“Don’t compare yourself to anyone else,” is age-old advice, and it’s wrong.

We don’t live in isolation. Every single thing we do is comparable to something somebody else has done.

Maybe you’ve looked at high achievers with envy and resentment. Your fears and frustrations start to simmer, then you say something like “I’m gonna cut my hands off!”

I have heard an artist or two say that. and I may have said it myself.

Don’t compare yourself to others in an unhealthy way. If we spend enough time on social media we will always find someone like us who’s done more. They earn more, with a better body, a more sexy spouse, a huge house, etc.

So why torture ourselves by searching for people like this?

Because it can make you better.

I love to look at my idols and see how I compare. Where am I on the ladder to my success compared to them?

Compare your work to your idols and model what they did. As an artist and entrepreneur, I get inspired by the achievements of others. I’ve admitted to feeling envy others’ success and skill, but I started doing something about it. Wouldn’t it be better to examine these artists and achievers to find inspiration instead of resentment?

When you see someone who is better, try to see the possibility of what YOU can be, yourself. See someone who has ‘made it’ as a role model, a motivator and proof that you can achieve your own goals and dreams.

I do this with artists I admire, entrepreneurs I respect, and couples who have built successful marriages. Especially with the artists, though, it’s effortless to model what they have done. They make visual examples that you can deconstruct, and you can see it any time you want!

If you look at a piece of art and go “Holy wowzers, Batman!” then it’s time to pause. Figure out why you got so excited that you pissed yourself a bit. Now start applying that cool trick with line weights, color, contrast, composition, etc. to your own work.

Something to consider…

One way you can avoid the “highlight reel” comparisons is to realize how much went into “overnight” success for the people you’re comparing yourself to.

I’m still on the road toward success, myself. I can say I’m a successful tattoo artist. I make enough money to provide for my family’s needs, pay my bills, put some in savings, and still have a dollar left for a luxury or two now and then (eating out at DQ once per month, for instance).

But it took time and hard work to get to where I am. There were sacrifices and imbalance involved in the process. I have put in several 60-80 hour weeks to get to where I can relax for a day here and there. And I know many others have done the same and more to get where they are.

Olympic gold medalists don’t win by living normal lives. They sacrifice years of their lives on training to win. Their “overnight” success took years of hard work doing what 99.9% of the population would never do.

So, when you look at the artist who does what you want to do – look for the bins of trashed drawings that weren’t good enough. Or the entrepreneur that launched an “overnight” success…look for the 10 failed companies before the big hit.

Is it worth it?

I’m complimented often for how healthy my relationship with my wife is. I also have talented “hobby artists” approach me saying that they couldn’t cut it as a professional. I finally have my financial life in some semblance of order.

And it took a very, very long time and a lot of sacrifices to get where I am. I spend more time with books and my drawing tablet than I do with my family.

I’ve learned how to be mindful of my time with my family and do my very best to make my time with them count. And my past has hundreds of tiny and huge mistakes that I’ve learned from to succeed.

I spent a year in pretty extreme poverty ($12,000 supported a family of 3 for a year) to reach a tipping point in my career. I burned through my savings, maxed out my credit, and finally, FINALLY made ends meet. It was a risk, but after careful consideration with my wife, who loves me and supports me, we decided to give it a shot.

Now…I’m successful. But few people see the B-Roll, only the highlights, and the killer preview. And you know what? It’s worth it.

Even simple success is hard.

Your friends who have their lives together, with the perfect spouse, a decent job and a nice car: it took effort, sacrifice, and hard work for them to pull that off.

They have worked on themselves first, like I did, and made their life the way they want it to be.

We can all do this, but it won’t happen unless we make it happen – with goals, a plan, and some sacrifices.

Being jealous of other people’s achievements is not healthy. As soon as you notice the jealousy caused by the Social Media highlight reel, take a moment and snap out of it. Instead, find inspiration from what others achieve. Learn from their success – because success leaves clues.

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