Compare Yourself to Who You Were Yesterday
Jordan Peterson said that. It’s rule number 4 of his best-selling book, 12 Rules For Life . “No one else is really like you in any deep sense,” Peterson said. “The conditions of your life truly are unique.” You have no idea how much time and effort someone else has put into achieving the results you envy. Channel your envy into purpose. “The only person you should try to be better than is who you were yesterday.” The pragmatic principle of this chapter is to consistently bargain with yourself to make small incremental positive changes in your life. The idea is not only measurable but also fulfilling to see the little gradual improvements in your own life. “Anyone who isn’t embarrassed of who they were last year probably isn’t learning enough,” says Alain de Botton. Peterson encourages us to avoid comparing our progress against others but instead against where we previously had been. It’s a great way to make progress in life. The human brain has a natural tendency to make comparisons as a system of developing logic and reasoning.
You can’t stop comparing. It’s inevitable. But you can channel your brain to make a better comparison in your long-term interest, growth, and happiness. Change the object of comparison to yourself. If the urge to compare is too strong to ignore, measure yourself against yourself. Once you truly understand how to let go of your comparison mindset, you will see the world from an entirely different perspective. The dangers of pinning our happiness/progress with on how we measure up to others are too great to ignore. The more you desperately want to be like someone else, the more unworthy you feel. The more you desperately want to be happier, the lonelier you become, despite the awesome people surrounding you. What do you know about yourself? You are here to live your own story. Don’t focus on the actions of other people, but on your own. Aiming at the wrong thing has serious adverse consequences. It causes us to miss other important things in life.
“There is an endless supply of people to whom you could compare yourself and your accomplishments, but, inevitably, you’ll always end up on the losing side of the comparison. That’s because there will always be someone who has done something that you wished you could also accomplish” says Lisa Quest of Forbes.
Living in constant envy of others is not wisdom. Wisdom is facing the world exactly as it is and opening our eyes to opportunities to improve ourselves, the world and those around us. In life we only see what we aim at. The rest of the world (and that’s most of it) is hidden. If you consistently focus on everything you don’t have, instead of who you were yesterday and how far you’ve come, you will build self-doubt overtime. When you start aiming at something different — something like “I want to be better than I was yesterday ” — your minds will start presenting you with new information, derived from your previously hidden self, to aid you in your new pursuit and quest to become a better version of yourself. The idea is to start using yourself yesterday as a baseline, so you can at least notice the direction and magnitude of the changes you can make today.
With enough information about who were yesterday, you can use this knowledge to influence your future actions so that on average you are improving over time. The key to the good life you really need is giving a damn about what’s important to your growth, career and total well being.
To improve daily, put your gap time to good use. Anywhere from 1–3 hours of your day is probably spent in “gaptime.” Gap times are those between meaningful activities but aren’t normally long enough to get more done. Or the time you need to recover from deep work. Whether it’s 10 minutes or 1 hour a day, all of us can devote a small portion of our time to learning, and personal growth. Your life and career depends on it. Commuting to work, waiting in line, small talks at the office, small breaks in your schedule, long breaks from work and everything you do when you are not actively working on your tasks for the day. You can listen to a podcast, learn a new skill, read a book, read the articles you’ve bookmarked, plan the rest of your day, or better still take a productive pause to clear your mind. You can cut back on other low-value activities (responding to social media distractions) to make time for learning. I make time for personal growth by making time.
Spend most of your free time learning. Make the most of every little spare time to get better everyday. “It’s not the big things that add up in the end; it’s the hundreds, thousands, or millions of little things that separate the ordinary from the extraordinary, says Darren Hardy,” author of The Compound Effect . Extraordinary people don’t manage time, they make time for what’s important. Make time for yourself. Darren lays out a simple formula in the first chapter of his book: Small, Smart Choices + Consistency + Time = RADICAL DIFFERENCE. According to Darren, “Small, seemingly insignificant steps completed consistently over time will create a radical difference” in your life and put you on the road to the career success you want and deserve.
You don’t need a radical process to grow or become your best self. The small choices you make daily matters. Creating a career development plan with goals and objectives; and then work toward accomplishing these at a comfortable pace, bearing in mind what you accomplished yesterday. Take charge of your life. If you’re unsatisfied with the present, do something different that will improve your odds of success. Stop giving a f*ck about everything you are not and start living! Your life will significantly improve if you care less about what you are not, and care more about becoming the best version of yourself.