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Why Comparing Myself to Others Keeps Me Motivated

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My mother always taught me to not compare myself to others. If I did, she said, I would never live up to my potential. I used to believe that through and through until recently.

No matter who we are, we will always compare ourselves to others. We are in a competitive society. Everything is about winning. When we see people with more possessions, we want to get more too. Keeping up with the Joneses anyone? Many of us who constantly compare find that we can’t keep up and then get discouraged. I have realized we are comparing the wrong things. One way I stay motivated toward my goals is to compare myself to others. I just do it in just a few specific areas.

I’m Comparing myself to you, but i Don’t Want Your Life

 

First things first, I don’t compare my life with the lives of others. I don’t want their lives. I am fond of what I have. Many people I talk to end up comparing the entire picture of someone and then find out they can’t compete. Do you remember how it felt when you lost a game because you weren’t better than the other team? I know quite a few people who feel they fail when they can’t keep up with someone else.

I used to try to keep up with the Joneses, but that just got me into massive debt. It also caused me to have constant stress and worry, along with the feeling of failure. I was trying to keep up with the entire fictional picture of the Joneses. I wanted their life. When I couldn’t have it, I was discouraged. After some time, I realized I was comparing the wrong things. I wanted their lifestyle, but I really just should have used their success as motivation to reach my own goals.

Your Success is My Motivation

 

I have a handful of motivations in my life. My wife and son are huge motivations for me. They are the reason I work so hard to make sure we have financial security. They are not my only motivation though. I have goals and dreams for myself.

I am an entrepreneur at heart. Both of my parents are entrepreneurs and I got bit by the bug as well. I have been running businesses since I was a teen.  I love it and sometimes entrepreneurship loves me back. Other times it doesn’t. One thing I learned over the years is to compare myself to other successful businesses. I do this with my business and my blog. What makes these businesses/blogs successful? How can I achieve success and what does success mean to me?

Did you get that last part? What does success mean to you? That is really the question. While we can all say we want to be successful, what is that? What makes you successful? When you compare yourself to others, you should never try to reach their level. That is almost unattainable. It is also the wrong way of looking at things.

You need to find out what they did to reach their success and then work on ways you can reach yours. What makes some blogs bigger than others? How can you take their success and channel it into your own blog? You have to break down their accomplishments.  It is the same for everything, no matter if you are blogging, running a business, or paying off debt.

The reason I started my blog was to share how I achieved my debt payoff success. I don’t want people following exactly in my footsteps because I realize they need to have their own goals and their own definitions of success. If I thought I succeeded when I paid off $10,000, I don’t expect someone else to use that as their success.

So, when it comes down to it, don’t be afraid to compare yourself to others. I think it creates a natural competition within yourself. The only difference is when you compare yourself, don’t try to mimic their success. Come up with your own goals and what success means to you. You just need to use their journey as a blueprint for crafting your own. I will always use the success of others as motivation for myself, but I won’t take their same path. I will forge my own!

 

What motivates you in life and work? What blogs or businesses do you admire? Have you ever caught yourself trying to keep up with the Joneses of the entrepreneurial world?

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of: **RCB**

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Grayson is the owner of Debt Roundup and Empowered Shopper. He also co-owns Sprout Wealth and Eyes on the Dollar. After going to battle and winning against consumer debt, he decided it was time to learn how to use credit wisely and grow his wealth. He discusses all things personal finance and is not afraid of being controversial. He also is a freelance writer and blog manager.

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54 Comments

  • Catherine says:

    Other people’s stories definitely motivate me too. I want to be “one of those people” who pay their debt off 🙂

  • Alicia says:

    I think there is a limit to reliability. I love hearing about people who have paid off their debt and are now quickly accumulating wealth. But when someone’s net worth is one million, it feels many miles away from my negative net worth. Someone with $100,000? I can see myself getting there, so I guess choosing who to compare to is important, otherwise it can be frustrating.

  • I look to others for inspiration, but the only person I ever try to compete with is myself. I just want to be better than I was a week ago, a month ago, a year ago. Reading someone else’s success stories is a great motivation to keep on improving.

    • Grayson Bell says:

      That is a great attitude to have. I compete with myself as well, but I will always create a mental competition with others. It provides more opportunities for me.

  • I’m in the same boat – and this is one of the reasons why I love the Yakezie Challenge. I know people have mixed feelings about it, but I am a super competitive person, so it’s perfect for me. It challenges me to be better, but also requires that I selflessly promote others. I believe competition is super healthy!

  • Grayson, well put!!! We do the same thing here: have our own goals, but use other people’s successes (and failures) to motivate us to keep on our own path. And it works!

  • Seeing other people struggle but succeed with overcoming challenges makes me want to keep going too. I realize that my own defeatist attitude is my limit and nothing else.

  • I am also motivated by watching others succeed. I totally get that. I actually love watching people take their business to the next level- it reminds me that I also have the tools and drive to get there.

  • I think part of it comes down to covetousness. Look to others to learn but not to covet what you don’t have or get prideful in what you do.

  • Love this! It’s so important to keep in mind how to constructively compare yourself to others and not go overboard (with jealousy). I like that you’ve mastered this! I agree that other people’s successes motivate me.

