Years ago, on a surprisingly cool August afternoon in Texas, I was cruising up I-35, singing along with Kelly Clarkson in my slowly rusting (but totally awesome) 1985 BMW when I first realized: I was way behind.
At 17 years old, I was feeling pretty good about myself. Just a few months earlier, I’d graduated high school in three years.
At the time, I felt like I was ready to get a head start on my education and on life.
But before classes had even begun, my pride had turned into terror.
I might’ve jumped ahead of my classmates by finishing high school early, but now I felt so far behind my college peers that I worried I’d never catch up.
The danger of comparison
How did I go from feeling so proud of my accomplishment to feeling so afraid and unworthy in only the time it takes to sing along to “Since U Been Gone?”
I’d fallen into the comparison trap.
I started thinking about how I would stack up against my new peers. As an incoming freshman music major, I wanted to be the best violist in my class from the very beginning.
And since I was focused on comparing myself to others, my mindset got all jacked up.
Instead of going to college to learn and grow, I tricked myself into thinking that I had to be the very best (cue the Pokémon theme song). But that was a battle I couldn’t win. And the only casualty was me.
I started second guessing my choices. Maybe I should’ve stayed in high school one more year. What if I had sabotaged my whole future?
If you’ve ever felt like your business isn’t growing fast enough, you know how that feels: terrifying, stressful, and like you’ll never be good enough.
Instead of enjoying the freedom that comes from starting your own business, you’re locked down by fear that you’ll never catch up to all those 6-, 7-, and 8-figure business owners who started building their businesses decades ago.
So what do you do when you feel like you’re behind? Like you’re not moving fast enough?
Trying to go faster and work harder doesn’t work. It’s like trying to sprint in the middle of a marathon. It just leaves you more exhausted and doesn’t get you to the finish line any faster. And sometimes that sprint means the end of your race when you burn out.
It also doesn’t help to bury your head in the sand and pretend that everything is fine. Eventually, the fear that you’re not good enough will push through to wreak havoc in your life.
So what do you do when you feel behind?
Break the “I’m behind” loop
When you feel like you’re behind in your business, there’s a good chance you’re stuck in a feedback loop.
Here’s what that loop usually looks like:
– You do a thing.
– Then you stop to compare your work to someone else’s work.
– Before long, you start feeling like your work isn’t good enough (because someone else is better at it).
– So you stress more or work harder or stay up later (or all of the above) to try to catch up.
– Then, when you try again, you find yourself once again comparing your work to someone else’s. And you’re back at the beginning, circling the feedback loop of “I’m behind. I’m not good enough.”
To break out of that loop, do these three things:
1. Celebrate your accomplishments
When I graduated early from high school, that accomplishment was immediately transformed into a failure. I went from “I did great work!” to “I’m so far behind!” in a matter of days.
So when you successfully launch a new product, or finish a project, or land a sale, pause to celebrate your success.
Even celebrate small successes, like writing a solid guest post, being present on a client call, or making a new connection.
Let yourself enjoy the fruits of your labor. Rather than constantly reminding yourself that you’re behind, pause to reinforce that you’ve done great work.
2. Re-frame your journey
How often do you find yourself wishing that you were farther ahead? That you were making more money? That you had more time to spend with your family?
Your life is your journey and you can’t be anywhere other than where you are right now.
I like to tap in to gratitude at this point. Where am I currently in my business? What am I thankful for? It only takes a minute to take stock of my the good stuff, and it’s worth it.
So what things are going well for you right now? Even if you’re not #crushingit (which, by the way, is not the point), what are you thankful for? What do you enjoy about your life?
You’re on your journey, not someone else’s. Which brings us to:
3. Remember that you can never actually be behind
If your journey is yours alone, then you can only be where you are. You cannot be ahead or behind. You can only be where you are.
When I feel behind, I know it’s simply because I set an expectation that I was not able to meet. Since I’m the only person who can determine what “behind” means for me, all I have to do is adjust my expectations.
When you realize that you can never be behind, that has a huge impact on how you set goals and deadlines. But we’ll save that conversation for another day.
Just remember that you can never be behind. You can only be where you are right now. If you want to be somewhere else, then get movin’.
Mindset work is not easy. And that’s OK.
Nobody ever tells you how much mindset work is needed to run a successful business.
As entrepreneurs, we spend so much time feeling overwhelmed and stuck because feeling confident and in control doesn’t come naturally to most of us.
I’ve seen how much of a toll uncertainty and overwhelm can take on our lives and I’m here to help you get clarity, take back control, and confidently grow your business.
I’ll help you go from stuck and overwhelmed to growing and thriving. To learn more about how we could work together, sign up for a FREE 20-minute call with me.
Just follow this link to reserve your call: 20-minute Strategy Call
In 20 minutes, we’ll take a look at what’s currently standing in your way, and you’ll get clear on how you can streamline your organization and mindset systems so you can move your business forward.