Thursday, November 26, 2009

Beyond Compare

Do you find yourself comparing your successes or lack thereof to those of other people?  Whether you're an executive wondering why the co-worker in the next cube got the promotion instead of you, a mom who wishes her kids would be as well-behaved as her neighbor's, anyone wondering if he's keeping up with the Joneses, or a Gainfully Unemployed who wants to know how Actor A books so many jobs or Author A sells so many books but you don't, appreciating and valuing your own accomplishments can be a challenge.  Even on Thanksgiving.

When I read about another author's sales, it's hard not to wonder when I'll see my name in Publisher's Lunch.  Especially when it's someone I know or finaled in a contest with.  I'm happy for them on the one hand, but on the other wish my turn would come.  It doesn't help when a multi-published, award-winning author I critique for calls to say what I gift I have for making her books so much better and that she can't understand why I still haven't sold. (One of my mss is with one of her editors on her recommendation, fingers crossed.) When I hear how many acting jobs a friend has gotten recently, it's hard not to compare her list against mine and wonder how I can get more work.  Or when, as has happened quite often recently, I see people I once performed with on national TV or Broadway, it can be a challenge not to ask, "Why them?"  To not worry about what else I should be doing, or doing differently.

Comparing yourself to others minimizes your accomplishments.  It can make you feel defeated. You might stop believing in yourself and give up, especially without any external validation. One reason I enter writing contests is because finalling provides a shot in the arm to help me keep going. The weeks between the announcement of the finalists and the winners provide lots of time to share the good news. It's rewarding to know more than one judge liked your entry and that an industry professional will soon be reading it for the final round and may ask to see more.

Christina Dodd gave a speech at a Romance Writers of America conference about how each author's path to publication was different.  Some might be short (ie you sell your first ms to the first editor you send it to.  I know a couple of people who managed this.) while others will be long and rocky (you complete many mss and have hundreds of rejections to your name.  Sound familiar?).  Others will sell one book or a few, then have trouble selling more.  The question is: do you have the stamina to keep walking?

Can you focus on gratitude for your accomplishments?

Articles about ways to stop comparing yourself to others:


Adversity University

Zen Habits

No comments: