This is part of a five part series focused on reframing the conversation around competition and comparison among women. We recommend you start by reading Part One: Catfight!
In Part One of this series, we talked about how changing the conversation for women around competition and comparison starts by first, living more honestly. Here’s a recap of the five things we can do to reframe the conversation around competition.
Changing the Conversation Around Competition:
- One: Live More Honestly
- Two: Focus on Personal Goals
- Three: Check Yourself
- Four: Support Each Other
- Five: Speak Up and Out
Two: Focus on Personal Goals
We all have it. We’re all human.
Some of us are better at managing the little green monster than others, but for all of us, he shows up from time to time. Jealousy often rears its ugly head when we see a woman achieving the things that we want for ourselves. Then, jealousy invites his friends “self-doubt” and “comparison” to the party. It’s a recipe for disaster.
In those moments, we often put those women on the “opposite team”. They become the enemy, the adversary. They have what we want – they’ve achieved what we’re chasing, and as a result they are now a competitor. Herein lies the heart of the problem – so much of what makes competition unhealthy is that it revolves around trying to “beat” another woman.
The problem is, we don’t even know what she’s chasing.
In almost every scenario, we’re not playing the same game, we’re not chasing the same dream, and we’re not working for the same outcome. It may look and feel similar, but it’s not the same. We can remove the unhealthy competition when we focus on our goals – not the achievements of other woman. Our focus should be on how we “beat” who we were yesterday, last week, or last year.
Runners are a great example of a mindset where we focus on our personal goals – and not the success or advancement of others.
My love affair with running started over 10 years ago. I woke up one morning and decided I wanted to be a runner – no kidding. When I hit the streets the first time, it was agony. I could barely run a couple of blocks, let alone a couple of miles. Yet, every day, I’d hit the road and try to just run a little bit farther than I did the day before. Next thing I knew, I could run 3 miles. My goal then became, “How can I run 3 miles faster?” After that – how I could run longer races – a 10K, then a half marathon. I became obsessed with running longer races and faster times. Nine half marathons and more running shoes than I can count – here I am – a runner.
Here’s the thing about my running journey – it was never about anyone but me. Never once in my on-again-off-again-back-on-again relationship with running did I focus on “beating” anyone but myself, my time, my distance, the run before. I was focused on my personal goals. My friends successes – longer races and better times – only drove me to work harder on me.
We have to stop trying to “beat” each other – and focus on continuing to “beat” ourselves. We have to keep focused on our own goals.
Set the Big Goals: Put the target on the wall and set your big, audacious, someday kind of dream. Want to be a CEO? Say it out loud to yourself. Want to own a business? Write that down. Know the dream YOU are chasing. Don’t be afraid to name it. What’s my big crazy dream? Writing a best-selling book. Crazy right?
Set the Goals to Get There: Now that you’ve named the big, audacious dream, how are you going to get there? What are some possible steps you could chase? This is NOT a 5-year or 10-year plan. I repeat, this is not a 5-year plan. Those things become fiction five seconds after you write them. Give yourself lots of options and understand all the different ways you could get to the big dream, but don’t script your life. We have to understand how we can get closer to our dream, but also understand that the outcome is more important than the way in which we get there.
For example: If I want to write a best-selling book, I should probably write.a.book (I have before but with other people). I should probably know what it takes to be a best-seller, I should probably have a topic to write about, I should probably have a publisher, I should probably know how to get a publisher, and I should probably start writing. Do I have a distinct plan for each of these? No. Do I know what I need to do right now, today, tomorrow, next week to get closer? Yes. I have thoughts on a lot of these steps and what I might do get achieve them, but I’m not married to any of it until it’s time to put my attention there. That way if the steps get rearranged or I have to make changes, it feels like a course correction and not a failure. You get the idea: set some goals to get to the big, audacious goal, but write them down in pencil, not pen.
Focus on Your Outcome: Stay focused on our outcome – not someone else’s – and don’t be afraid to edit, adapt, and adjust your path. I know lots of people who’ve written books. I see books hit the best-seller’s list all the time. I can’t let those things drive me to compete with those authors and and I can’t let their success make me question my ability to achieve my own. Focus on your outcome. Incrementally get there day-by-day.
Learn from Other Success: I find it much easier to treat those who have achieved goals similar to mine as teachers with valuable insight to offer. As a runner, I found myself wanting to run with people who were faster than me – to push me. I’d ask them how they’re training and I’d read everything I could from the world’s best runners. Don’t let your ego or jealously get in the way of you learning from those who’ve already walked a path similar to yours or achieved things you want to achieve. More often than not, they want to share their lessons, insights, and secrets with you.
We have to learn to set goals for ourselves, but not just the big “someday” kind of dreams, we have to know what goals will get us there. I knew very quickly that I couldn’t just walk out my front door and run a marathon. I started with incremental goals to get me there – a mile, a 5K, etc. I probably will never run a marathon, but I never really wanted to. I just wanted to run. I stayed focused on my goal, celebrated my successes along the way, and learned from others who already had the successes I was chasing.
It was never about anything other than my goals. It was never about anyone other than me. We have to use this mindset as we chase our big, audacious dreams. We have to remember that every woman is out there every day chasing a dream that is distinctly our own. The more we compete with ourselves, in the pursuit of our dreams, the less we have to compete with each other.
Stay tuned for Part 3 later this week: Check Yourself.
Learn more about the movement inspiring girls and women to shut down unhealthy comparison and competition called Stand Beside Her by visiting http://www.standbesideher.org/ I’m proud to support and advocate for this movement.
until we break more glass…