If it has not been apparent to date, I’ll confess that I am always competing with myself. And let me share some benefits of doing just that.
- You’re setting your agenda. External stimuli remain so and you are guided by your own mission. Which necessarily means you need to get clear on exactly what that is. This, in itself, is a good thing.
- Whatever results you get will be relevant to you which is not always the case when the agenda is set by someone else. You will care about it unlike anything else because it is aligned with where you’re headed.
- Clarity about your purpose and what you need to do to support that purpose helps you get clear about other things as well. You know exactly what you want to say YES to. You also then know all the NOs you need to give out. This frees up so much mental bandwidth.
- You can be as public as you want about it. Or not. You choose. It can be liberating to live without external judgement and to make your own way as you choose.
That said, here are some other things I understand about competing with yourself.
The journey can be long.
My journey in writing took many good years and much of it was fraught with disappointment, ambiguity, fear and worry. Perhaps it was needless or maybe that’s simply part of the process. What I do know is the struggle is as real as can be and we learn through the struggle. If you give up too soon, if you set too high an expectation of what is possible in the time frame, you’re not giving yourself enough of a chance to win. So let patience and perseverance be your friends.
You’ve got to be your own cheerleader.
When you’re doing something unique, walking a new road, connecting dots in a way others are not, you’re on your own. You know what you’re doing and others may neither understand nor fully support. Rather than get de-moralised, you cheer yourself on knowing the path you choose and the outcomes you are after. Consider it a test: how badly do you want this? What will you give up to attain it?
You can figure out the way as you go along.
In the early years of my career, I spent countless hours reading, researching and getting all the relevant information I needed about the areas I was playing in. There was so much to read, so many newsletters to subscribe to. It was exhausting and never-ending. It was also confusing. For every one person who told you you needed to take the left fork, there was another to tell you to head right. Who was right? Who was I to trust? How would I establish my parameters? Then I realised that I could no longer sustain that pace, trying to keep up with everything I needed to know and learn. I decided I would learn as I go along. Cut out the clutter and focus more on learning by doing. It has made all the difference.
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
If you write, toy with video at some point. Start small and limit exposure if you need to. But start with the goal and outcome. Be as clear as you can about what you’re looking for and let that drive your activities. Dabble in new things. Experimenting is all about uncertainty, cross-pollination of ideas, courage, curiosity and more. If that’s not in your nature, push yourself into it. Give yourself some room to breathe. And allow for some level of failure which you should treat as par the course. It will be ok.
How am I competing with myself? Here are three instances.
- I set myself the challenge to start writing in 2007. Haven’t stopped yet.
- I ran a half-marathon in 2016 to get rid of such a huge limiting belief that I simply was not built that way and that I should simply not even start. So much has shifted since completing that run.
- I began the Thrive meetups in 2017 for two reasons. First, to begin offering a safe and supportive space for women so that they could work on building more influence for themselves. Second, if you cannot find what you need, you simply build it.
Are you competing with yourself? What are you discovering? I’d love to know.