I was at an outing the other night with a group of ladies I recently met and as I shared appetizers and a glass of wine with this well-to-do, well-heeled group, I couldn’t help but feel like a fraud.
These women seemed to have everything: wealthy husbands, enormous houses, fancy cars, overseas trips, the latest designer bags, expensive jewelry, successful kids - in short, everything that money can buy.
At that moment, I caught myself thinking about how the details of their lives were so different from my own, and for a split second the idea of achieving even a fraction of what they had felt like an impossible dream.
But then I remembered the words from one of my mentors: “Comparison is death to creativity, productivity and success."
It reminded me that, in order to combat feelings of inadequacy, we need to focus on our own goals - not live in fear or envy of others' successes.
To be fair, this is not an easy task. But with some deliberate thought and focus, we can master the art of contentment and avoid the comparison trap for good.
Due to the nature of the real estate industry, if you're a successful realtor, you're going to be in a position where your production numbers are always being compared against someone else.
This, unfortunately, makes it easy to get caught up in production goals and forget about the fact that it's not the only metric of success.
In an ideal world, your productivity should be measured by how well you fulfill the goals you've set for yourself -- not by how much other people are producing.
Maybe you're a single parent and being present with your family is more important to you than being in the office 15 hours a day.
Or perhaps your focus is on building relationships with other agents to scale your efforts and provide you the opportunity to take a step back and pursue other passions.
Whatever it may be, what's most important is that as long as you're fulfilling the goals that are meaningful to YOU, then you should feel confident about how successful you are independent of arbitrary production numbers.
We are all only given a finite number of days here on earth and once our time is up -- that's it.
While it may sound morbid, if we approach life with this perspective then it will be much easier for us to find a sense of balance and contentment, sans comparison.
That's because we will be more content with who we are and what we have, rather than focusing on the perceived success or material trappings of those around us.
It's not a matter of never comparing yourself to others, but instead focusing on the qualities that make YOU happy and fulfilled. You'll find yourself living a much more rewarding life without all the added stress from comparison.
While the two are often used interchangeably, there is a distinct difference between competition and comparison.
Competition is healthy and productive. It's about having a goal, doing your best to achieve it, then celebrating with others who have done the same.
Comparison, on the other hand, can be destructive and unproductive. The moment you start to look at other people and wonder if they're better than you is the moment that your peace of mind starts to suffer.
Successful realtors don't measure themselves against others. They enjoy competition, revel in it even. But they reject comparison because that only makes them feel bad about who they are and what they do while limiting their abilities to grow and develop in the process.
The key is not comparing yourself with your peers, but rather comparing the current version of you to your past self.
Even with all of the tips listed above, it can be a struggle to avoid comparing yourself to others.
But if we're honest, the comparison of our lives to someone else's stems from some level of admiration. So if you're going to compare yourself, why not use that admiration as a catalyst for congratulating the people you admire?
You can be supportive and happy about their success without feeling like you are in some way inferior.
And while it may seem counterintuitive, it helps break down those barriers and lets your success shine through without being overshadowed by someone else's greatness.
Additionally, when you're down on yourself and feel the green-eyed monster of envy about to take over, focus on the fact that these people who seem like they have it all together are human too -- just like you. They have struggles and shortcomings as well!
So what are the takeaways?
The most important takeaway is that we should always be looking for ways to improve our own situation, rather than comparing ourselves and trying to keep up with other people.
Keeping this in mind will help you avoid falling into the comparison trap so that you can focus on your own success instead of worrying about how others are doing -- whether that is better or worse than you.
It’s true – there may come a time when someone does more business or makes more money than us, but as long as we have integrity and do what is best for us, then it really shouldn’t matter.
Let’s be happy for them, but focus on our own goals and measure our success by how much better we are than the day before.