Why We Must Avoid Comparing Ourselves to Others

I thought it might be fun to start the New Year by sharing our writing accomplishments from last year. I’d go first, and you could add yours in the comment section.

Just as quickly I realized that was a bad idea.

We are all at different points with our writing, having different goals and expectations, which produces different points of celebration and despair.

One writer may be ecstatic for having published her first article, only to be discouraged by someone who published his first book, who may likewise be discouraged by someone who published two best-sellers and had a prior book turned into a movie. No matter how successful we are, there will always be someone who is more successful.

Conversely, no matter how much we struggled to reach even the tiniest of achievements, someone else struggled even more and realized less.

When we compare ourselves to others, we always lose.

If we look at an author who achieved more, we risk lessening our progress and becoming discouraged with our journey; even worse, we may become envious of her. In extreme cases, we stop writing and abandon our dreams.

If we look at an author who achieved less, we risk elevating our successes, even inflating our egos. We may look down at the other author, act with condescension, and even pity him.

Comparing ourselves with others is never a good idea. We should even avoid comparing ourselves with our past. Maybe we had a rough year; when compared to the prior year, we judge ourselves lacking. Or perhaps we had an extraordinary year, one that will not likely repeat; by comparison next year is sure to disappoint.

We should skip all forms of comparison and ask ourselves two essential questions:

  1. Did I produce the best work I possibly could?
  2. Did I do all I reasonably could to share it with others?

If we answer “yes” to both questions, we should be content with our writing, regardless of how others did.

What do you think? Please leave a comment!