A Common Challenge: The Comparison Trap

By: Eden Hensley; Photos by Justin Hackworth and Brooke Dennis for Alt Summit

A few weeks ago, we asked members of the Alt Community what challenges they’ve faced following their hearts and a theme emerged. Whether we’re just starting out, thinking of rebranding or venturing in a new direction, or looking to stay inspired, we’re all facing it. The Comparison Trap.

  • I battle with comparison far too often. It’s difficult getting in the mindset of being able to quit that! - @anxiouslyhavok
  • Feelings of inadequacy and comparison. I have to realize that my success will come in time. – Rebekah Norton, @rebekahanneblog
  • Falling into the comparison trap can be a challenge. Just have to put head down and do the work! - Casey D. Sibley, @caseydsibley
  • Competition and comparison has been a big learning curve for me. It can really get in the way of what you want if you let it. Sometimes you have to put your blinders on and wrap yourself in bubble wrap. - Elizabeth Fein, @iteratesocial
  • The comparison game can always get in my way – so I try to stay true to what feels right for me. - @blaircuriosity

I find that whenever I’m facing a crossroads or feeling creatively blocked, I’m more susceptible to the comparison trap. My productivity is stalling and my lack of momentum makes it easy for the quicksand of comparison to hold onto my feet and stick them in place. So lately I’ve started doing three things, and I highly recommend them if comparison is sneaking up on you.

Three Steps to Break Free of The Comparison Trap

First, regardless of my deadlines, I shut my computer and I turn off my phone.

Second, I take a break. Often times it’s a short break. Just the length of time it takes me to make a pot of French Press coffee or walk around around the neighborhood.

Third, I flip through my brag book. I started keeping a little black book. In this book, I note little successes. Tweets where someone thanked me for inspiring them. Emails with thank yous. Instagram comments about a story I shared that really resonated. I print them all out or I handwrite or I draw them. But I put them all in my brag book. This book exists only for me. Because each page I flip through refills my tank, revs my engine, and leaves comparison in the dust.

What are your secrets to getting free of the comparison trap or using it for your benefit?

Go Deeper: More Resources

  1. Get Started! It’s The Only Way to Start
  2. How to decide which passion to follow
  3. Six resources for making dreams your reality
  4. Get in the Game - Gaining the Mindset of an Entrepreneur
  5. Beginning: Advice Beyond “Just Start”
  6. Top seven tips for finding your voice (the first tip -- stop comparing and how Karen Walrond manages to do just that!)
  7. Four tips for staying creative over the long haul