Do you feel like you need to compete with others? Such competitions invariably lead to invalid conclusions. Comparing yourself with others is a case of apples and oranges.
Imagine you’re a high school basketball player. You’re 5’6” and have never played basketball before. Your teammate is 6’6”, has played basketball year-round for 8 years, and his dad plays in the NBA.
Can you really say anything about yourself based upon a comparison with this person?
No one is exactly like you or has exactly the same background. All comparisons with others are false on some level. But competing with yourself brings you all the benefits – and more – that you hope to receive by competing with others.
Use these strategies to compete with yourself and achieve more:
1. Establish a starting point. Every competition has a starting point. If your goal is to lose weight, weigh yourself. If you want to increase your income, determine your current income.
2. Determine the behaviors needed to see improvement. Do you need to eat more vegetables and join a gym or cold-call 10 people each week? Make a list of the behaviors that will help. Then ruthlessly put them in order from most effective to least.
• Focus on the behaviors that will return the greatest rewards.
3. Measure your compliance with those new behaviors. These measurements let you know how well you’re sticking to the path. If you’re on the right path, your status will move in a positive direction.
4. Enjoy your success. Losing three pounds or earning an extra $100 is reason to celebrate. It doesn’t matter if your friend is at the perfect bodyweight or already earns $1 million per year. You have every right to be ecstatic with your progress.
• You’ll also notice that you don’t need anyone else to notice. When you compete with others, this isn’t true.
• You’re competing with the person you used to be. You have all the control. It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing.
5. Focus on becoming the best possible version of yourself. This is also under your control and doesn’t require competing with anyone else. Whom do you want to become? What will your life stand for? Make a decision and move toward that goal.
6. Competing with yourself is filled with success. Can you do better this week than you did last week? Of course you can. You won’t always be successful, but you can be successful more often than not. All those smaller successes are cumulative. You can end up in a spectacular place without ever doing anything spectacular.
7. Constantly testing yourself builds focus. You won’t be concerned with others, what they’re doing, or how you stack up. You learn to keep your attention on your own actions and progress. Everything else is just a distraction.
• By not competing with others, you’ll feel less need to make decisions based on the opinions of others. Part of the reason people feel the need to compete with others is the desire to appear impressive.
8. You learn about yourself. Walking the path of constant improvement is the best way to learn about yourself. You’ll quickly learn your preferences, strengths, and weaknesses.
9. You take control over your life. You can make progress and feel good about yourself anytime you please.
10. You win!
Competing against yourself might sound easy, but it also requires courage. After the first several months, additional progress becomes more challenging. You’ll hit a wall and have to dig deeper to realize new progress. After changing the easy things, you’ll eventually be required to tackle more challenging issues. Competing with yourself is exciting and challenging.