Why You Should Bite the Bullet and Compare Yourself to Others

“Stop comparing yourself to others”, goes the usual advice. It’s often even good advice.

After all, if comparing yourself to others causes you to beat yourself up for your shortcomings and sends you into a pit of despair, you’re probably going to want to stop that. But it’s the beating yourself up you should stop; not the occasional comparison.

Here’s why you should bite the bullet and compare yourself to others. Objectively.

You’re living in your own little world

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that everything just is the way it is. Want an example? I once owned a condo, and while I thought we should move into a house, I didn’t see how that would be possible. Then a coworker mentioned that she’d just sold her condo and bought a house.

I was envious. But I didn’t sit around wondering how she could afford to buy a house when I couldn’t. Instead, I asked her how she was able to do that. Literally.

She explained that she’d sold her condo — which had our exact same floor plan — for what seemed (to me) like a crazy amount of money and so was able to afford a down payment on a house in a less expensive area. I called a Realtor and asked how much our condo was now worth. (Answer? A whole lot more than I’d imagined. It had doubled in value since we bought it.) Two months later we owned a house.

You need a wake up call

Living paycheck to paycheck, and no money in retirement? According to a New York Times article, seventy-five percent of Americans nearing retirement age in 2010 had less than $30,000 in their retirement accounts. So that’s normal, right? Sure, if you define normal as being what most people do.

But is it smart? Of course not.

Comparing yourself to others who already are where you’ll be in a few years if you don’t make some changes can be the wake up call you need.

I don’t want to be stressing out and wondering how I’m going to afford to eat. You probably don’t either. So do something about it now. Don’t just assume you’re on track because “everybody does it”. Remember what your mom asked: If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?

You need a little inspiration

Pat Flynn and Jaime Tardy are awesome. Maybe you’re not making boatloads of money each month or interviewing millionaires right now. But there’s proof that it can be done.

If they can do it, so can you — if you put in the work and the passion. Be careful here to focus on how they got where they are, and how you can do the same — not on how far you might have to go. We all start where we are, and they did too.

They were both ready to quit at one time, but they kept going anyway. You can too.

So go compare yourself to others — the right way. And then make the life you want to make.


  • Totally agree – it’s all about the mindset you use when you compare yourself. Comparing yourself honestly helps you set goals as to where you want to be and in turn will get you there faster.


  • The trick is to compare up, not down. If you have $34,000 in retirement then you can feel like you’re better than average — you should not compare yourself to someone just to feel superior!

    • That’s a good point; comparing for the purposes of feeling superior isn’t any more helpful than comparing for the purposes of beating yourself up.

  • I agree with Kathleen-the trick is to compare up, not down. What is more, when somebody I like is better than me at something, I find it motivating and inspiring. I try not to compare myself to people I don’t like (you know, this “energy vampire” type) because I feel frustrated then.

  • “seventy-five percent of Americans nearing retirement age in 2010 had less than $30,000 in their retirement accounts.” HOLY CRAP! That is terrifying.

    It’s interesting to think of comparisons in terms of “lordjesus, do not be like that” or as an opportunity to learn how to improve your situation. Never really thought of it like that. I think most of us tend to compare ourselves in ways that make us feel inadequate. Clever to use it as a learning tool. Imagine that, Jackie being clever yet again! :)