A few months ago I was talking to a friend about the current blogging landscape and we were both saying how we felt the pressure to post regular, valuable content because that is what you are 'supposed' to do as a blogger.
Basically we were both struggling with this idea of the 'perfect blogger' and why the hell we were finding it so hard to do when everyone else seems to manage just fine, at least so it seemed from our distanced perspective.
A few days later it clicked for me. The issue here was comparisonitis. I didn't even realise it at the time, but what I had been doing was comparing myself to, not just one, but ALL the amazing bloggers out there and holding myself to the highest standard possible. And this, as you can imagine, resulted in what I call perfection paralysis.
I originally wrote this post the week after having this conversation with my friend but it's been sitting in my drafts since then. Between then and now that pressure I felt from comparing myself to other bloggers and girl bosses has since diminished significantly as I have stopped focusing so much on what others are doing. As a result my motivation and inspiration has returned.
I wanted to write this post today because I know this is an easy trap for bloggers and solopreneurs to fall into, and it can be detrimental to our motivation, work and spirit. It's so important that we are aware of this entrepreneurial ailment so that we can avoid and/or snap out of it. And that is exactly what I intend to help you do in this post.
To go along with this post I've also created a mini worksheet to help you come up with your own strategy for overcoming comparisonitis.
How Comparisonitis Holds You Back
Before we look at the ways that comparisonitis holds us back I was to define what I mean by comparisonitis. Comparisonitis as defined by Wiktionary is 'the compulsion to compare one’s accomplishments to another’s to determine relative importance, etc.' Basically it's when you compare yourself to someone else in order to determine your self worth. So what impacts does this have on us as bloggers and entrepreneurs?
When you compare yourself, you are making a judgement about yourself based on how you perceive another. Usually you are trying to determine if you are better than (superior) or not as good as (inferior). Although if you're feeling super zen you might decide you are equal to, but let's be honest that's pretty rare unless you're Eckhart Tolle.
For most of us, especially women we have a tendency to feel inferior when we compare. It always seems that everyone else is more talented, more likeable, more intelligent, more organised, more motivated, more beautiful, more successful than us.
When we decide that everyone (or at least everyone who has what you want, and is where you want to be) is better than you then it's only natural that you doubt yourself. It's like your mind turns these people into mythical, god like beings with manifesting superpowers while you are just a mere mortal with no hope.
I'm sure you already know from your own experience how toxic self doubt can be. Think about how many times you have decided not to do something that you really wanted to do but didn't because you doubted yourself.
When we doubt ourselves it holds us back from following our heart and from putting our best work out there, because we don't believe that we are good enough compared to that person over there. 'Because that person, has it all and if they were to do what I want to do, it would surely turn to gold, but I'm not as good as them so it won't work for me so there's no point in even trying.' Sound familiar? I think it's pretty obvious why self doubt is a killer so let's move on the the next
One of the ways that self doubt and fear caused by comparing ourselves to others manifests is procrastination. When we are scared of doing something that challenges us, puts us out there and opens us up to the judgement of others (good or bad) like starting a blog or business, a common response is to procrastinate.
Why do we procrastinate? Generally, at least in my experience, it's because we are scared that we are not good enough compared to others and that therefore we are going to fail and/or be criticised by others.
So when you are constantly comparing yourself to other people online, you keep yourself in that cycle of fear and self doubt which feeds your desire to procrastinate, holding you back from taking action and moving towards your goals.
Wasting Time Consuming Rather Than Creating
The third way that comparisonitis holds us back could come under procrastination but I thought it was important enough to mention on it's own. And that is wasting time consuming rather than creating.
I know you know how easy it is to get sucked into the black hole of browsing blogs, especially if you are a Pinterest lover like me. Hours just seem to vanish and you could have sworn that only 30 minutes had gone by.
Consuming content is a pretty sly beast because it often masks itself as 'research' or 'education'. It tricks us into thinking that we are doing something productive. But let's get real here, after reading the 20th blog post on how to start a blog you know more than enough to get started.
Don't get me wrong, I think it's essential that we continue to research and educate ourselves when we don't know how to do something but we don't need to read every blog post and watch every video tutorial on the subject before we take any action.
Be honest with yourself and pull yourself up when you are using education as an excuse.
How To Break Free of Comparisonitis
What can you do to break free of comparisonitis? How did I do it? Well firstly I'm not completely immune to it. I still catch myself doing it. For me comparisonitis looks like me looking to others to see how they did things because I don't trust myself and my ideas. This results in me trying forcing myself to do things in my blog and business that don't necessarily feel natural to me.
However there are a few things I've been doing to prevent comparisonitis from paralysing me in fear and preventing me from moving forward. Basically I've just been recognising when I'm comparing myself and ignoring my instincts and then bringing myself back to center. For me this usually involves me concentrating on my breathing and letting go of all those crazy thoughts. Then I just ask myself what do I want right now? What feels right for me?
Unfortunately this is a bit of a personal process and I can't put it into a step-by-step formula that will work for everyone. Everyone is different and what works for everyone will be different. However there seems to be two keys to breaking free of comparisonitis:
- Be aware of yourself and notice when you are comparing yourself
- Centre yourself and let it go
The awareness is pretty self explanatory and there is no trick to this, other than making it your intention to be aware.
Centering yourself and letting go of the negative talk is the personal part of the equation. You'll have to find what works best for you. It might be going for a walk/run, watching a funny youtube clip, having a cup of tea, listening to music, moisturising your legs, yoga, meditating, simply breathing as I do. As long as it's something that makes you feel good and centered in yourself.
To help you figure out what works best for you I have created a little worksheet to go along with the post.