We were all born running. Induced into a race from our very first breath. Moving towards a mark that was set before us. Success measured by averages. Are you above or are you below? Are you behind or are you ahead? How do you compare to your counterparts? How have you progressed?
We are commonly coached to ignore our comparisons. “Run your own race” and “stay in your lane” are phrases that seemingly soothe us on the surface. Regardless of how good this advice sounds, it is a difficult perspective to maintain. I have found that the challenge is not merely staying in your lane, but more so working out what your lane is. We can’t help but notice the progressions of others, and it is easy to be discouraged by people zipping in front of you. Yet often our frustrations lie in understanding where our own journeys are taking us.
If life was a straight course, and we could see the end in sight, our landmarks would be easier to celebrate. But quite often our courses are convoluted, filled with obstacles and hurdles that we’re required to conquer.
Running your own race is about mastering endurance and not being distracted by the pace of others around you. Quite recently, I felt guilty about the level of progress I had made. Three years ago, I had set a goal to finish my doctoral degree this Spring. In fact, if all had gone to plan, my graduation would have been this past weekend. Yet life did what life does, and obstacles came. Some were simple to solve, but most have caused me to stumble in my tracks. I have thought about quitting. I have wanted to crawl under tables, curl up in a ball and pretend that life is not happening. I have dreaded answering the question “how is everything going?”, convinced that no one wants the real answer anyway. I have questioned my worth and my foundation. I have struggled to hope in what I cannot see. I have wondered how people before me have succeeded.
Perhaps you have experienced something similar, how do you run your own race then?
If life was a straight course, and we could see the end in sight, our landmarks would be easier to celebrate
It is very easy to watch other people achieve similar goals, and feel like you are barely running at all. Many of us are reaching ages where we have expected to accomplish certain landmarks. For some of us, the idea of home ownership, marriage, children, senior level positions, or having successful businesses seem far removed from our reality. But running your own race focuses more on celebrating the increments, more than the landmarks. You may not own your home, but did you save 10% of your salary this month? You may not be married, but did you go on a third date? You may not have the capital for your business, but did you work on your business plan? Increments.
The problem with comparison is we do not truly know where people start from, what sacrifices they have made, or the obstacles they have had to face. Even the most transparent testimony has its edits, and you don’t know how many increments it took to get to their landmark.
This new series is going to break down what running your own race really means, and how to have healthy comparisons during your journey. Eliminating comparisons completely is unrealistic, but being mindful of individual purpose, context, skill set and vision can help it not to steal your joy.