This post first appeared on Flying Solo.
Have you ever woken up with an intensely brilliant idea for your business? One that makes your heartbeat just a bit faster, and your mind start to wander into seeing your adoring accountant fawning over your quadrupled revenue? You then head to Google only to see that someone else has been there and done a hugely successfully that?
Or you think about setting up a course or writing a book about your experiences, but look at all the high-profile solopreneurs out there hustling their butts off and sharing something similar to what you were going to share, so you curl back into your shell?
Welcome to the green-eyed envy monster! To the “I’m not good enough”, “Who am I to …” “There’s no point in even trying” subtly evil self-talk.
You are 100% normal when you have these confidence wobbles. Comparing yourself to others and finding yourself as wanting, is a huge part of being human. And it sucks!
Comparisonitis is a disease that robs you of future success happiness by strangling action before you even begin. It is the close cousin of that other horrible disease that often afflicts small business owners – perfectionism.
By telling yourself that there is no point in trying, you give up the hope for anything better, so you settle for meh.
Yeah – but how do you get over comparisonitis and get on with your dreams?
There’s a stack of coping strategies, but the easiest is to take yourself out of the equation altogether (and no, I don’t mean THAT way!)
When your self-esteem is lower than a toddler realising they aren’t really Superman and can’t really fly, your emotions are on trigger happy alert.
Every time you try to take even a baby step forward towards your goal, your emotions crank into full throttle “danger” alerts and push you into comparing yourself to others, so you end in a puddle of indecision or tears.
You can either feel the feelings and work through them (can we say painful, messy and generally at the most inconvenient time), or we can drop into depersonalisation.
Huh? What the heck is that?
Depersonalisation is a skill that we all have and use regularly.
Let’s imagine for a moment that you have been having a ding-dong argument with your hormonal teenager about the importance of homework. Voices are raised. Dagger eyes thrown and plates put on tables with unnecessary force.
And then the phone rings, and it’s your much-loved mother-in-law needing a lift to the hospital because they injured themselves when cutting the dinner pumpkin.
Sure, your voice tone may have been a teeny bit more terse than usual when you first answer, but you quickly drop into helping mode. You dropped out of the raw emotion where you were feeling stuff and into a depersonalised problem-solving approach.
We see this strategy in use when someone grieving finds they have to clean anything not nailed down, or blokes having a rough time needing to shoot some hoops with their mate.
Depersonalisation helps distract from the emotion so you can get on and do the thing that needs to be done. At some point, you still will need to process your emotional “stuff”, but for that moment, you can move forward.
The challenge is most of the time we choose this strategy unconsciously. We just do it without realising why we are doing it.
It all starts with ‘how’
When comparisonitis strikes, the trick is to consciously put yourself into depersonalised mode by asking, “How?”
To get out of Comparisonitis, ignore “What” the amazingly successful person is doing, and focus intensely on the “How” they are doing it.
Take a good, in-depth look at the successful solopreneur you envy and then pretend you are a detective examining their process for clues to work out exactly “how” they are doing the thing you want to do.
- Examine precisely how they are structuring their landing pages: What goes first, second, third on the page.
- What colours are they using and why are they using them?
- What pictures are they using?
- How are they displaying their product (if you are thinking about a book or a course): Just a cover or has it been rendered into a pretend book?
- What is their sales funnel? What emails are they sending and when are they sending them?
- Have they got a Facebook group? How are they getting engagement in their Facebook group and not just having digital tumbleweeds?
- What other social media are they active on?
Look at the process behind the successful thing they are doing and take copious notes.
Whatever you do, don’t copy them, their words, or their images. You will only ever end up looking like a poor (and slightly bitter) clone of them, and they will hate you forever and mutter about you to their friends and colleagues.
Look and learn but be fully yourself when it comes to applying the learnings. What you are trying to do with work out the process steps they have used to help guide your process.
If you can’t work out the process for yourself, hire a mentor (cough – check out our mentoring packages) to act as a sounding board and to help you tease the process steps out.
Step away from yourself
Keep the depersonalisation strategy going when you start to put pen to paper about your idea/product/service.
Some ways to do that:
- Imagine you are writing for a client and not you.
- Physically seat yourself at the other side of your desk (where your clients usually sit) when you are writing about you.
- Ask yourself, “If Mary (or whomever you were admiring) was writing about this idea/product/service, what would they say?”
- Hire a copywriter to write your content for you (if you really can’t get out of your own way).
If you think you are writing/talking about someone else other than you, comparisonitis gets pushed aside.
Tackle one tiny thing
Finally, it is easier to depersonalise in small doses.
Do one tiny task at a time so you can tell yourself “I am just writing one paragraph and not a book”, or “I am just recording one three minute video and not a training series.”
By stepping back from your emotions, going into process mode, putting on a different viewpoint and taking things one tiny step at a time, you will head into the comparisonitis recovery program.
Soon you will find other people looking up to you and your success with envy in their eyes (and you will just smile knowingly).