Compare or Don’t Care? How to Use Comparison as Motivation
We are all runners with our own unique ambitions, but we are also all people. As people, we are bound to compare ourselves to others at some point in life. It’s only natural for us to look at other runners and say, “Wow, I wish I could be like that!” For me personally, I often struggle with comparison and catch myself comparing my abilities to others in running or in other areas of life.
Since we are all bound to struggle with the comparison game at some point, I would like to unpack what it feels like to compare versus not caring at all, and how ultimately, the best option is to use comparison to our advantage, to motivate ourselves and one another.
Compare Vs. Don’t Care
What does it feel like to constantly compare yourself? Well, it feels like a constant battle, a fight that never seems to be over. It feels like climbing a mountain and never reaching the top. Instead of focusing on and celebrating our own abilities and accomplishments, we are always jealous of the talents of someone else. This is especially true when we are comparing ourselves to a standard that is unrealistic for us to reach (i.e., an Olympic athlete for most of us). Simply comparing ourselves to someone else, resulting in these sorts of outcomes and feelings, is unhealthy, and it undermines our unique abilities and overall self-esteem.
What about not caring? Wouldn’t this be the easier choice? Well, not exactly. First of all, I don’t think it is entirely possible to never compare yourself to someone else (at least I never found it to be). Also, even if it was possible, if we don’t care at all, we may become so focused on ourselves, never looking to other runners, and missing out on the opportunities that come with recognizing other’s abilities. If we are too inwardly-focused, we may be less inclined to encourage another runner in their running. Also, without someone else to look to, we may not feel the need to adjust goals, push ourselves, and aim for higher outcomes.
So, is there a happy medium? I think there is, and it is something I like to call – “use as motivation.”
Use as Motivation
Instead of looking down on ourselves or not caring at all, we can use comparison to look to the abilities of other runners to motivate ourselves in our own running. I believe the importance in the comparison game is not whether or not we compare, but what our response is in our comparison. When we reach a time when we look at a runner and say, “Wow, I wish I could be like that,” our response should be one of inspiration, one that allows us to move forward. Examples of such responses are: pushing yourself to reach a new goal, or even, encouraging that runner and letting them know that they have inspired you.
What To Consider
Here are some things to consider when using the comparison game to motivate yourself:
- Everyone’s ability is different: Some runners are built to and can run a marathon a week, while others are not. We are all built differently, and all possess unique abilities that should be celebrated, not looked down upon. Remember that you may not be able to excel in something someone else can, and that’s okay.
- Strive to set achievable goals: Although comparing ourselves may motivate us to set new goals, it’s important to always be realistic and set achievable goals. Don’t strive for perfection, rather strive for progress and growth.
- Always be encouraging: One of my main aims in running is not just for myself, but to always be encouraging others to run too. You never know, you just might be the source of comparison for someone else, so it’s important to always be encouraging of others – whether you are looking up to them or they are looking up to you.
As runners and as people, we should strive to celebrate one another’s strengths, and allow others to motivate and inspire us both inside and outside of running.
Related: 3 Tips for Setting Realistic Goals
What do you think?
What do you do when you find yourself comparing you to others?