The Danger of Comparing Yourself To Others 

One thing that can drastically hinder your success in business is comparing yourself to others. It drains your time, zaps your energy, decreases productivity, and leads to lack of focus in your business.

Have you ever compared yourself to others? Compared your business success to someone else?

There is scientific proof we do this either consciously or subconsciously. There is actually a name for it and it’s called ‘social comparison’. It’s defined as having feelings of dislike and competitiveness with someone that seems to have more success, have a bigger house, take better vacations, be in better physical health, smarter, or just generally better than yourself.

Social Psycholgist Leon Festinger did extensive research on the topic and wrote about it in a report in 1954 – “A Theory of Social Comparison Processes”. You can find it online if you are interested in reading the report. He discovered human beings cannot define themselves individually. So they define themselves in relation to something (or someone) else.

He found we have a fundamental need to evaluate ourselves. So, while you are comparing yourself to others, they are probably comparing themselves to you. What a waste of energy! But, unfortunately, it’s just human nature. Everyone does it at some level.

What are the dangers of comparing yourself to others?

Comparing yourself to others uses up valuable energy that could be better used to build your business and live a better life.

Here is a short list of how comparing yourself to others can impact your life. It can cause jealousy, resentment, anger, and depression. You may experience a lack of motivation because you to feel bad about how you are doing and get discouraged. You may take your eyes off your goals because you are focused on someone else and what they’re doing.

You usually end up resenting other people who are doing well. Then you end up criticizing these same people you probably don’t know and know nothing about.

It basically puts someone else in control of your life. You need to be the only one in control of your life knowing the only life you can control is your own.  Focusing on what someone else has or does just leads to unhappiness about what we have accomplished, what we are doing with our lives, the success (or lack of) in our business, the house we live in, or the car we drive. You get the picture.

It also contributes to lost productivity in your business…which means lost income.

Why do we compare ourselves to others?

Most of the time when you compare ourselves to others, you are either looking for validation for where you are in life. If you are looking for validation from other people, you will not have a fulfilled life or a thriving business. Also this type comparison can lead to envy and jealousy. This takes away your energy and focus from the things you should be doing.

One the other hand, you may just be a competitive person. You compare yourself to others, but it’s more from having a competitive nature. Maybe there is another business in your niche that is doing really well. They are where you want to be.

So you start researching the company to see what they are doing right to find some things you can do differently in your business. It’s healthy to have a little competiveness when you can look at someone else’s life and be inspired to do more.  And it can be motivation for you to focus on what actually matters.

How To Stop Comparing Yourself To Others

Accept where you are…bad decisions, flaws and all. This doesn’t mean you stop trying and stop moving forward. You take what you have right now and go forward with whatever you have with no concern for what anyone else is doing.

When you sense you are starting to compare yourself to others, stop, understand what is happening and refocus. With time this will become a habit.

Know what YOU really want. Not what your friends and family want, but what YOU want. And I’m not saying do this in a selfish way. Just start implementing a plan to go forward to get what you want and make it happen. When you are in pursuit of what you really want and what you are truly passionate about, it decreases the chances of you comparing yourself to and being impacted by other people.

Know that what you see on the ‘outside’ in others is more than likely not reality. With the advent of social media, online video, and other means of keeping track of what other people are (supposedly) accomplishing and the life they are (supposedly) living, we tend to only see the good side of their lives. Don’t envy other people’s lives because most of the time, it’s not what it seems.

Remember where you started and how far you’ve come. You’ve travelled and lived your own unique journey. You are where you are as a result of the decisions you made at the time. And they could have been the only decision you had at the time. Life happens and sometimes we have to do things and make decisions that alter the course of our lives. Everybody has their own set of challenges, some more than others, but more than likely you have overcome many obstacles both psychological and physical. Remember your strengths and how you earned that strength. Focus on the journey forward.

Br grateful for what you have and where you are. There is nothing that will improve your life and stop the urge to compare yourself to other people more than waking up every morning and being thankful for what you have. Also, be thankful for the setbacks and disappointments. They made you who you are today. Setbacks are the best opportunities for learning and growth.

Understand that it’s probably not a fair comparison. I see this a lot in my world. Someone looks at the internet marketing guru. They look at their latest product launch and see the “guru”made $300K in a month. What they don’t see is the ten years of 60 hour weeks, the file server crashing on their last launch, the zero dollars they made during their first two launches, and all the other failures. Don’t believe the hype. There is always more to the story.

Be aware when you fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others. It’s important to learn how to refocus when you feel the urge coming on. And understand it’s just human nature to do this. If may be a conscious decision or a subconscious decision. It can be healthy to compare yourself to others. It’s great to have something to shoot for in your business and in your life.

But be realistic in your comparisons. Know the whole story of how and why a business is experiencing great success. Most business success did not happen overnight.

When comparing yourself to others, don’t get discouraged. Instead get energized knowing if they did it, you can do it. But it will take time, patience, and persistence to get it done.

All the best,

Mike Coleman