The Seven Deadly Sins of the Solopreneur Series: Conquering Deadly Sin #6: Outsmarting Intrapersonal & Interpersonal Comparisonitis

As 2018 winds down, you’re reflecting on your accomplishments and comparing them to your stated personal and business goals for the year. While you know it’s best to stay positive as you review the wins and struggles this year has presented, if you’re like most solopreneurs, comparing your goals to your accomplishments begins to stir up a cloud of self-criticism, where you minimize the wins and progress you’ve made while magnifying the mistakes and struggles you’ve had over the past four quarters.

If you dwell in this distorted place too long, your year-in-review assessment devolves into the intra-comparisonitis affliction of “I should have done more, achieved more, be farther along than I am now” blues.

You know what I mean…

  • I know I made more money this year than I have ever before, but I still failed to meet my revenue goal this year. Big F failed.

  • I promised myself I would stop feeling weird about having money conversations with my clients, but it’s still hard. I’m just not good at this business stuff.

  • I’ve been in business for awhile. I should know there is a natural ebb and flow to my practice and not feel freaked out if my caseload gets a little light.

  • I was supposed to launch my YouTube channel this year, but clearly that didn’t happen!

  • I set a goal of volunteering at my kids’ school once a month, and I actually spent twice as much time there. While that’s great, I could do better. I should have made an effort to be there every week.

Comparing your true accomplishments to unrealistic goals or to a constantly moving target is a recipe for intrapersonal (your between-the-ears relationship) misery. But the comparison party has yet another phase. That negative self-talk cloud can mushroom into a bad case of interpersonal comparisonitis—that dark pit where you further diminish your own accomplishments by comparing yourself unfavorably to other colleagues in your field—despite how many goals you’ve actually achieved.

Do any of these statements sound familiar?

  • She has more clients/better clients than I.

  • He just works smarter than I do.

  • He is a better writer than I am.

  • I wish I could work the kind of hours she does, but I can’t

  • He has a natural knack for business and has it all together.

  • She can afford to take time off, but I can’t.

  • Of course she can charge more for her services. She’s got certifications I don’t have.

  • He is just naturally better at holding his clients accountable than I am.

Comparisonitis can leave you feeling defeated and compromise your business’ health because it feeds that universal core negative belief: “I am not good enough.”

You don’t have to succumb to comparisonitis. Try these ideas to combat comparisonitis in your business:

  1. Stop grading your own papers, and hand the red pen to your favorite teacher. Remember your favorite teacher from school? Chances are, you’ll never forget her because she inspired you to do better than you thought you could. He saw something in you that you couldn't see in yourself at the time. She didn’t allow you to beat up on yourself but encouraged you to learn from mistakes and transform them into success. He never let you coast. He expected great things--and got them from you--because he knew you had it in you. As you assess your performance this year, see your performance through the eyes of your favorite teacher. Imagine this teacher, assessing your progress. Hear your teacher’s encouraging words and intolerance for your self-deprecation. Take in the feedback the teacher would give you about areas to improve. Remember how that teacher made you feel about yourself. Seeing your progress from this teacher’s eyes can give you a much more encouraging and useful perspective that helps you plan future goals for 2019 from a place of self-efficacy and strength.

  2. Realize that when you compare yourself to others, you are comparing your perception of others’ successes to your skewed view of your accomplishments. Comparing yourself to others is a lot like looking in a fun house mirror and assuming it is how you truly look. That colleague you admire may have the exact same struggles you do. He may be better at hiding his flaws. She may have struggled with the same issue in the past but found a way to work through it. Even the most successful people in your field have head trash. Don’t believe me? Find a few colleagues you admire, know, and trust who are willing to be open with you about their struggles. What freaks them out in their business? What goals do they struggle with? If they are able to be honest, you may be shocked. Don’t be surprised if they offer an unexpected and unsolicited compliment to you about what they admire about you. Seriously, just having this conversation with one trusted colleague can help you see just how distorted your view of self and others can get.

  3. Look to others for true inspiration. There are many amazing people out there with fantastic service-based businesses. Look to them, not to berate yourself but only for inspiration. Look both inside and outside your industry. Look for people that make you want to shout (at least loudly in your head,) “If he can do it, I can do it!”

“Set your life on fire.

Seek those who fan your flames.”

-Rumi

Remember…

  1. Everyone struggles with some things, but most of your colleagues don’t go around advertising their struggles. If they are in business for themselves, they have their own head trash and self limiting beliefs.

  2. A mean coach impedes his players’ performances, but an encouraging coach brings out the best in everyone. Ditch the mean coach mentality and adopt a positive coach position.

  3. If a goal has ever been achieved in business, it can be done. And if you want to achieve it, you can do it, too!

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