Comparing yourself to the you of yesterday.
As I began to sit down and write this blog, I started with about five different hooks. Do I start with a quote about something you might relate to? Do I reference one of my favourite TV shows? Do I start with some controversial statement that makes you want to read deeper to get at what I’m really saying? Will this, sixth go around, ultimately be the one I choose to go with? I guess only time will tell.
As I reflected on this process, I thought about the irony of writing a blog post about the the way we are conditioned to compare ourselves to others, and how, at a subconscious level, I was doing that very thing. How can I make this blog better than others out there? How can I make this original and stand out? The reality is, I will never be the best blogger in the world, there will always be someone better. And that’s kind of the point of this blog.
When we compare ourselves to other people, it is almost inevitable that we will always fall short. There will always be someone who is “better” than you in some way. I don’t have what they have. I’m not as liked as they are. They are so much further ahead than I am. Although it can be helpful to have a measuring stick, something to work towards, this comparison of others can leave us feeling self-critical, angry, and at its worst, actually prevents us from moving forward towards our goals in life.
Fortunately there are alternatives to this game. Rather than comparing yourself to others, try comparing yourself to the you of yesterday. What is one simple thing you can do today, that will be an improvement on the day before? Maybe it’s as simple as deciding to floss your teeth today, or opening up that software program to start your taxes. First, you will need to define your aim. What domains in your life do you want to improve? Do you want to be more productive at work? Do you want to be a better friend? Do you want to exercise more? All of these aims may seem daunting at first, but if you compare yourself to...you and start very small, the momentum can build, and increase your motivation.
This strategy draws on a number of psychological theories on human behaviour and emotion that are quite well documented to help people build motivation and achieve their goals.
1.When we set clear goals, that are connected to our values in life, we are more likely to make steps towards achieving those goals.
2. When we break things into small tasks, this can lessen anxiety, and make things feel more manageable, reducing avoidance behaviours.
3. When we are able to start engaging in a task, we feel a sense of accomplishment, which can propel us to move forward to keep that feeling going, creating a domino effect.
4. Finally, providing yourself with a reward after completing these small tasks will send a message to your brain that what you just did is important, and make it more likely that this behaviour may be repeated in the future.
Comparing yourself to the you that you were yesterday is a great way of starting to engage these principals, and make the progress you want in life, without as much of that self-criticism!