It doesn’t happen all at once. But you notice it all at once.
Little by little, changes take place. One minute you are ecstatic about your students’ work, and cannot believe the creativity and risks you have taken over the past year. And then, after only a few weeks of scrolling through Twitter and Instagram, you realize that you are no longer doing as much as you thought you were. This year some educators immediately began crushing virtual teaching. And some educators hardly knew where to begin. When I listen to podcasts and scroll through Twitter, I realize that while I am becoming inspired and aware of what is out there, it is also clear that some educators have reached a new level of teaching.
Falling into the comparison trap is not limited to the classroom, there are negative effects of what happens when we compare ourselves to how people look, ability with fitness, homes, cars, and success in their careers. Asking the question, “What if” as well as taking the time to dig deep into an area, realize what you are saying no to, consider if you are moving toward or away from you goals and honestly acknowledge the work that goes into certain successes.
When you find yourself comparing and then feeling down about where you are in your journey, begin by asking the question, “What if?”
Ask The Question What If?
What if, rather than feeling bad about how far you are from where someone else is currently at, you stopped and asked,“What if?” When something caught your eye enough to make you consider if you were doing enough.
What if I tried out more technology?
What if my students continued to connect with me after the school year?
What if I asked my boss about going to a conference?
What if I was outgoing and fun around my students?
What if I saved up the money to buy my dream house?
What if I got serious about getting out of debt?
What if I worked hard on my relationship?
What if I tried that hobby?
What if I worked hard to propose an outline for a book?
What if I started running?
What if I spent time brainstorming and trying out new recipes?
When you see people sharing a piece of success from his or her journey, assume the best. Assume that they are proud of the work and feel good about life. If a post, picture, or idea chips away at you, maybe that is a clue as to what you would like to improve. Dig deep. Ask yourself what it is about that picture, post, or article that catches your attention.
And then, when you have your first answer, ask “Why” again, and continue digging deep as you can to uncover what you are looking for.
Maybe a particular picture is not what you necessarily want, but it is organization or a sense of control that you are after.
If you want to be an incredible athlete like the ones you look at on social media, ask yourself, “Am I putting in the work required to achieve a high level? And more importantly, do I want to do the work and make the sacrifices to become the athlete that I am looking at? If the answer is yes, consider the fact that it’s possible you don’t know where he or she began. What if you are looking at the end of an athlete’s 10-year journey filled with thousands of hours of hard work? One day, someone might see you in the middle or at the end of a tough journey where you appear incredibly successful and have the same feeling.
Saying Yes to one area is Saying No to Another
Saying yes to increasing the amount of tech sites you use in your classroom, means that you will need extra time to explore and play with technology. Saying yes to building an incredible classroom culture means that you will not be able to teach your subject area the way you have always taught it. Saying yes to training for a half marathon means that you might have to adjust your schedule so you can get up earlier in the morning. Saying yes to having an incredible garden means that you might have to say no to another hobby. Saying yes, should give you options that energize you. If you are honest about the journey that is right for you, and not someone else, what you are doing should enable you to come closer to achieving your goals.
Ask yourself, “Is Comparing my position with another person bringing me closer to my goals?”
Sometimes taking a look at where someone else is at provides a wake-up call or the fuel necessary to help us move forward. There are times when it pays considerable dividends to ask a successful person how they got to a certain point. I remember the scene in the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness,” where Chris Gardner, played by Will Smith, sees a businessman with a fancy car. Instead of feeling bad for himself, he asks, “What job do you do to have this nice car?” How do you find these lessons, or what made you decide to write a book, and tell me about the process.
Asking questions can help close the gap between our dream and where we are.
Your Journey is For You and Nobody Else
Imagine an airport shuttle. At each stop, several people get on, and sometimes other people will get off. People are going to different airlines and have various destinations and purposes in the journeys they have selected. You wouldn’t get off at someone else’s stop and catch a flight with an airline you didn’t have a ticket for just because the person next to you did. Unfortunately, we do this all the time. It is a great idea to get ideas as we observe other people. And, we might even decide that we wish for similar things. However, your journey is specific to you and designed for you to embrace to thrive. Uncovering your journey happens by asking the right questions including, the “What if,” digging deep, understanding what you are saying yes to, considering if you are moving toward your goals by comparing yourself, and lastly, having the courage to own your journey.
“Whatever your passion is, keep doing it. Don't waste time chasing after success or comparing yourself to others. Every flower blooms at a different pace. Excel at doing what your passion is and only focus on perfecting it. Eventually people will see what you are great at doing, and if you are truly great, success will come chasing after you.” ― Suzy Kassem