Keep comparing yourself to others, you might learn something.

I know what you're thinking, another article about how you should stop comparing yourself and you should just be focused on your own life. I agree with that, but that's only half true for me. You've been comparing yourself your whole life as an athlete. You compared yourself to your teammates, you compared yourself to the other players when you would break down film, and you compared yourself to people that were better than you.

Since you just graduated you're probably starting to realize that life doesn't really start to hit you until a little bit after graduation almost a couple of years out. You got your degree in whatever you chose. Maybe you didn't choose your major, your coaches chose for you or you just chose something to stay eligible and now you're right in the thick of life and you're like "this is some bullshit!" This can't be what the rest of life is like.

Now you're comparing yourself to your peers in the workplace and in life the same way you did in athletics. This post is about why comparing is normal and how to do it in a healthy way to achieve results.

There's a saying that goes "comparison is the thief of all joy," but I want to add that comparison with the right mindset can be the greatest gift you ever give yourself. Comparison can either defeat you or fuel your fire. I want to show you two competing viewpoints.

This first one displays why having the wrong mindset when it comes to comparison can actually steal your joy and make you not want to do anything. Watch this...

 

The second Viewpoint is an article by the New York Times and it does a really good job of turning the conversation of comparison on its head and showing you the benefits and when it's advantageous to compare yourself. Here is a quote from the article.

Ms. Halvorson, who is also author of the book “Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals” (Hudson Street Press, 2010), said we needed to think about why we were seeking the information. “Upward comparison can be punishing and make you feel terrible,” she said. “But you can also look upward to learn.”
— http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/02/your-money/02shortcuts.html

Now it's up to you to decide how you're going to move forward. The key is figuring out what you're going to do with the information that you gather from comparing. 

Quick story, when I was starting out with the blog and wanting to do something for the athletic community, I thought there were so many other people doing the same thing and doing something similar to what I wanted to do. Instead of looking at them from a comparison standpoint and seeing what I can do differently I decided not to do anything at all. I saw the level of success or the "perceived level of success" that they were having and I didn't think that I could do it or even should do anything.

But I care so much about athletes' lives after sports and about helping them create professional AND personal fulfillment that I had to define what success looked like for myself and try anyway.

I had to stop using comparison from the negative standpoint and allowing it to defeat me before I ever got started. If there's a job that you want to have, a position that you want to apply for, a project that you want to create, a movement that you want to start, a ministry that you want to be a part of, a business that you want to build, or an invention that you want to create, and you're letting comparison stop you from doing it I encourage you to turn that thing on it's head and use comparison for the betterment of your endeavor. Don't wake up with regrets because you didn't do something that you wanted to do because you compared yourself out of it.

Here's an exercise for you, if you find yourself comparing and you start feeling envy rise up in you, try using The seven minute rule. The 7-minute rule can be used for any emotion but in this situation, if you're feeling envious or sad because you aren't in the place of the person you're comparing against, you have 7 minutes to feel what you're feeling and that's it. After 7 minutes you need to get your life and ask yourself these three questions.

  1. Do I feel this way because I want what they have OR because what they have (title, influence, love) is exposing a desire/fire that I've been neglecting?

  2. Is this an opportunity for me to get better at something or do something?

  3. What am I going to do with this information.

When you use the seven minute rule, it keeps you from making impulsive judgments and decisions. It forces you to take the time to reflect on why you actually feel that way and what you're going to do about it or not do about it.

Leave a comment below about a time when comparison stole your joy or caused you to not do something. Even though I read every comment, your comments aren't for me, they are for the people that read them and you are able to help because of your honesty.