Race Day at Angel IslandI am involved with a group of women who committed 90 days to our health. We created our goals for the ninety days around fitness, nutrition, meditation and overall wellness. We committed to ourselves and to support each other. A Facebook page keeps us connected since we all live in different states and we have a weekly phone call to discuss our celebrations and challenges. This group has been amazing in total commitment to self and others. The group keeps us accountable to our desired objectives and provides the added motivation and empowerment when we may be lacking it on our own volition. The topic of “comparison” came up this morning on our call. As I contemplated “comparison” in our group context, I also thought about it in the everyday realm – how it impacts us, if we let it, and how we can keep it at bay.

Comparison is the quickest killer of motivation – it chokes it off and leaves us to languish in inadequacy. An effective technique to stave off comparison is to remind yourself that the person you are comparing yourself to also had to start at the beginning. At one point in time, she stood in your shoes and had to figure it out, overcome her own mind chatter, dig deep and commit to take action to excel at her desired goal. She got to the place you want to get to by dedicated action. If you want to get there, you have to take that action, too. You cannot cut corners and wish yourself to the finish line of mastery. You have to do the work, believe in yourself, develop a success mindset and take action every day towards your goal. Start by shifting your mindset. Instead of feeling small by comparison, honor her for her success – she’s earned it! This shift will empower you which will lead to excitement towards the goal rather than the defeating attitude of comparison, which can take you out of the game before you even reach the starting line.

For those of you on the front end of fitness or any goal, don’t compare yourself to those who have been in the trenches and doing it for years, maybe decades. Instead, learn from those who have succeeded and let them be an honored role model. Engage the role model in conversation and find out how she moved from novice to expert. Most experts want to share their knowledge. Remember, there was a day when that athlete couldn’t do 10 pushups or run a 1/4 of a mile and now she’s running marathons.

You can learn something new at any stage of life. In fact, learning something new on a regular basis helps you get more comfortable playing the role of a learner/student. From my experience, when you seek new activities, you start comparing less and appreciate the fact that you are learning something new. I took my first art class 3 years ago, scared to death and feeling totally inadequate. Now, I take classes all the time and am excited to learn and embrace the other students and teachers. I recognize I’m on the front end and look at what I could grow into, if I choose to.

It sounds cliché, but it’s true: we each have our own path. Don’t compare your path to someone else’s path. Allow your journey to be unique, embrace the learning curve and share your expertise. We each have skills to develop and those we can share. It’s the circle of life. Carpe Diem!