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  • James McNeil

Comparison; a motivation thief

Have you ever caught yourself comparing your life to someone else’s life? Or maybe you compared your skills to someone else’s? Did that ever empower you to achieve anything? It may have given you incentive, but did it actually empower you?

“I wish I could cook like Gordon Ramsay.”

“I wish I could write books like Stephen King.”

“I wish I could sing like Tim Foust.”

There are countless other examples I could give, but I give these three intentionally. These are all comparisons I have personally made. I love to cook. Cooking is therapy for me, so when I’m stressed, I can cook and feel much better. However, when something doesn’t go the way I think it should, it’s easy to start comparing myself to celebrity chefs who are so much better than I am.

Finding Your Personal Mission is my second published book, but it is far from my second attempt at publishing. I’ve started and abandoned so many projects because of the struggles I’d had. Then I look at someone like Stephen King (or other successful authors), and I see them churning out books often. It has made me wonder if I am really cut out to be an author.


I love to sing, and I’m a pretty decent singer. I’m not “tooting my own horn” here. I’ve been told I have a very good voice, and I’ve had people tell me on many occasions they enjoy it when I sing. However, I listen to Tim Foust, and I start to second guess myself. Tim is the bass singer for a group called Home Free. He is amazing, and so are his fellow singers in that group. Austin Brown redefines what a tenor voice should sound like, Rob Lundquist’s voice never ceases to amaze, and Adam Chance is impressing me more every time I hear him. In addition to all of these, Adam Rupp steals the show with his beatboxing skills. Then I listen to these amazingly talented people and think, “Can I really sing? Or am I deluding myself?”

These examples have one common thread, and it’s pretty easy to see. I am needlessly comparing myself to others. You might be wondering why it is so bad to compare yourself to others. I did for years. In fact, I thought I could use those comparisons to fuel my competitive edge. However, I did not understand what comparisons like that do.

Comparing yourself to other people will steal either your joy or your motivation. It could steal both.

You could be comparing strength to weakness. When you compare your strength to someone else’s weakness, you will lose your motivation. You look at what you’ve accomplished along side what the other person has accomplished, and you can easily start to feel as though you don’t need to do anything. After all, “I’m so much better than _____!” This kind of comparison brings pride, and this kind of pride can stop you from growing.

When you compare your weakness to someone else’s strength, you will lose your joy. You look at what they’ve accomplished in something you long to do, and you start to despair. This despair can also rob you of your motivation. Why try if you’ll never reach the levels they’ve achieved. I’ve always been fascinated by woodworking. Yet I have no skills in that regard. From time to time, I’ve considered the idea of exploring it and building a few things. Then I look at accomplished woodworkers and balk at that idea.

You could be comparing yourself to another person at different points in your journey. I look at Tim Foust and his amazing voice, and I can easily forget the training he’d been through to come to where he is now. I could be comparing myself at chapter one to him at chapter twenty. Is that a fair comparison? Likewise, I could compare myself at chapter twenty to someone just beginning their journey and lose motivation.

Finally, comparing ourselves to others also feeds impostor syndrome. When we believe that our self-worth is measured by how we stack up to other people, we are setting ourselves up for failure. After all, we could be comparing strength to weakness, and we could be comparing different points in each person’s journey.

If you find yourself comparing your life and your journey to others, take heart in the fact that you are not alone. Also I hope you are encouraged that you can stop comparisons in your life. For more information about this and other obstacles that can lead to suicidal thoughts and ideations, pick up your copy of Finding Your Personal Mission available on Amazon and Audible today!

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