One of the major themes that comes up during coaching sessions with other entrepreneurs is that of success. My clients often want to know “how do you measure success” and/or “how do you become successful”. I always tell them that the answer, of course, is always up to you, the entrepreneur or undertaker.
Truth is that measuring success is not quite the black & white process we wish it would be. So when my clients answer this question for themselves during our coaching sessions, they would always, inevitably compare themselves to other successful entrepreneurs.
“I’m not doing this right and he/she is.”
“My website sucks and his/hers is the bombdotcom (literally).”
“His/her life looks like it’s all in order, I’m such a mess.”
Does this look, sound, and feel like you?
Do you often ask yourself “how do you measure success?” and find yourself beating yourself up over not being able to live up to the standards other people have set?
Let me guess: then, after beating yourself up, you experience incredible resistance and lack of productivity. Consequently, you beat yourself up again, but this time over not being productive. And there you are, caught in a vicious cycle of “I’m not good enough” because you compare yourself to others, and because you don’t do what needs to get done.
It’s quite the conundrum, isn’t it? It really is no surprise you are not moving forward in the direction of your goals.
Story time: How I went from “proud seamstress in training” to “worst seamstress ever” in less than a fraction of a second.
If you’ve read my about page then you already know that I take Fashion Design classes at one of the Art Institutes. Making clothes has been something I have been interested in since I was young and I am very fortunate that I get to pursue this dream of mine now.
As a side note, you need to know that most people have NO idea about how much work the process of creating a garment entails. In fact, more often than not, people see Fashion Design for what the media wants us to see: the glam, the red carpet, the beautiful people; when in reality, Fashion Design is a creative process that involves a lot of hard but rewarding work.
The class I just completed was an advanced class in which I learned the process for creating a custom fitted dress. Truly a dream come true, as through this class I created a custom-fitted pattern (known as the basic sloper) that fit me and my body type perfectly. Mind you, when I say I was taking an advanced class I do it only because I haven’t taken the classes in order, which has contributed to some of the mistakes I make in the process.
Anyways, the final project for this class was to model a dress that you designed for the class. Well, with my brother’s graduation in Albuquerque, NM this last weekend, I didn’t have time to completely finish my final dress. Nonetheless, I was super proud of the progress I had made and how great the dress looked despite the setbacks.
That is until another student’s model walked in with a gorgeous, completely finished, open-back, white dress. In less than a fraction of a second I went from proud seamstress in training to worst seamstress ever.
Answer time: How do you measure success when the grass looks greener on the other side?
I shared my story with you because I wanted to illustrate the idea of accomplishments as a process that involves hard work and dedication. How you see this process, the end result, and the feedback you take, is what I would say answers our question: how do you measure success?
I also want you to know that I can totally relate when you feel bad about your accomplishments because someone else has set the bar high. Comparisionitis is a deadly disease that kills many dreams and confidence anywhere it goes.
Fortunately, I did learn a thing or two (ok, five things) that I want to share with you as a remedy for Comparisionitis.
1. Stay present
Truly the only way you will ever be able to keep yourself from comparing to others is by staying present. Do not, under any circumstance, entertain thoughts of failure. As I mentioned above, thoughts of failure will only take you on a landslide of other problems that will result in resistance.
Take a deep breath and ask yourself “what will I choose to focus on?”
2. Set your own standards for success
Be realistic about what you can accomplish. One of my clients loves freediving and can hold her breath for five minutes. To supplement her accomplishments, she has a wonderful nutritional plan to help her achieve the results she’s getting.
Realistically speaking, there is no way most people could hold their breath for five minutes anytime soon. Arriving at that success marker is the result of hard work and dedication.
Ask yourself, what small incremental step can I take on a daily basis that is realistic for me to accomplish? Can I hold my breath for a minute? Two minutes?
3. Set the bar low
Uh, excuse me? What?
Yes, set the bar low, and then challenge yourself. This is kind of a mind hack that works well for a lot of people because not everyone has learned to confidently go after and accomplish their goals.
I’m going to sum this up with a quote by St. Francis of Assisi:
When you set your bar high and you do not achieve the results you wanted you are likely to feel down about not accomplishing what you wanted. This could result in negative self talk and could potentially derail you from your commitment to achieve the results you desire.
When you set the bar low and you accomplish small tasks, you feel accomplished and want to do more. But that is exactly why it is important that, as you accomplish small tasks, you also push yourself to the next level. You will eventually be doing what you initially thought impossible.
4. Honor the progress you’ve made
Going back to my own example, it is way too easy to say/think/feel that my dress was an absolute horror compared to the other student’s. WAY TOO EASY. But I felt confident that, in the last three years that I have been sewing (I also taught myself how to sew) I have refined my craft exponentially. I may not be where I want to be just now, but I know that with small, incremental steps, and constant practice, I can, and will get there.
5. Comparisionitis begone!
That being said, if you are going to look up to someone else (say, perhaps a mentor) to accomplish more in your life, then don’t compare yourself to them. Period. Like, Ever. Why? Because, as I said above, any accomplishment is the result of hard work, dedication, and sometimes, yes, luck.
Your story is different and your perception of the world is unique. Comparing yourself to how others are only sets you up to fail because you do not know what this person has had to go through to achieve the results they have. Besides, you are not them, you can only be you.
In the end, how you measure success depends on how you want to work with you. Think of yourself as your own boss. When you work for somebody they train you in such a way that you will yield the best possible results. So as your very own boss, learn about your patterns and work with them in such a way that it allows you to get the work done in the most efficient way to become successful.
In the end, the most important thing you can do is to redefine success as a journey, not a destination. What do I mean by that? Think of success as incremental progress towards a desired goal!
Remember to share this article with others who may be in need of re-framing their definition of success! I am on a mission to help others create an epic mindset and I can’t do it without you.
And if you liked what you read, sign up to my newsletter below for future updates on success, productivity, and living the life of your dreams.