Handle the Comparison Trap With This One Question

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” This quote by Theodore Roosevelt is one of my go-to reminders because I, probably like many of you, fall victim to the comparison trap somewhat often.

Here’s my scenario from this morning: I was in a good mood, going about my routine, checking social media…when photos of a gorgeous fitness model popped up in my feed as I scrolled through. You know, pictures that make you want to throw on a large parka and hat, stay hidden in the shadows, and never post a picture of yourself again? Well maybe that’s an exaggeration, but you get my point.

So in a matter of minutes, I realized I had a choice to make. Referring back to one of my takeaways from Unfu*k Yourself by Gary John Bishop, I asked myself, “Am I willing?” Because if we are going to compare ourselves to someone else, we will either be sad about it or DO something about it. If we are not willing to do what it takes, then be ok with it and move on. Stop comparing and go back to the happy mood you were in before the comparison trap snagged you! (In my case, I decided that no, I am not willing to drastically cut my calories and workout like it’s my full-time job. And let’s face it, there’s also metabolism, heredity, and other characteristics I can’t control.)

So I am NOT willing to go all in and change my life as a result of a few sad moments of comparison. But what I AM willing to do is be honest that my workouts have been more “going through the motions” than really going for my goals. And I AM willing to cut out that late night snacking habit that crept back in with college football season…the habit that would otherwise continue all the way through March Madness.

To summarize, when you find yourself on the sad end of the comparison trap…because at some point we all do…ask yourself what, if anything, you are willing to do about it. Don’t let that trap hold you! Either decide, “nah, I’m good,” and go on with your happy self, or decide what actions you are really willing to take to achieve YOUR realistic version of what you’re comparing yourself to.

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Stop Stressing Out About Work-Life Balance

I made a post on Instagram Saturday morning in which I said instead of work-life balance, we should have Work-life Awareness. (I don’t know if that’s a term anyone else uses yet, but I’m using it now. If it becomes a thing, I’m claiming it as my own.)

Anyways, I was making the point that “balance” doesn’t have to be taken literally. I mean if we took it literally we would spend 12 hours at work and 12 hours for ourselves, our friends, and our families. I hear people trying to achieve this balance of time and energy on work and personal and then stress out that they can’t achieve it.

I have to suppose that when the term “work-life balance” was first created, it was meant to remind people not to be workaholics and try to get ahead professionally at the expense of their health and their relationships. But over time, it seems to have become one more measure that people have added to their checklist of “if I do this I’m closer to perfection.”

I am proposing work-life awareness and measuring happiness instead of perfection (whatever THAT is.) If you’re ready to make the shift to work-life awareness, start by asking yourself two questions at the end of the day or week or whatever time period feels right for you:

1. Am I happy?

If you spend 80% of your time working and you LOVE your work, you’re probably happy. On the flip side, if you only gave about 20% of your time and energy working at a job that’s just a job and were freed up to be fully present with friends and family, you’re probably happy. Just be aware of that.

2. Will I regret these choices of how I spent my time a year from now? 5 years from now? 10 years from now?

Not to rain on the happiness parade, but ask this question because you may be happy today, but later you don’t want to either regret spending so much time in the job you love that you missed your kids’ milestones or regret not spending enough time working on a career and feel like you’ve missed your calling. Be aware of that too.

Whether you want to call it “work-life balance” or “work-life awareness” or any other term you coin, it’s really just semantics. But please, stop stressing out about it and find your sweet spot, your happiness, your zone…whatever you want to call it.

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