the only useful type of comparison

who do you compare yourself to?  friends?  decades-older celebrities?  or worse, younger ones? 

there are few unequivocal truths in life, but here’s one:

the only person you should compare yourself to…is you.

anticlimactic, i know.  but the most effective way of sidestepping inferiority is comparing your present to your past.  nothing, and no one, else.

thinking only about earlier versions of yourself keeps your attention focused on your ambitions and the only person entirely under your control.  

instead of falling into the black hole of “why do they have all the success?” answer the following:

  • what you were up to a year ago? 
  • are your goals the same? 
  • are you closer to reaching them? 
  • what’s in the way of doing so?

this self-comparison-only method also works for insecurities.  recently i’ve been asked polite variations of “what do you do all day?”  since those people are probably reading, please know i’m not offended. it’s a legitimate question i often ask myself. 

i know i’ve come a long way.  i know i’m achieving my goals.  i know i’m progressing steadily.  because i go to the trouble of thinking back to last year and recognize all the improvements. 

still, the question triggers my insecurity.  suddenly i’m judging myself and deciding i only write crap.  additionally, i suspect their question wouldn’t bother me if i were sure how i spend my day.  so i went deeper and decided on some changes as a result:

  • i will push myself to keep writing when i want to take a break
  • to avoid online distractions i’ll only write longhand until i have a draft of a post
  • i’m going to read more, and more broadly

how do you feel about only comparing yourself to earlier versions of you?