Most of us have grown up in a culture where success is having status, money, winning, etc. While these things don’t bring happiness, they sure as heck make life a lot easier. Oftentimes, they offer a lot of freedom as well.
And who doesn’t want an easier life?
Who doesn’t want a life with more freedom?
Very few people, that’s who.
Now, I’m not saying success is exactly the same for everyone, or even remotely close for that matter. But, we can’t deny that winning feels good and that having some status and some money can offer a lot of freedom and solve a lot of problems.
So, many of us are busting our butts trying to achieve what success means to us. And I think that is fantastic! I find it inspiring that people want to create a life where they feel successful and free.
The issue comes about when we are looking at the success of others and measuring ourselves up against that. You know exactly what I’m talking about.
The destructive and untrue thoughts towards ourselves:
“They are . . . I’m not . . . ”
“They have . . . I haven’t . . .”
“They can . . . I can’t . . .”
We’ve all compared ourselves to other people before and we’ll probably all do it again at some point.
However, it’s not at all helpful to where we want to go. It’s discouraging, disheartening, and takes a hard hit on our self-esteem. Ultimately, comparing ourselves against others is toxic to our dreams and our forward movement.
So, rather than promising that you’ll never compare yourself with anyone again, why not sign up for two things that are a lot easier to do?
What are these two things?
Aha! You’ll have to read my story from the French Alps to find out.
It was a lovely morning in the Clarée Valley of French Alps in June. A friend and I began hiking around 9:15 am. I was greatly looking forward to it and the hike was supposed to be easy enough.
As we started our ascent I was present. I marvelled at the beautiful green landscapes, the mountain bottoms covered in tall evergreen pines, and the cute little Swiss chalets. I was grateful and happy to be breathing fresh mountain air as a healthy hiker in such a gorgeous place.
That presence and awe continued for some time.
A while later, however, the sun started to beat down and the hike started to become much more physically demanding. My state of “being present” began to fade and the “thinker” in me began to judge and measure myself up against everyone else.
“I wonder what my heart rate is?” as I tapped my Fitbit for a reading. “152, hm. This is a pretty good workout.” I thought proudly, momentarily calming my annoyance with the heat.
But, five seconds later, I realized the heat again.
“Ugh. It’s so hot. I wonder how much longer until we get to the lake.” I thought to myself.
Immediately after, I saw some hikers on their descent. I was in disbelief because it seemed “too early” for that.
I pulled my watch up towards my face to see the time. 10:47. Confirmed. This was “too early” to be on the descent.
I envied them and thought “I wish we would have got started earlier. We could have also been on our way down and not had to deal with all this heat.”
Off in the distance, I could see a few more hikers who were also headed down as my brain kept the judgements and commentary coming:
“Man, these guys have already made it to the lake, too . . . We didn’t get up early enough . . . Why hadn’t we thought of this? Maybe we can just turn around here and now.”
When suddenly, as if the Greater Good had given me a good smack in the face, I caught myself. I was feeling envy and defeat. I was also disappointed with myself.
I mean, this was one of the most beautiful valleys I’d ever seen and somehow I was falling into the trap of comparing what I assumed others had done and what I had not. I did not want to continue in that cycle. So, I asked myself how I could reframe this . . . What lesson was behind all of this?
My brain was busy shuffling through ideas as I proceeded forward. Finally, it came to me.
I didn’t want to compare my journey to theirs. I wanted to do something much more powerful. Firstly, connect to it.
By connecting to it, I mean sharing the walk with these people, being a part of something greater than myself, ultimately accepting that if they had arrived to the top of the mountain I could and would as well.
After all, we were all out there sharing this day, this walk. Some people had gotten up and started bright and early, others would start later in the day. None of that mattered. What mattered is that we were all taking this walk. We were connected in that, despite all the ubiquities: like reasons for the climb, paces, physical abilities. We were on our personal walk, but also a shared walk.
I also decided that the only person I could measure myself against was myself.
Today we had started the hike a lot earlier than other days and it was a lot easier than other times. Besides that, it was a hike that years ago I would have struggled a lot more with and today as a seasoned hiker was a breeze. Lastly, I wasn’t out there to compete, my goal was simple: Arrive to the lake and I planned to do that.
In realizing this connection to everyone out there and focusing on my one personal goal the feelings of defeat and envy that were weighing me down were lifted and replaced by awe and inspiration to continue. I was greatly empowered by the connection and motivated by my goal.
So the question is how does this apply to your journey to location independence or building a life with more freedom?
The big takeaway I’m offering here is knowing that you are unique and that the only path you can take is your own.
When you do see others speed ahead or at any distance ahead of you, whether it’s someone who has already had success in the launching their remote business, or has achieved what you want to achieve, know that getting there is possible. The fact that they are doing it or that they’ve done it proves it is possible. Not only for them, but also for you.
The other thing to remember is comparison can be useful when it is measuring yourself now to yourself before. And don’t you dare just look at everything you haven’t done! Look at the gains, the wins, all the forward steps. That is what is going to keep your dreams alive and moving forward.
So, my challenge to you today is to:
- Identify an area of your life that you’re sinking your own ship by comparing yourself to someone else.
2. Find the strength in connection rather than comparison and write it out!
3. Start comparing yourself to yourself in loving ways by focusing on progress, not on perfection.
4. Use these truths to propel you forward on your walk and of course, feel free to share them here!