We compare ourselves to other people for a variety of reasons. One of the ways you can stop comparing yourself is by looking at the real reason that’s causing the comparison.
Let me give you an example from my own experience.
I was on LinkedIn a while back when I came across the profile of a lawyer who I used to work with when I was younger.
He’s done incredibly well in his career. He’s now a partner in a Park Avenue law firm in New York.
After reading his profile, my first thought was – what the hell have I been doing with my career?
For a brief moment, I felt like a failure.
To be honest, I was a bit taken aback by my reaction.
I’ve done a lot of work over the years on how to stop comparing myself to other people.
I’m proud to say that I have gone from a person who compared herself constantly (and felt insecure and miserable because of it) to someone who rarely compares herself at all. (And just in case you were wondering, it’s not because I am living a “perfect life” now and things are better than they were before – far from it actually).
It’s because I have worked hard to know my own worth and love and accept myself. I’ve learned to not compare myself, my choices, and my life to other people.
As you can imagine this feeling of insecurity didn’t sit well with me, so I started doing what I have learned to do when it comes to comparison.
I dug deeper.
I was determined to find out where this source of comparison was really coming from.
I assume that my lawyer friend is making a lot of money and congrats to him for that!
It’s important to point out that my assumption could be wrong or not the whole picture, he could be making a lot of money but could also have a ton of debt.
Either way, I know it’s not just about the money for me.
I’m also sure that he would have had to make sacrifices to get to partner level. I’m sure there is a lot of responsibility and stress involved. You don’t usually get to that level without putting in the hours. Senior-level positions in any industry often involve time spent away from family and friends, weekend work, and perhaps long periods of time without taking a vacation.
I’m definitely not opposed to hard work and long hours. I’ve been doing a few of those myself for my own business. I’m more than happy to do the work for something that I’m passionate about (which in my case is working for myself).
I mentioned that we worked together when I was younger. I worked for a legal firm years ago as a junior legal secretary. I absolutely hated it. The pay was terrible, the company culture was awful and we were drastically understaffed and had to work extra hours just to keep up with the basics.
I think from memory, I was the eighth person in that role in a year. Did I mention I also worked in the Family Law department? Nasty divorces, cringeworthy child custody agreements, and serious accusations of wrongdoing. Horrid.
I had such a bad experience, I have steadfastly refused to work in the legal industry ever since, so why was I suddenly comparing myself unfavorably to a lawyer?
The truth is I would hate his job, so why should I compare myself to his success?
Come to think of it, I have no idea if he even likes his job. Just because someone is good at something, doesn’t mean they love it. It doesn’t even mean they enjoy it!
When you are looking at LinkedIn and thinking someone else’s career is so much better than yours, keep in mind it might only look good on paper.
Just because someone has achieved a certain level of success in their industry doesn’t mean they haven’t had to put up with horrid bosses, dysfunctional workplaces, ineffective policies and procedures, and micro-managers with control issues.
I’m not saying this to be negative or pessimistic, after all, there is a lot about work that we love but before we paint perfect workplace pictures to compare ourselves to, we need to put things in perspective.
After working out it wasn’t the money or his industry, I was determined to find out what triggered the comparison. It’s interesting to realize that sometimes we aren’t aware of exactly why we are comparing or more to the point what we are coveting.
It took me a while to uncover why I was really comparing myself.
He lives in New York City.
When it all came down to it, it was about where he lived not his career or his title that I envied – it was the fact that he lives in my favorite city.
The truth is if he lived in Los Angeles I would have skimmed over his profile and not even had a second thought about it because I have no desire to live in LA (no offense to any LA residents intended).
If you are comparing yourself, make sure you know exactly why you are comparing!
It could be a completely different reason to what you think, which means you might be able to take action and kick comparison to the curb. While I can’t pack up and move to New York (I think immigration might have something to say about that) I could, if I chose to, plan another amazing trip to the city which would crush my comparison.
There are so many reasons you shouldn’t compare your career to someone else’s.
Our careers (and our lives for that matter) are all about choices.
You may choose to downgrade your career for a happier/different/better life (pick whatever word works best for you). You might choose fewer hours, more time with family, or time for travel.
You might go back to study, change careers several times, take time off to have children, or accept a lower-paying job because you are passionate about what you do.
What appears to be a backward step can be a huge leap in the right direction – all of which doesn’t reflect on our resume and certainly not on our LinkedIn profile
When you are reading LinkedIn admiring someone else’s career progression and starting to get that sinking ‘why haven’t I done as well feeling’ take a moment to remember what you have already achieved in your career, what you want from your working life, and where you want your career and life to go.
Then get cracking to make your own version of success happen!
If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends via social media. You just might stop someone comparing themselves today.
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