How do you Measure success? Hint: Comparisionitis is NOT the answer!

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.”

Etc.

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:

Start by doing what is necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible (Tweet this out!).

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.

 

Conclusion

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!

And if you are still struggling with this new idea of success, run over to my blog about success quotes or read about the formula for success.  This is all written with you in mind!

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.

10 Comments

  1. Thank you for your blog. I’ve had such a productive year, yet I feel that I want so much more growth… so much faster. Thank you for the reminder to respect and enjoy the journey. Much love

  2. I don’t worry about success. My question what every choice i make “Am I happy with it”…Coffee is on

  3. Hmmmm, I do compare myself to others sometimes.
    I need to stop!

  4. What you wrote here is key: “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.” That’s the thing. We can look at someone or something else and be amazed, but we don’t know that they spent many years and had many struggles to get to that point. We might just be at the beginning, but we’re judging based on where someone else is way down the road. And,yes, you’re you. Your success and your journey is totally unique to you.

  5. Hoo Yeah, the comparing game is a dangerous one to play. I hear it all the time “How comes you get this and I don’t. I’m a better blogger than you” and variations of that. Simply put the only person you have to compete with is yourself, and the only person you have to beat is yourself. Comparisons rarely give the full picture and just make you feel inadequate.

  6. Excellent post Victoria!

    I really enjoyed reading it! And extremely well written as well! I love your
    story BTW about making your dress. I’m sure we can all relate on some level.

    Because who hasn’t read or heard about someone else’s success in our exact same
    niche and scratched their head thought, how come their results are different than mine?

    Or how come marketer X has a list three times as big as mine but I’ve actually done more X!LOL!

    Yea. as you pointed out ” comparisonitis is definitely not the answer!

    And I love and do practice your sage advice about setting the bar a little lower initially and
    gradually increasing it.

    That’s great advice! I’ll definitely be sharing this one! Thanks for writing such an inspiring and
    empowering post!

  7. Yes, love it!

    Success, is within our lifetime journey It will not ever end until we ascend. May we all learn this early, enough to accept the changes you volunteer to take. Then, stop looking back and side to side. You have found your core passion and learn that one powerful talent. Which, has pushed you through your life. It is reflected each time you take on, a challenge. Mine, would be resourcefulness. This has been notices by vast mounts of people. One whom I appreciate, my only older, smart sister, Drenna. I noticed, this quality or trait popping up each day. Not only, to resolve my issues, yet others.

    This is what stuck out, for me in this amazing share of yours. I love your site and would not stop visiting it! I just started to learn, about you. I feel confident, that you are growing at a highly favored rate. Keep on sharing, these quality, usable things. We all benefit from people, such as yourself.

    Hey, just remembering the only needs are a roof over our heads. Food and water in our bodies. The rest of the stuff is call “Felt Needs”. So, success is achieving those strategic steps. That manifest your vision of your future, in advance from you executing focused, physical activities. I love the analogy of Athletes, prior to their challenges. They visualize, every action needed prior, to taking physical, focused action. We do the same and get lost. When allowing negativity, by over thinking it. Just when we realize. This is a natural process!

    Time to return to the basics, yes?

  8. I love your strategy, Victoria, because I am used to measure my success in numbers (marks from school), and that is at time devastating, provided that all numbers go naturally up and down. Merci ! 😉
    J’Ouellette® (@FrenchOnSkype) recently posted…You will not like thisMy Profile

  9. Beautifully said!, I always want to be in the future -a step ahead from where I am, not the present. I realize that success is a journey that we take and one reaches the destination by taking one step at a time.
    Siphosith recently posted…Overcome Obstacles Created by Your Self-Limiting BeliefsMy Profile

  10. Victoria, You have given some fantastic advice! Comparing your success to others is a exercise in frustration and negativity. I believe like you that you need to set your own standards for success and honor the progress you have made and the accomplishments you have achieved so that you can stay positive and keep moving forward with making your dreams and goals a reality.
    Shelley Alexander recently posted…18 Delectable Recipes for Hot Chocolate and Homemade Hot Cocoa MixesMy Profile

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