Stop Comparing - Swim in your Own Lane

April 13, 2018

Close your eyes and think of the last time you compared yourself to someone else, you felt slightly intimated by what they said, the way they said it, how they looked, an email coming through trumpeting a piece of good news or achievement.

I’m on hols this week on a Caribbean island. It is the most relaxed I think I have ever been in my adult life.

But already today I’ve watched a girl who looked more carefree than I did at the pool, someone’s skin that was going a prettier colour than mine, a couple who looked REALLY in love at the water sports hut.

Why is it despite everything we’ve achieved in your life we still feel inadequate. There can only be one reason for this, we are comparing ourselves to others. 


Comparison and Career Comebacks Don't Go Together


When I was looking for work after a break, in my mind everyone was professionally fulfilled except me. Everyone was doing what they wanted, being paid what they wanted, had the perfect work-life balance and had a thriving network jam-packed with associates ready to spur them on, mentor them and recommend them.

This negated anything I achieved and my own personal brand. It was not reality. It was however, what was stopping me from having the confidence to show up to opportunities and network effectively. Most importantly it stopped me being contented with where I was, at that moment.

If you want to break the cycle of feeling unaccomplished and unfulfilled, it's time to start focusing on what matters: you. It might be you’ve been focusing your energy on someone else’s swimming lane. 

Some navigate the world — and relationships — searching for any bit of evidence to validate their self-limiting beliefs. Much like judge and jury, they constantly put themselves on trial and sometimes sentence themselves to a lifetime of self-criticism.

When you compare, on a fundamental level, you are telling yourself that everyone else is content, and you are not. You need to  embrace your own unique story, and content. You could go further if you focused on your own unique gifts, rather than getting stuck on what others do better than you


It’s Time to Stop Comparing and Start Doing


You got where you are today on your own merit and not on someone else’s Facebook feed or snazzy Linkedin profile.
I have learned that I can’t be available for unique opportunities that fall in my path when I am busy trying to be someone else.

When I stopped looking at what other people had and stopped worrying about where they were in their careers, I saw my potential and my success happened.

We get into internal vs exteral validation. External validation comes from others’ approval. Internal validation comes from our acceptance of self, our acceptance of all parts of ourselves good and bad. This article describes how we can start to validate ourselves to stop the endless race with someone else’s shadow or swimming lane.


This graphic is something you can save and use as a representation of the move forward, from seeking approval from others (external validation) to deriving your worth through self validation. The way to arrive at self, or internal validation, is via those areas that are outlined. 



It is so much more relaxing to Stay in Your Own Lane



By all means read someone else’s  Facebook/Instagram feed and cheer them on. There is enough for everybody. At the school gate, someone gave me some brilliant advice. “Wear your fluffy slippers”. What she meant was, turn up as yourself. When I was setting up this website, I was immediately intimidated by one particular mum blog that was all singing, all dancing. Until someone googled the blog archives and show me how this blog started, FIVE YEARS EARLIER.

Don’t play the game of external validation. It will be very unhelpful once you are back at work and looking for approval from others. 
Use other people’s achievements to inspire you by all means, and be grateful they’ve given you something to aspire to. Then get back in your own training lane and go for it.
Related: Don't Be A Short Poppy
Wear Your Fluffy Slippers for Work Success


Lead image: Getty Paul Bradbury


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