We all compare ourselves to our peers, even if it is not out of envy or jealousy. But as you face critical turning points in your career journey, the comparisons might become more frequent. Maybe you noticed that you were the last of your friends to find a job after graduation or you feel like your resume is not as impressive as your roommate’s.
Regardless of how natural it may feel, it is not productive or beneficial to compare and contrast your accomplishments with others. Here are a few reasons why.
Comparison lowers your confidence
The amount of confidence you have in your career directly affects how you feel about yourself. If you don’t feel that you’re meeting expectations, you’re going to feel less self-assured. If these expectations revolve around other people’s accomplishments, you’re setting yourself up to have a negative outlook on your career and achievements
Let’s say you scroll through Facebook and see that a friend announced that she received an award for her work. If you haven’t been publicly recognized for your accomplishments in the office, you might feel a twinge of jealousy that lingers long after your close the tab.
We’re all familiar with this feeling and we know how awful it is.While it’s human to feel envious in the moment, it’s not fair or healthy to put yourself down because you don’t have the same accomplishments as someone else. If you continue to set expectations for yourself based on other people’s career milestones, your self-confidence will inevitably decrease, because there will always be people who seem more successful than you.
For your sake, make personal, achievable goals for yourself so you can keep your expectations separate from what you see others achieve. Talk to your boss about growth opportunities within your position or take on something new that you’re passionate about.
There are numerous ways to measure success
There are a lot of different ways to measure success within your career that are not related to climbing the career ladder or earning a bigger salary.
Maybe you didn’t get the raise you were hoping for, but you are receiving fewer edits on your rough drafts. That’s still an achievement that deserves recognition. The small victories may not be obvious to your social media network or fellow coworkers, but if they are important to you and make you feel accomplished, you’re on the right track.
When you work five days and 40 hours a week, it is easy to lose track of goals and accomplishments that are not directly related to career advancement. Success in our personal lives have just as much value as our career achievements, but we often forget to credit ourselves for them.
Pat yourself on the back if you’ve been proactive about your health this year or celebrate the fact that you have an amazing group of friends. You will feel better about yourself in the long run if you pay attention to the triumphs you make in every aspect of your life.
Things may not be as they appear
If you use social media, you’ve probably made assumptions about another person’s career from their online profiles. We all know that one friend who seems to have the perfect job, perfect life and coolest friends. But how accurate is your perception of your friend’s accomplishments?
Most likely, your perceptions are misguided and there’s a big chance you’re critiquing yourself unfairly in comparison. According to author, John Becker, since the only reality we truly know is our own, we have a tendency to compare “the worst of what we know about ourselves to the best assumptions that we make about others”.
Likewise, people only share what they want other people to see in order to tailor these assumptions. Your Facebook friends aren’t posting about how many times they were rejected before they landed their dream job. That friend who has your ideal position probably isn’t publicizing the things she dislikes about her job.
In conclusion, stop minimizing your success in comparison to the perceived success of others. And remember, while you may be hyper-critical of yourself, you may be surprised at how many people feel envious of what you’ve achieved.
None of us will follow the exact same career path and there’s more than one way to reach your goals, so instead of worrying about how you measure up to everyone else, appreciate your personal achievements and the things that make your career journey unique.
To read more about millennials, check out our First 5 series.