The New Year is upon us and everyone has a new resolution, goal and plan for 2017. If you scroll through your Facebook timeline or chit chat with some of your closest friends, you’ll see that most people expect to grow in some way this year whether professionally, personally or relationally.
I’ll be the first to say that I love goals, I love planning, I love challenging myself and I love to hope and dream for the future! All these things are great, but in this process there is one simple notion I am very intentional about keeping in mind; life is a collaboration, not a competition.
Challenge yourself, push yourself, create goals and prepare for growth but measure your success by who you use to be and what you aspire to be, rather then what the person to the left or the right of you is doing.
Thinking about this concept of ‘compare and contrast’ and our innate instinct to compare ourselves to those around us and contrast our success to theirs, I was reminded of a funny story. A few years ago I was fortunate enough to work with 2 of the most amazing women I’ve ever met. We went from being co-workers to friends quickly and it made for some of the best days at work.
We would laugh, talk and joke around to make the days go by faster. It was great!
Well one boring afternoon, one of my friends and I decided to play a trick on the third friend. The joke would be that I would challenge her to a race (yes, like a running race) around the building. She was much more fit then I was) but the plan was, once she took off from the front door, I would go back into the building, find my way to another door, go out that exit and essentially short cut to the finish line. In hindsight, I’m not sure why we thought this was such a good idea or even so funny for that matter, but I guess it goes to show how boring our days were.
Anyways, we’re lined up at the front, ‘On your mark, get set, GO!’ and we both took off. I quickly ran back inside, did my little short cut thing and then came back to the front door where we first started. She runs up a couple minutes later gasping for air (apparently she’s very competitive and took winning very seriously). As she approached, she said something like ‘YOU beat me?!’ and I said, something like ‘that’s right I beat you!!’ She looked around, ‘No way! I didn’t even see you pass me!!’ I said something to the effect of ‘That’s because I was running SO fast, I just whizzed right past you!’
It was honestly, hysterical. I laughed so hard that I gave myself up in no time. We both walked into the office, me laughing, her still gasping for air, it was seriously great.
As entertaining as this story is, I think the underlying principle is noteworthy; the only person you’re racing is yourself.
It’s easy to get on your mark the first of the year, get ready and then set off on this race to the finish line, hoping to whiz past every other person that crosses your path but the reality is, while you’re ‘racing’, others are simply doing their thing. They aren’t thinking about you, they aren’t considering you, they are simply running their race, doing their thing, their way.
During this time of year it will be easy to look at those around you and immediately begin to measure up to them.
‘How did they lose so much weight?’
‘What made her qualified for that position?’
‘How can they afford a new car?’
‘Why did he get that job?’
‘Did they really just buy a house?’
‘Did you see how many likes that post got?!’
‘Are they really getting married before me?!’
The list can go on and on, but the point is simple, another person’s success does not equal your failure. You’re not racing against them, you’re running with them.
When you feel temped to compare and contrast, don’t. That’s it, that’s the key!! Just don’t. Nothing good comes of that. Focus on your journey and realize those around you are just running their own race with you, not against you. It’s ok if we’re all going in the same direction, it’s ok if we have some of the same goals, it’s ok if some days those around you seem up while you feel down, it’s ok! The point isn’t to be better then the next person, by that standard, you’ll always fall short! The hope is that everyday we can be a little better then our own personal best.
Do your thing and do it well.
This year can be great for ALL OF US! There is more then enough success to go around 🙂