I have a confession to make. When I see someone else achieving one of my dreams, my stomach drops. I squint my eyes and frown, crossing my arms. With a big sigh, I lay back in my chair and start feeling bad about myself.
Seeing others thriving in your vocation while you’re still struggling can be tough and discouraging. You start to wonder why you’re so behind in the game, and start to think thoughts like, “Am I really good enough to do this? It’s already been done so well by others; what new value could I possibly bring?”
Good news: There is plenty of room for you to succeed in your own way, using your own unique talents. You just have to do a simple mindset switch, and start thinking of your successful peers as tools to further your learning.
Here are 3 tips to help you overcome jealousy and comparison to others, and to help you start accepting and honoring your personal journey:
1. Make peace with your current situation
What has brought you to this place in life? There may not be any good excuses for not accomplishing goals but there are reasons for where you’re at. Life is tough, and it takes time to both learn what we are passionate about, and how we can turn our passion into cash flow.
I drifted through college, doing mediocre work and naively believing things would just fall into place after graduation. When reality set in and I was left with thousands of dollars of debt and no job, I felt lost. It took me several years of awful, meaningless jobs until I finally learned that success takes very hard work, and that I would never be “discovered” or have anything handed to me.
You need to forgive yourself for whatever has held you back up to this point, stop beating yourself up for past failures and start thinking, “How can I move forward now?”
“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.”– Albert Einstein
2. Realize success takes time
This can be the most difficult step: becoming comfortable with moving slowly but surely, and realizing you are not going to become successful overnight. Success is a reflection of hard work over the long term, and it’s easy to get discouraged when you don’t see results immediately.
I once came across a very talented blogger that had started generating significant income in just a few short months, all while juggling a full-time job and 2 young children. Her success made me feel inadequate, since I had quit my job to stay home with my children a year ago, and hadn’t made much writing income yet.
I felt a strong need to prove myself immediately, and that same night I rushed out to the coffee shop with my laptop to feverishly work on my writing. Instead of being relaxed and productive, I had anxiety and writer’s block. I realized it was because I was forcing myself to write because I felt bad about myself, not because I was genuinely inspired. Keep your ego in check, and move at the pace that works best for you.
3. Engage with the people you envy
No matter where you’re at in your journey, you need other people who can show you the way. While rising to their enviable level of success, they’ve inevitably persevered through countless failures—all of which you can learn from. Acknowledge that they deserve their success, then ask yourself, what can I learn from them? Soak in all what they have to offer, and then take it a step further and reach out to them.
When I come across a blogger I admire, I shoot them a quick email thanking them for inspiring me and then asking a couple short, thoughtful questions about how they got to where they are. They are usually thrilled to receive the compliment, and more than happy to share a little wisdom.
Emulating and learning from successful people will help you tremendously in your own journey, but don’t get caught up in comparing yourself to them. Everyone has different skills and life experiences, and your path will never match perfectly with someone else’s.
“Envy blinds men and makes it impossible for them to think clearly.” – Malcolm X
Maybe what you dream of doing has been done before, but not with your personal style and unique perspective. There is plenty of room for you in the game, so allow yourself to let go of jealousy and be inspired by others. After all, there was a point in their lives when they were exactly where you are.