Have one or all of these comments crossed your mind lately? Chances are, yes. And if so, you are living in an unfortunate state of comparisonitis, i.e. the never-ending cycle of looking at your achievements (or lack of) next to someone else's. What does all this comparing do? Well, it leaves you unfulfilled, unhappy and unsatisfied. It can make you feel miserable about your life and exhausted from constantly trying to live up to an image or ideal that likely isn’t even real.
When it comes to building a business, comparing yourself to others is a quick path to becoming stuck and burnt out. It's natural to look to your competitors to understand their successes, failures and where they stand in the market, but don’t get carried away. There are more than enough opportunities for everyone. Worrying about what they have that you don’t does nothing to them. It will only hurt you.
The good news is, you can break free from this destructive cycle by taking small steps every day to grow and retrain your brain to view life through a different lens; to focus less on the bad and more on the good in your life. Here are four steps to help put a stop to comparisonitis and begin leading a life and career of true fulfillment.
1. Become aware of your triggers, especially social media.
Awareness is key to breaking the habit of comparing yourself to others. One of the biggest playgrounds for comparison is social media, which you're likely using as a distraction from focusing on the true trigger of your comparisonitis. Begin to notice whether you reach for your phone because you're feeling lonely or bored. Are you avoiding that tough conversation with a loved one? Social-media engagement can be your best friend when growing your business and connecting with your community, or it can become your worst enemy, leaving you to feel worse about yourself. It's all about how you use it.
Set up a time that is solely dedicated to being on social media while in a positive mindset. Avoid the random check-in when you’re waiting in line at a coffee shop or sitting in traffic. Before signing on, tell yourself, “I am going to find inspiration here." When you see those fitness models working out and successful entrepreneurs traveling the world, decide to view it as a source of motivation to keep you on your path, not derail you from it. Never forget, social media is a snapshot into someone's life. You are viewing one perfect moment captured in an imperfect day. There is a story and journey behind it all.
2. Stay in your zone of genius.
You can’t compare your day one to someone else's, and you can’t compare your weaknesses to someone's strengths. I wouldn’t want to measure my cooking abilities against a Michelin Star winner or my weightlifting skills against those of an Olympic athlete, and you shouldn’t either. Keep your focus on your very own zone of genius. Find the specific aspects of your business and experience that really make you shine, then focus on making those one percent better every day. We all have our own special gifts and natural talents. The key is to understand your own uniqueness and find support for, or delegate, the other parts.
If you aren’t sure of your zone of genius, ask yourself, “What work do I do that never feels like work?” Often times, what you're naturally best at is something that feels easy, so easy you don’t even realize it's a gift. Reach out to your close friends, family, and coworkers for feedback, because this information can be your biggest asset.
3. Take action, even if it isn’t perfect.
Comparisonitis can be a quick road to paralysis. Before you know it, hours have gone by where you sat snuggled up on the couch, looking at and thinking about how easy it is for everyone else. When you notice yourself falling into this pattern, get up and move. Movement shifts the energy around and within you, even changing your thought patterns.
Excellence in business doesn’t happen overnight. It requires a great deal of commitment, dedication and passion to reach the high standards you have probably placed on yourself. That's why it's all about the little actions that will one day allow you to look back and realize how far you've come.Related: What Strength Distinguishes an Entrepreneur From Others?
4. Take technology breaks.
Live fully in the moment, because that is where the most joy and gratitude is. Even though I engage with a beautiful online community, I love to spend days entirely offline where I can be completely connected with my husband, my close friends or my creativity in my business. Pick a day each month to turn off your phone and free yourself completely.
If you are thinking, “I can’t let my community down by not being present. I can’t walk away from business for a whole day," then consider how rejuvenated, focused and fresh you will be when you return to them. When you take care of yourself, you are better prepared to take care of others. On these days, I also love building a list of all the people and things I love in my life, and the qualities I love in myself. Try making a voice recording of your list and listening to it every day for the rest of the month.
Making comparisons is a natural, human tendency, and that is okay, but you can use these steps to help reduce your comparisonitis. And when it does pop back up, don’t judge yourself too harshly, because you are already amazing in your own unique and beautiful way. Bringing yourself back to that realization is what sets you up for success.