Managing Comparison When You're building a Business
Back in September last year (2018), I’d found myself signed off from work due to some struggles with my mental health at the time. With it being September, and what seems to have become launch season for a lot of online businesses owners, all I could see online was other people launching their next big thing, a new course, new branding, declaring that they were fully booked out. Cue, all of the comparison feels.
This all resulted in a bad case of comparisonitis.
There I was, with my hands tied, feeling helpless, because I figured if I was signed off work, that meant I needed a complete break from everything, side-hustle and all, while it felt like everyone else out there was killing it.
Another time I struggled with comparison was after leaving my 9-5 to take my side-hustle full time. I was well outside of my comfort zone and trying to get out of a confidence crisis. Everything was new and felt uncertain, while everyone else seemed to be steaming ahead with their online businesses.
Comparison seems to kick in when we’re already a little down, when we’ve taken a knock to our confidence or we’re doing something new. Talk about rubbing salt in the wound right!
As I wrote this post, I got to thinking, why do we experience comparison? What purpose does it fulfil? I guess that, back in the days when us humans lived in caves with no social media, and our pack / tribe / community was central to our survival we would have had to know where we stood in the hierarchy. We would have looked to each other to learn about what behaviours were rewarded. It makes sense that observing others would once have been pretty central to our survival. But now this is a survival mechanism that’s not serving us in the same way. So, how can we start to beat back comparison so that we can get back to creating and doing our best work again?
If you’re struggling with comparison right now, here are a few steps you can take to start working through it
Shut out the noise
Go through all of the content you’re consuming and shut down the noise that’s triggering your comparison, even if it’s just for a couple of weeks while you get past this latest bout of comparisonitis.
Instagram is a great place to connect and find inspiration but unfortunately it can also be a huge trigger for comparison. Unfollow, mute or defriend anyone who’s triggering your comparison feels. Again, this doesn’t have to be forever, just until you’re over that comparison hurdle. Un-subscribe to emails, stop reading blogs or listening to podcasts that are making you feel negative about your work. And, if it helps, replace that business content that’s triggering your comparison with totally un-related non-business content, perhaps get a fresh novel on the go and use that as a distraction to push the negative noise out of your head.
Double down on your own work
The answer to getting past the comparison you’re feeling is inside you, not outside. Go back to your values, your why, your mission and remind yourself about where you bring value and what makes your business unique.
Create a brand document and get all of this information saved down so you’ve got a handy reference guide to refer to when comparison strikes. Use this document as a reminder of where your focus needs to be and what the big picture of your business looks like. And take action by perhaps updating your about page, or creating an instagram post to communicate one of your values.
Celebrate other people’s wins
Replace the negative comparison vibes with some more positive ones. Send a DM, or email to someone who’s just launched a new product and congratulate them, hit reply on the newsletters that spark an idea of that you simply enjoy reading. Review your favourite podcasts and comment on Instagram posts with supportive comments. Sometimes supporting others can remind us that we’re not all in competition and that, in fact a rising tide lifts all boats, that is to say, alot of that support you offer to others will come right back round to you.
I’ve found that comparison comes in waves, it’s not something that ever completely goes away but using the simple tools above you can start to take control and work through those feelings of comparison rather than letting them take control of your mood and progress with your business.