Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

Avoid the Comparison Trap and Run Your Own Race

This is Lesson 6 in our 10-part series on getting what you really want out of life. We’re talking goals, dreams, and calling — all stuff I love.

I’ve been sharing my story of not only becoming a writer but learning a lot of other lessons — like the importance of not comparing myself to others. “Run your own race” has become a bit of a mantra to me lately.

Run Your Own Race

Sidenote: if you’re enjoying this series, check out one of Michael Hyatt’s upcoming live trainings on goal-setting. He is the Grand Poobah of this stuff, and I’ve learned so much from him. Click here to see a list of dates and times.

Also, if you need to get caught up on this series, here are the previous lessons (including audio versions with some bonus material):

All right. On with the next one…

Note: To listen to the audio of this lesson, click the player below.


Lesson 6: Run your own race

The other day, I posted something snarky on Facebook:

“So how do you use social media without hating everyone?”

To be honest, I was just venting. I’m a pretty insecure person and can easily get jealous of what other people are doing. And I wanted to know if I was the only one who did that.

I received a lot of interesting responses.

One person told me to pray more. Another person told me to unfriend everyone. But one person said this:

Just remember that everyone deep down just wants to feel loved and important. Anything you see stems from that.

I loved that, because that’s what I want. To feel loved and important. And usually, I feel pretty good about my life — my goals, my dreams, my accomplishments — until I see someone doing better than me.

I know not everyone is this way, but I am. It’s a sickness, I think — this fear of missing out, the comparison trap we often find ourselves in.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Sure, ignoring people helps some of the time. But sometimes, it’s just hard to ignore everyone all the time.

About a year ago, I learned a crucial lesson. I was drowning in stress and overcome with resentment about my situation. On the outside, I looked like I was winning: I had a seven-figure business, a bestselling book, and hundreds of thousands of fans. But inside, I was miserable.

All I could think about was what I wasn’t doing. What I wasn’t achieving. What I had to yet to do. And it was eating me up inside.

A number of people helped me get out of that funk, and I detail all of it here in this article.

I am now a lot healthier and happier. But I can still drift into the comparison mode and find myself not enjoying what I’m doing.

There’s one simple phrase that I’ve held onto all this time. It was given to me by a friend who was desperately trying to beat everyone around him in a marathon (like, a literal marathon), and one of the people he was running beside shouted at him:

Run your own race.

That’s become a sort of mantra for me. I don’t have to compare myself to other people, because we are all playing different games. That’s the fun part. We get to choose the games we play, the crafts we want to master.

When I hear a friend sharing about his biggest month ever, I can quietly tell myself: “Run your own race.”

When I see someone’s highlight reel on Facebook, I don’t have to be mad or assume they’re lying. I can just remind myself that this is not my life. What someone else is doing has no bearing on what I do. That’s their race. I need to run my own.

And when I worry about not doing enough and really not being enough, I can quietly say to myself:

This is your race. Run it well.

Because, really, that’s what we all want, isn’t it? To do the thing that only we can do — and to do it well.

So if you struggle with comparison and jealousy as I do, let me say to you:

There’s really nothing else for you to do. Cover bands don’t change the world, as my friend Todd Henry likes to say. And you won’t change anything trying to be someone else.

Let me say that again:

You won’t change anything trying to be someone else.

Run your own race.

See you at the finish line.

How do you run your own race well? You start by setting smarter goals. Learn how to do that in this free live training Michael Hyatt is hosting.

Where are you at in your race? How can you run better in the New Year? Share in the comments.

About Jeff Goins

I am the best-selling author of five books, including the national bestsellers The Art of Work and Real Artists Don't Starve. Each week, I send out a free newsletter with my best tips on writing, publishing, and helping your creative work succeed.

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