It’s my experience that external comparisons are just not that productive. By external comparisons, I mean comparing yourself to others. I find it much more useful to compare you to you – an internal comparison.
I was swimming laps yesterday and there was a man about my age in another lane being assisted by an instructor helping him complete his water aerobics routine. My routine is to swim 20 lengths of the pool and then take about a minute break before doing another 20 lengths. I then take another minute break and swim another 20 lengths. The swim totals about a mile.
During one of my breaks, the man commented to me that he was doing nothing compared to what I was doing. My response was that he was doing more than 80% of the population who were probably doing nothing. He laughed and then said, “I don’t think I’ll ever get to the level you’re at.”
I told him that I used to swim quite regularly years ago but had gotten out of the habit, until recently. I went on to say that 3 months ago, when I started up again, I could barely swim two lengths before being totally winded. I worked up to my current routine over time.
I vividly remember the first day back. I was beating myself up for not measuring up. I was watching other people swim and noticed they were doing a lot more than me and was fretting that I couldn’t do what they could. I was using an external comparison. That, for me, is not motivational.
What I found motivational is comparing what I did today to what I did yesterday. That’s a manageable, personal measuring stick. You’re not comparing yourself to the elite, only to your own accomplishments.
In our haste to accomplish whatever, we put up roadblocks by comparing ourselves with others. It’s much easier to progress when you compare your
results to your own recent benchmarks.
Patience is your friend on your road to accomplishment; external comparison is not.
The realization that I’ll never throw the football like Tom Brady shouldn’t keep me from playing catch in the front yard. I deprive myself of pleasure and accomplishment when I compare my efforts to another’s, especially one who is many rungs above me on the ladder.
It’s too cliche to say, “one step at a time,” so I’ll just say this: If you pay more attention to what you’re doing, you’ll do more, and then you can declare that you’re beyond compare.
All the best,
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