freelance strategies

Comparison is something that many of us have done since childhood. It starts out innocently enough. You see a classmate getting a larger piece of pizza in the cafeteria on Pizza Day. You feel slighted for a few minutes, but by recess, you’re so focused on the monkey bars that the feeling is forgotten.

As we get older, comparing things like your salary, possessions, and overall success can deal a much larger blow to your ego. Constant comparison in business is destructive for your mindset because you can never win this game.

There will always be someone making more or having more success at business than you unless you’re someone like Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates. And it’s even possible these two men have felt the need to compare during their rise to the top.

Here’s what to do instead of comparing to be kinder to yourself:

Do a More Appropriate Comparison

When we compare, we’re comparing the best of someone else to the worst of ourselves. Why? Because other business owners aren’t readily sharing their pitfalls and epic fails with us. They’re sharing their business highlights.

If you’re just starting out, or going through a slow business period, it’s unfair for you to compare yourself to other business owners who are thriving. You don’t know what their journey has been or how they’ve gotten to this point. Many business owners have started multiple businesses and pivoted more times than they can count before finding success.

Instead of comparing yourself to someone else, compare yourself to yourself. Don’t just make it about income either. Take stock of everything you’ve achieved.

Think about the last two to five years: What have you learned? How have you grown? This is a more appropriate comparison.

Stop Moving the Goal Posts

When you get into the habit of comparing, the goal posts are always changing.

The cycle goes like this; you compare yourself to one business owner. Eventually, you achieve a similar level of success as them. Instead of celebrating, you begin to compare yourself to an entirely new business owner.

Trust me, this way of operating will drive you insane. Set specific and measurable business goals for yourself based on the lifestyle that you want to lead. Otherwise, it’s too easy to fall into a routine where you constantly want more and more. Don’t let comparison influence your professional ambitions.

Find Non-Monetary Values

Focus your energy on non-monetary things you value like giving back or transforming the lives of your customers. Ultimately, financial goals can get you only so far.

I’ve met various income goals while running my business. Each time, I thought as soon as I hit the goal I would feel different. I believed I would feel more confident, more worthy, and more successful. It hasn’t been the case. However, I found what does keep me motivated is when I get emails from clients and customers with praise.

Think about what besides money is important to you. Keeping track of how you impact people’s lives is much more fulfilling than watching what other business owners are doing.

Final Word

Comparing can be a hard habit to break, but it’s one you should spend time working on. Life feels much lighter when you’re concentrating on your own growth, goals, and values instead of someone else’s.

Taylor K. Gordon is a personal finance writer and founder of Tay Talks Money, a personal finance and productivity blog on hacking your way to a happier savings account. Taylor has contributed to MagnifyMoney, The Huffington Post, GoGirl Finance, Madame Noire, and The Write Life.

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