Comparisonitis is the new made up word which everyone seems to be talking about at the moment – but what is it and why can it be so harmful? Comparisonitis means to compulsively compare your life and/ or accomplishments to those of others to determine relative importance. And it is RIFE in the lives of many woman I know and in particular the business owners amongst them.
One of the most obvious reasons that comparing yourself and your business to other people’s is that it rarely makes you feel anything other than a bit crap – and since when did feeling a bit crap about ourselves ever work out well for us? But there are other reasons, sensible reasons, why indulging in comparisons is not a good idea and here they are;
- You’re not focusing on what you should be, which is you and/ or your business. If you spend a lot of your emotional energy and too much actual time in the day looking at what everyone else is doing, and feeling negative about it, you’re not putting that energy and time into the positive steps that you could be taking to develop and improve your own business. Imagine if instead of spending time scrolling through a competitors Instagram or reading the sales page about their new product, you were putting that into developing and marketing your own work? Do you think you’d get more done? Of course you would. You cannot underestimate the total drain on your time and mental attitude that unnecessary comparisons can create.
- You are comparing your insides to their outsides – ok so on the surface, everything is peachy with your competitors. Their social media feeds are full of positive success and joyful enthusiasm, their website displays glowing testimonials and yes, maybe they actually are selling to some of the people that you wish you were selling to. But have a look at your own marketing messages. Are you saying things on social media like ‘terrible day, no one would take my call’ or ‘I’ve launched a new service and I hope this one sells better than the last one’ or ‘hands up who already wishes they’d stayed in bed?’ (posted at 9am!) or ‘lost out on the pitch AGAIN’. No of course you aren’t. And neither are they. They’re carefully curating what they share and include on the news page, social feeds and newsletters. They are being as selective with the truth as you or I. So is it sensible to compare what they are happy to say publicly about themselves with the worst things you know about you and your current situation – no, it isn’t.
- You’re not comparing like with like – if you have competitors who you compare yourself to and find yourself coming up short, ask yourself this; who started their business first? Maybe you did but I reckon 9 times out of 10 it’s the other person. If you only started your business 2 years ago and they’ve just reached their 10th work birthday the changes are that yes, they WILL have more twitter followers than you, more people will have joined their mailing list and yes, their turnover will probably be larger than yours too. But don’tYOU expect to be in a different place a few years down the line? Well that’s where they are, a few years down the line! So you just CAN’T compare.
- You don’t know everything about their business and how they got there – who knows what help, or sacrifices, that person made to build their business? Perhaps they had a pot of money to invest at the start up that you didn’t, perhaps they have a successful business owner as a parent who has mentored and introduced them to their network. Maybe they have sacrificed having children, or have a failed relationship as the result of the hours they’ve put in over the last few years. Perhaps they had previously experience of running a business before this one, one that they made all of their mistakes in and which ultimately didn’t work out. Again, your background, opportunities and access to funds and mentors and other support will influence your business journey and yours isn’t the same as theirs so again, are comparisons useful? No.
- Business growth can happen in fits and starts – maybe you are currently comparing yourself to someone who is in a growth phase when you are in, shall we call it a ‘consolidation phase’? Unless you know that you and your competitors are in the same stage of the cycle, comparisons here are not useful either. When YOU are in a growth phase, others will not be, it really is swings and roundabouts!
So, what can we do about comparisonitis?
Well that’s almost an article in itself and I’ll probably write one but I will say, DON’T get yourself into the trap of thinking you HAVE to know what everyone else is up to. You don’t. You may think that by knowing what everyone else is doing will give you the edge somehow – but honestly, it won’t. And it’s worth considering that if you get caught in the trap of doing this too much, as you can see above, nothing good will come of it and it’s likely that you are harming, not helping, your businesses prospects and your own mental wellbeing by getting too caught up in comparisonitis.
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