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A Surefire Way to Failure


It can be so easy to get distracted from our goals these days. The ever-present temptations of binge watching your favorite TV show, video games, sports, news, the latest celebrity gossip, the list goes on and on. One of the quickest and most successful ways to distraction though is in comparing ourselves to others. We all do it from time to time. Who’s at the top of the leaderboard? Who has the fastest car? Who has the biggest TV? And my personal favorite recently: who is the busiest, most stressed or has the biggest problems? Sometimes I think it’s a miracle anything gets done! But in this kind of world one thing I know is that the best way to fail is to spend your energies comparing yourself to those around you and picking some else’s path instead of creating your own.

I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody. Bill Cosby

When we spend too much time worrying about the thoughts and opinions of others we lose sight of that which is important to us and fall in to a world not determined by ourselves. We stress ourselves out by worrying about what others think with our every step. This not only impedes our happiness and growth as individuals but holds us back from reaching our goals and adds unnecessary stress to our lives. Spending time “keeping up with the Joneses” leads to a mindset full of unnecessary spending, stress, and time sinks.

The end result of this way of life would be a world full of identical people and I for one would not want to live in that kind of world. Instead, I say we encourage not only ourselves but those around us to be more comfortable with who we are or want to become. There are so many ways we can cultivate this kind of change in our approach when interacting with others:

1. Encourage instead of debate with others about their goals. Instead of listing all of the ways in which an idea isn’t going to work or shouldn’t be done, talk it through with them. Allow the conversation to be two-sided instead of one and offer encouragement or practical advice instead of negativity or debate. Most importantly, be ok with the fact that some else’s goals aren’t the same as yours.

2. Be comfortable disagreeing - especially over matters of opinion. If someone’s favorite color is purple, why does that have any impact on your favorite color being blue? If someone doesn’t like a certain food or a certain sport, how does that have any impact on your enjoyment? Don’t let it. And don’t waste time arguing the matter. Don’t allow other’s opinions of your interests and preferences to have an impact on them. It can be just as easy to find someone who agrees with you as someone who disagrees with you.

3. Be comfortable with who you are but allow room for growth. The other side of this coin of course is getting stuck in a rut because we “know who we are”. Allow flexibility. Allow yourself the chance to learn or experience something new. In short, don’t get too comfortable.

When you are content to be simply yourself and don't compare or compete, everybody will respect you. Lao Tzu

It’s amazing to me how much money I see being spent because of an almost compulsive need to have the biggest TV, wear the latest fashions, drive the newest car, etc. Instead of worrying about all this, focus your time and efforts on that which matter to you and don’t worry as much about having the latest and greatest purely because it’s the latest and greatest. When your precious resources are more focused on that which matter to you you’ll have more left over to spend on paying down debt, building up an emergency fund or even an investment or two. So what are your passions in life? How do you want to spend your time? What is your path? And how can you help those you care about to find theirs?

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. E.E. Cummings

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