Real Talk: I Can’t Stop Comparing My Career to My Friends’ and it’s Making Me Miserable

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Leah Thomas866
May 20, 2024 at 3:45AM UTC

“Does anyone else find they are constantly comparing their career to their friends' careers or even their coworkers?” one FGB'er wrote to the Community

“I am constantly feeling like I should be more advanced at this point, should be making more money, should feel more certain about my path/goals … all because I'm looking at what other people are doing. I recognize this link of thinking can be dangerous, but I can't seem to stop myself. If anyone else has experienced this … do you have any tips?”

Several FGB'ers responded to the post, offering advice and support.

“Comparison is the thief of joy,” one wrote. “My advice: don't compare. Think about your own successes and be proud of them.”

“It's hard to NOT pay attention to friends are doing with their jobs,” another said. “Hearing about about someone's raise, promotion and cool work perks can make you feel like you're doing something wrong. But the reality is, comparing your job to the jobs of others is a waste of time that leads to unnecessary bitterness.”

And a third said, “Their job probably isn't relevant to yours. Even if you're in the same industry or have the same job at different companies, it's impossible to have the exact same skill set or experience. So comparing is setting yourself up for a disaster. Be proud of what you do!”

They're right. It is difficult to not compare yourself to those around you. Especially when these days, career accomplishments are flooding our social media feeds and causing us to question our own accomplishments or lack thereof. 

“I think that everyone compares themselves to colleagues and friends on career progress,” one woman said. “To a degree, that is normal.  But getting obsessive about it? Not good. Consider your career as only one component in your life. Other components are family, friends, community work, hobbies, health, etc. The important thing is to be happy across the spectrum, even if one or more areas are not perfect. One more thing: you probably don’t know about challenges that your friends are facing— the challenges that they don’t disclose. It might be that your colleagues and friends are envying you in ways you don’t know about.”

It may be impossible to avoid these feelings, but it is possible to counter them with positive thoughts.

When you begin feeling this way, remind yourself of your own accomplishments. List your recent accomplishments, as well as your future goals and the ways you are working toward them. Be proud of the things you have done, and how hard you have worked to achieve them. And, if anything, use this as motivation to continue moving forward in your life. 

“I recommend doing your best to shift your focus inward,” one FBG'er advised. “Keep a tally of your accomplishments and what you're grateful for. This will remind you of what's going RIGHT with you. I'm certain there are lots of things. A fun exercise is to take a small jar and whenever you have an accomplishment, write it on a post it and put it in the jar. It makes you stop to acknowledge good news, and you can visually see the jar fill up. If you start if for 2019, you can dump out the jar at this time next year and reflect on how awesome you are!” 

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