There was a time I dreaded LinkedIn notifications appearing in my inbox announcing the promotion of former colleagues and classmates. We graduated University at the same time yet while their career trajectories showed exponential growth, mine was of the non-linear variety.
I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d done it all wrong. I had traded career stability for an exciting expat life and time with my children. Yet as the gap widened between myself and other people my age, the comparison crept in.
Although it can provide a degree of motivation, comparing yourself to others does not help you create the life you want to live. Here’s what I’ve learned:
1. Compete with yourself, not with others.
When you compare a single element of your life to someone else’s, you’re not considering the multifaceted differences between your individual journeys. We’re all on our own path. Look back on what you have accomplished. Where are you now compared to last year, five years ago? Seeing how far you’ve come might boost your confidence and give you the knowledge that you can do difficult things. And if you’re not seeing the kind of growth you’d like, set some goals for yourself. Identify where you want to be and create a plan to get there. Having a tangible plan of action will give you the confidence to know you will get where you want to be in your own time.
2. Practice gratitude
Think about the reasons for your career break. Did you take a break to raise children? To move overseas for a partner’s job? To care for a family member? For your own mental health? Thinking about your “why” and being grateful for it can help to reframe negative thoughts. Steve Jobs said, “you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” You must trust that everything is happening the way it is meant to, and it will all connect somehow. Celebrate the unique journey you’re on.
Starting a daily gratitude practice can help you focus on what you do have rather than what you don’t (yet). There are an infinite number of resources online, but even writing down “three good things” that happened in your day every night is a simple way to start.
3. Find inspiration
Flip comparison on its head and use it as inspiration instead. Find people who are doing what you want to do and learn from them. Putting yourself out there and networking with people who are already where you want to be is always worth it and can also help build your confidence.
4. Be mindful of your triggers
If LinkedIn notifications make you feel bad, turn them off. Unfollow or mute people on social media who make you feel insecure. Follow people who inspire you and motivate you instead.
Comparing yourself to others doesn’t help you create the life you want, but mindful action does. If you’re having trouble getting started, you may want to work with a career coach to create an accountable action plan to move forward.
This article was written by Shannon MacDonald, one of our partner coaches who supports women in reaching their full potential by working together to clarify what they want, build confidence and unlock resources within to make transformational changes in life and career. You can book a freed discovery call with Shannon to find out more about coaching with her or get in touch via her profile page.
March 15, 2023