In a post last week I lamented that I often feel like a faker because I’ve yet to experience any significant success in business.
In response, several people told me that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. You’ve come a long way, they said. You work for yourself and travel the world, and you’ve been doing it for quite a while now.
True, but here’s the thing: I’m no longer comparing myself to Joey Dayjob sitting in his cubicle filing TPS reports.
Nor am I comparing myself to Maggie Freelance making a little bit of cash here and there online, just enough to afford a decent lifestyle in a cheap country but not enough to assure her of a financially secure future.
I’m past all of that.
Three years ago I was Joey Dayjob. I saw all the Maggie Freelances off traveling the world and I thought to myself, Hey, they don’t have anything I don’t have or can’t learn. I should be able to do what they’re doing.
So I went and did it. Right now, I’m living Maggie’s life. And don’t get me wrong: It’s fantastic and I’m grateful every day.
But this isn’t the peak
Far from it.
Just recently I moved the goalposts and started comparing myself to those on the next level.
Like my buddy Johnny Ward, who I shared an apartment with earlier this year. Still shy of his 30th birthday, he’s visited 100 countries, owns a condo outright in Bangkok, and pulled in a quarter million dollars in income so far this year.
Or how about Nathan Barry? In the past twelve months he’s published three books, started a software business, and pulled in a quarter million of his own.
P.S. He’s still in his early twenties.
Now I look at guys like that and I think, Why not me? They don’t have anything I don’t have or can’t learn. I should be able to do what they’re doing.
And so I’m going to do it. I’m going to reach that level.
“Can’t you just be happy where you’re at?”
I’ll answer this question before it’s asked.
I am happy where I’m at. The desire to grow and improve and learn doesn’t stem from unhappiness. I was happy enough in my 9-to-5 job three years ago, but I wanted to push myself. I wanted to go further. That drive got me to where I am now, and it will get me further.
As I’ve written before, those of us who feel the urge to keep pushing, we’re not broken.
If you’re happy where you’re at and don’t feel that same urge, you’re not broken either. We’re just different. And that’s fine.
Either way, it’s a gift and a curse. I sometimes forget to stop and smell the roses. You sometimes get lost in the fragrance and forget everything else.
And yes, I realize that there will always be someone doing better than me, always someone I won’t compare favorably to.
When does it end? you may well ask.
Well I’m not really looking for a finish line. I’m enjoying the process. They say if you’re not digging the daily grind of working towards your goals, then you should probably rethink your goals.
Fortunately, I am digging that grind. I love the feeling of growing and learning and pushing forward. There’s nothing I’d rather do.
Okay, enough about me.
Here’s the question I want to leave you with…
Who are you comparing yourself to?
Do yourself justice. Compare yourself to people who inspire you, who drag you up, not pull you down or keep you coasting. There’s little point comparing yourself to your peers. Raise the bar. Get to the next level.
Now you’ll likely have one of two reactions to what I’ve just written:
- You’ll think I’m nuts, that I’m reaching to far, and resolve not to try likewise.
- Or, you’ll use this as inspiration to step your own game up, to raise your own bar.
Neither of those reactions are wrong, but realize that your reaction is a choice.
Yes, it is.
You can choose to push or you can choose to settle. There are pros and cons to each.
Which will it be for you?