I found a picture online recently and it reassured me so much… I’ve gone back to it a lot and finally thought that maybe others would find it encouraging.
I think people that work for themselves often compare themselves to others. And, actually, it’s not just people that work for themselves. It’s most people. We try not to – rationally we know that it’s unwise, and it’s destructive – but we do it anyway. We see others in our field who appear to be so far ahead of where we are: they’re better organised; their photography is better; they appear to be growing faster than you; they’re being given opportunities you wish would come your way… all of which makes you believe that you are somehow fundamentally lacking.
But, listen – it’s not true.
First: let’s stop comparing ourselves. Let’s just stop. It will never, ever make us feel better about ourselves (or our business). There is only one you – you are literally one in 7.349 billion. That makes you incomparable.
Second: let’s give ourselves a break. You are treading your own path. If there are 7.349 billion people, there are 7.349 billion paths. Yours may have been wonkier than you anticipated, but you’re on it and it is going somewhere. Don’t look at anyone else’s – we don’t see what’s going in behind the scenes for anyone else; we just see the edited, shiny-haired veneer.
Third: you haven’t missed your chance, or your opportunity. I don’t think it matters if we take one-step-forwards-two-steps-back sometimes… as long as we keep taking steps. And those two steps back are rarely a waste of time. They are horribly, horribly frustrating but, if we take a minute, there really is always a lesson in there that will help us in the long run.
I know am not saying anything ground-breaking here, I really do. But this is something I’ve been grappling with a lot recently – I almost came to a standstill because of it – and I wanted to share it with anyone else who’s struggling. So if you have been, please, take the rest of the night off. Do something that gives you joy. Crochet something; watch a movie; have a hot bath; bake something gooey; go look at the stars; get an early night… anything that gives you a little space to breathe.
And then breathe. In an out, very slowly. And consciously think about, wherever you are on your path, how wonderful your business is.
It isn’t less than anyone else’s, and neither are you.