How to stop comparing yourself to others and find success your way

Apr 8, 2021

Picture this.

You’re feeling on top of the world — fulfilled by your work and completely satisfied with where you are in life.

Then out of nowhere, it all comes crashing down.

Scrolling social media, you see another business owner talking about their 6-figure launch and new clients they’re attracting. Or a colleague gets promoted to the exact position you were aiming for.

All of a sudden, the positive feelings you had about yourself are gone. You start to lose confidence and belief in your abilities. And become overwhelmed by shame, lack and unworthiness.

What you’re experiencing is career ‘comparisonitis’. And you’re not alone. Comparison culture is on the rise — especially in a world of social media and ‘perfect’ Instagram feeds.

Comparison may be the thief of joy, but it also pulls you away from working on your dreams. You feel frustrated by your lack of progress — and end up even more unmotivated and unproductive.

Feel like everyone else is getting to where you want to be — and faster?

Read on to learn why you compare yourself to others and how it holds you back professionally. You’ll discover five tangible tips to help you break this unhealthy habit — once and for all!

WHAT IS COMPARISONITIS?

Comparisonitis is when you base your worth on how you measure up against others. It’s about judgement — of yourself and others. And feeling inadequate when it comes to professional success, status, wealth or influence.

Social comparison theory (or comparison syndrome) was first developed by psychologist, Leon Festinger. The idea is we assess ourselves through comparison to those we see as most like us. Others within our peer group, with similar professional backgrounds or life circumstances.

As human beings, we have a deep desire for acceptance and to fit in. But we also want to be, do or have the ‘best’ compared to those around us.

We compare ourselves to those we perceive as ‘better’. Then look for and judge their personal qualities within us. Or focus on the traits we need to improve to reach their level.

HOW TO CONQUER CAREER COMPARISONITIS

If comparing yourself to others is something you’re struggling with, here are my top tips to overcome it.

TIP #1 — ACKNOWLEDGE IT

Comparison is often subconscious so awareness is the first step to work through it. Become aware of it and acknowledge it. Get to the core of what you’re experiencing.

Ask yourself: What feelings is this bringing up? Where are they coming from? And what are they trying to tell me?

TIP #2 — LET OTHERS SHOW YOU WHAT YOU DESIRE

Jealousy and envy are signposts towards your deepest desires. If you feel lack or unworthiness towards someone doing or having something you see as ‘better’ than you, pay attention! They’re revealing to you what it is you want.

Through conditioning, we’ve come to believe success looks a certain way. Committing to one career path, working our way up to a level of influence and financial success. Having the perfect partnership, home and family.

But the truth is, you get to define your own version of success.

Instead of resenting those who have the success you crave, let them show you what’s possible. Look for mentors and surround yourself with people who have the success you desire. Especially if they come from a similar background, circumstances and are a few steps ahead of you.

If they can achieve it, you can too.

TIP #3 — PUT YOUR BLINDERS ON

Racehorses wear blinkers to keep them free from distractions and focused on what’s ahead. You can apply the same concept to combat comparisonitis. By keeping your eyes in your own lane — not on what others are doing, whether they’re behind or ahead.

If necessary, unfollow or distance yourself from people who make you feel inadequate. Disconnect from social media if you need to.

Staying in your own lane is about defining your own idea of success. You must know your values, vision and the goals you’re working towards. Plus, have clarity on your purpose to remain motivated and on track.

TIP #4 — GATHER EVIDENCE

To stop comparison, collect evidence of your unique strengths and accomplishments. Gather proof of positive feedback or results from clients, colleagues or your boss — client testimonials, emails, performance reviews. Keep it somewhere you can see it every day and review it any time you feel ashamed or unworthy.

Also, look at the bigger picture and stay focused on your greater vision and goals. Take the time to acknowledge your achievements so far. Celebrate your daily successes, including the small steps you take along the way.

TIP #5 — FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN GIVE

It’s natural to feel small when comparing yourself to others. You may want to shrink or hide your work from the world. Instead, take the focus off yourself and concentrate on being of service to others.

Finally, keep putting yourself out there. Remember, if you’re not sharing your unique gifts and ideas, you’re doing a disservice to those who need it most. Even if your words impact one person or help someone in the smallest way, isn’t it worth it?

Comparing yourself to others can rob you of your joy, confidence and belief in your abilities. These tips have helped my clients and I stop comparisonitis and create a career on our terms. I hope these strategies support you too!

Want support to manage your mind, build confidence and create a career on your terms? Book your free initial 30 minute consult HERE to get started!

Stacey Back is a Career Strategist, Leadership Coach + Founder of Profile Careers. She helps high-achieving corporate leaders and business owners at a mid-career crossroads find the work that lights them up, increase their income, impact and create a career + life on their terms.

Stacey also supports professionals to transition from their corporate job into their own consulting business. She works virtually with individuals based across the globe.