How to stop comparing yourself to friends and coworkers

On a regular old day, you’re plugging along, attending to the work tasks in front of you.  Maybe you’re plotting out what assignments are coming up.  Maybe you’re engrossed in a project with a tight deadline.  Either way, you’re feeling good, generally speaking, about your work, your career decisions and progress.

And then you do it.

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You compare yourself to a friend or colleague who has more influence, “juice”, salary or [fill in the blank] than you.  And now you feel like a low life.

For most of us, it’s tempting to compare ourselves to others.  In doing so, we might glean a new way to approach our work.  We may be inspired to take a risk like our counterpart has done.  But for the most part, comparison doesn’t leave women feeling good.  It usually robs us of any gift we’ve ever felt slightly good about.  The comparisons that we get hooked on—and that leaving us feeling crappy—are energy vampires that we can’t afford to indulge.

Consider these alternatives the next time you’re tempted to compare yourself to someone:

Repeat “They have their story, I have mine…”

Blogger Justin Zoradi offers up this brilliant bit of advice, something that I’ve personally called upon many times.  Our lives don’t progress like swim lanes at the Olympics, where we’re competing against others on a clock—and only one winner can emerge.  Our lives bob, weave, and zigzag at different rates.  In realizing this, comparing yourself to others seems a) impossible to do, and b) ridiculous!

Take a strengths-based approach

Often we undervalue what we bring to the table and overvalue what someone else brings.  I propose a different model of operating where we as women identify, hone, and recognize the value and expertise we have.  Keep an ongoing log of accolades you’ve received, successful projects you’ve led, and top honors you’ve garnered.  Be a student of this list—so that you can turn those strengths into superpowers.  An extra bonus: you will be in a far better position to negotiate a deal or raise when you’ve have this log of contributions at your fingertips.

Include, rather than judge and compare

Sometimes when I’m most envious of someone else’s success, I realize that at the heart of that feeling is respect and admiration.  I may admire the chance someone took on their idea, their gumption to launch a new product or their success at attracting a certain type of client.  Next time you feel lacking next to someone else, think about how you could learn from them.  Invite them to coffee or send them a short email.  Explain that you admire their ability to [fill in the blank] and that you’d love to learn how they honed their skills.  Just as you want to be recognized for your unique talents, others do as well.

Last time I checked, no one wants to feel belittled or minimized.  But that’s exactly what results when you regularly compare yourself to others.  As the French proverb says, “To compare is not to prove.”

This article originally appeared on Be Leaderly.

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