Keeping it real here. This post is basically my story over the last few weeks…
If you're reading this, I imagine you are interested in learning how to be successful online. And if you're like me, you forget that "successful" is relative. Why does it matter? Because I'm not trying to achieve what "he" or "she" or "them" or "you" are trying to achieve. I need to do my own thing.
Lately I've felt like I'm drowning. I can't seem to keep up, things are falling through the cracks and my to-do list only seems to be lengthening, never mind getting done.
Being the introspective (read: navel-gazing) person I am, I've spent a fair amount of energy reflecting on this can't-catch-my-breath feeling.
My conclusion? I have absolutely mastered a skill that I wish I never knew in the first place: comparing myself to others.
Comparing myself to others is killing me. Why?
1. It Kills My Perspective
What we see online is largely not real. Now I'm not suggesting people we encounter online aren't real people or that they are all fakes. What I am saying, though, is that we never get a complete picture of someone online. We are all able to show what we want and hide what we don't want others to see.
Consequently, when I start comparing my blog (and myself) to others, 9 times out of 10, I fall short — hopelessly short. ("I wish I could write like so-and-so or I wish I had that kind of traffic or those opportunities or had those photography skills, etc.")
I do believe there is such a thing as healthy competition. But you know competition is healthy when you are left feeling empowered, invigorated and excited to try something new. You know it's unhealthy when you're left feeling resentful, bitter, envious or like a failure.
2. It Kills My Purpose
There is not a single person on this earth like me. (And there's not a single person on this earth like you.) If I spend my time trying to be someone else, it's a waste of me.
I often catch myself trying to emulate what I see others do or on the flip side, not trying something because I haven't seen anyone else try it in the past.
I've also had to stop and review what I'm trying to do online in the first place. What really is my purpose here? I started out with the idea that I would supplement our income so I could preserve my freedom to stay home with my kids and pour into them. Somewhere along the line, though, it seems that got flipped around. Many days, as I'm shushing them and telling them to "hold on a minute" I realize it looks a whole lot more like my blog is my focus and my children are secondary.
3. It Kills My Productivity
I can't tell you the hours of my life I've wasted trying to "keep up" with the rest of the bloggers in the world. Whether it's posting, tweeting, facebooking, networking, commenting, building traffic, etc. etc., there always seems to be more I should be doing to "stay ahead of the curve."
If one thing's true, it's that the internet can be a colossal time-suck. Trying to keep up with "The Joneses" among the dozen or so families in your neighborhood or community is one thing. No wonder I have no time left to actually accomplish anything when there are hundreds or thousands of bloggers I falsely convince myself I've got to keep tabs on.
4. It Kills My Posts
I hate writing. Many people are surprised to learn that, but it's completely true. To me, publishing one post is quite an agonizing process. I'm much more of a math girl — I like to have the formula, plug it in, get an answer, done. Writing is too subjective, too variable, too nebulous. I never know when it's done.
So, as difficult as posting is to begin with, you can imagine what it's like when I throw in a good dose of "I wish I was like them" into the mix. Near torture.
- I'm cutting down on my computer time. Way down. The computer just makes me think I have more to do. And frankly, it makes me a bit crabby.
- I'm not posting as much. Instead of 5 times a week, I'm now shootin' for 1, maybe 2. I'm taking the quality over quality approach.
- I've chosen a couple projects I want to focus on — ones that align with my personal goals. I'm going to focus almost exclusively on those and let the rest fall away. I'm pretty sure no one will die. In fact, I'm pretty sure most will not even notice.
- I'm going to see more people in real life (IRL). Online friends are great, but I think I need to get out more. Of course, meeting my online friends IRL would be ideal.
- I'm making an effort to be tortoise-like (as opposed to hare-like). Slow, steady and stay the course.
I'm open to advice. Got any for me?