  • Kipp says:

    I am with others in seeing other people work towards their goals that it can be motivation. But you may also seem someone so far ahead in basically a different world where there is really nothing to be gained. As such, even though he puts out good content, it is hard for me to follow asset grinder. I mean… I can not fathom a 2 million net worth and still working! But that does not mean he doesn’t have good information, just way ahead of where I am at for it to be extremely useful for me.

  • Finding the right motivation, what matters to me, is really the key. I used to know. Now I’m trying to redefine what it is that I care about and I’m having the devil of a time doing it.

  • Kim says:

    I think it can be a blessing and a curse. I know when we were in debt, it worried me, but I looked at lots of other people who were in worse shape than us and it made me think we were doing OK. I also have gotten inspiration from lots of people in the personal finance community, so that’s comparison in a good way. I am pretty type A and have a tendency to really get down on myself if I’m not the best, so it’s always a struggle to be happy in the moment but also strive for more.

    • Grayson Bell says:

      I am a big type A as well Kim, but I have learned slowly that I can’t compare myself to others in a every aspect. I just need to know what they are doing to succeed, then tweak it to match how I work toward goals.

  • I have a ridiculous amount of self-motivation that comes from pushing myself to get better and better. I do like comparing myself to others as a metric for what to strive for or surpass as far as their successes. I think it’s healthy unless it just leads to you beating yourself up, which I try to avoid as much as possible.

  • Isnt comparing ourselves to others something were hard wired to do ?
    Most people have made their opinion about someone within 5 seconds of meeting them – and that includes comparing their status to ours

    • Grayson Bell says:

      Yes, we are hardwired to do that, but most people compare apples to apples. They don’t look at how someone became what they are, they only look at what they are.

  • Love this. While occasionally I can let jealousy get the better of me, seeing people around me succeed let’s me know that success is real and within reach, and motivates me to get some of it for myself.

  • “I’m Comparing myself to you, but I don’t want your life” — I loved that line! 😉 I also even think that sometimes comparison and even envy is a great thing. It activates that which you want most in life, and can energize you to go get it too.

  • I’m completely with you on this, Grayson. I’ve always been hyper-competitive and I find comparing myself to others in certain arenas helps me step up my game. Plus, all you bloggers who bring in thousands and thousands of dollars in side hustles are inspirational!

    • Grayson Bell says:

      I am hyper-competitive as well and it can be a good thing or it can lead to be hyper-obsessive. There have been times when I have obsessed about something and it never worked out for me.

  • I think, at least for most people, comparing yourself to others will have more negative than positive effects. But I get what you are saying about being motivated by the success of others. I know Peter from Bible Money Matters has served as a big motivation to me as a blogger over the past couple years and continues to. I think my dreams for my wife and my future family motivate me a ton on a day-to-day basis.

    • Grayson Bell says:

      You are probably right on that DC, but that doesn’t mean we should think it is OK. There is a point when comparisons are great motivation, but many take it too far and become jealous. That is where it falls apart.

  • Love this, Grayson! Comparing yourself is one of those mixed bag scenarios. We all do it, Some fall into the “keep up” side and others motivated by seeing people succeed. I definitely get motivated by others success. Sometimes I have that moment of envy but then I choose to be happy for them and consider what I need to do to improve my results. My family is definitely a key motivator for me a long with a strong desire to make a difference and help people.

  • Jason B says:

    I don’t compare myself to others at all. I read several blogs to help me stay motivated. I am also motivated by some of the small wins I’ve had during the last couple of years.

  • We all compare ourselves to others…whether we admit it or not. But I don’t try to keep up with them. I just look at my own life and try to make it better as much as possible. It’s that need to be better at the end of the day than I was at the beginning that gets me up and keeps me going!

    • Grayson Bell says:

      It’s the keeping up is where people fall apart. I look at how someone got where they are, not where they are. I want to know the journey, not the end result. That gives me ideas and motivation to get to a point where I will be happy with my success.

  • I think what Travis is said is true, we do it even though we don’t want to, but you have to process it in the best way possible. Can you learn from it? Can you get inspired? Or does it make you feel like crap…and if so, why? It doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but I often find it falls more into that camp than inspiration.

    • Grayson Bell says:

      I used to really get myself down when comparing my life to others, then I realized I was doing it all wrong. I was trying to be what they were, not translating their success into something that would make me successful.

  • I think it is a good idea to do some comparing with others that you aspire to be like, as long as it is not dominating your thoughts and actions. Do I think it is a good idea to purchase a new car because your best friend did, no. But, I do think it is okay to work towards whatever goal you are trying to achieve (a new car or something else).

  • I have always been competitive a little bit, so comparing myself to a select few people has kept me motivated in the past. What keeps me motivated, though, is intrinsic. Competition and comparison usually sparks the project.

  • I have found that in our quest to get out of debt, it has been very, very helpful to read other debt bloggers. I’m glad they share their struggles – because we struggle too. And I feel their victory when they share their triumphs. I would say I feed off of others more than compare myself with them. (I hope that doesn’t sound morbid!)

  • “I think it creates a natural competition within yourself. The only difference is when you compare yourself, don’t try to mimic their success.” When I read the headline, that’s the first thing that popped into my mind. Glad you said that because it’s the real key to the whole issue.

  • Comparing yourself to successful people is a motivator and it also gives you some “silver bullet” ideas that you can reuse in your own life.

    For instance, I started tracing my $10m journey based off someone else doing the same. I also started my own blog based on watching other successful finance bloggers.

    When comparing yourself to others, you just have to “aim high” with who you follow.

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