You open your computer, coffee in hand, all pumped and excited to start the day. You’re happily skimming through social media feeds, getting caught up on the necessary and not-so-necessary stuff that went down while you were snoozing.
And then, out of nowhere, you’re overcome with a feeling of envy, exasperation, and bummed-out-ness.
Why? Because you just saw on Instagram that another brand, one you think is pretty in-line with where your brand is, has hit another milestone. They scored a new wholesale account, launched an incredible new website, got that celebrity placement, or landed in your favorite piece of press. Or worse, all of those things. In the same week.
You know it’s great for them, and you want to shake it off, but you can’t make this stupid voice in your head shut up. The one that keeps asking why this isn’t happening for you. You don’t understand what you’re doing wrong.
This feeling sucks.
We all experience this. Regardless of how collaborative we are, regardless of how we act, this experience never feels good.
When we see our contemporaries moving at what seems like light-speed, there is a part of each one of us that starts comparing ourselves and our businesses to them and their businesses.
We wonder why we can’t seem to find the same successes. We wonder if we ever will.
It’s no good. We are making ourselves feel inadequate. Inadequate.
And then, we feel bad about feeling this way.
So now we’re all rolled up in feelings of inadequacy, envy, and guilt. What a freaking mess.
I’m not sure if we, as business owners, ever fully get past this. We pour ourselves into our businesses and want so badly to make them work, to make them thrive, that it’s hard to just turn this natural reaction off. Even years into running my business, I still have to tackle these feelings sometimes. I don’t think it will ever fully go away.
But I do think that as we grow, we get better at dealing with these feelings. I’ve learned a few things about this topic:
It’s OK to feel envious.
It’s not fun. But it doesn’t make us horrible people. So, let’s just cross the “guilt” feeling off the list. It’s not necessary.
Next, when we find ourselves comparing where we are to where someone else is, and that leads us to feeling envious of where they are, and really damn curious about why we’re not there yet, we need to take a look at how they got there.
Start by acknowledging what you’re feeling and take the time to stop and ask yourself “Why?”
When you have the answer “I want to be in that magazine,” or “I’ve been courting and pitching that store for months,” you’re able to see things clearly.
You now have an action step for yourself.
You want to be in that magazine? What are you going to do about it? Start reading past issues, follow the contributing editor on Twitter and Instagram, start sharing and engaging with them on social (not pitching!), spend an afternoon brainstorming possible story angles to pitch, etc. Now you have a damn plan.
Or maybe your plan involves reviewing your buyer pitch. Why isn’t the buyer responding to me after all these months? What could I do differently to get their attention?
The point is you can turn these feelings of envy and this constant comparison into positive action.
If we’re honest with ourselves, there’s a good chance that there’s room to learn something. There’s also a good chance that we’re actually well on our way to finding the success we want. It’s just harder to recognize it in ourselves because, with others, we only see the end result. We don’t see the time and effort it took to get there.
Lots of love and encouragement,