Why You Should Stop Comparing Yourself to Others (And How to Do It)

By Sean Ogle •  Updated: 02/04/21 •  5 min read

It was the fourth Periscope notification I’d received that day.

“Derek Halpern is Live”

He is one of my favorite bloggers, and I was cooking dinner, so I figured I’d tune in and see what he was up to.

Turns out he was at a bar in NYC with a couple other friends of mine, and let’s just say, well, they’d had a few drinks.

Turns out, I wasn’t the only one tuning in. He had hundreds of people on this Periscope to watch him basically drink martinis.

Now I admittedly haven’t spent much time learning the ins and outs of Periscope, but I couldn’t believe how many people had tuned in.

Earlier in the day Lewis Howes had gone live on Periscope multiple times for his upcoming book launch.

Same thing, hundreds of people.

Rather than feeling entertained, or inspired by these broadcasts, I found myself feeling something much less glamorous: jealousy.

While I don’t do exactly the same thing as either of them, we’re in a similar world – and their audiences are many times the size of mine.

Watching these Periscopes was a reminder of this, and I found myself making comparisons that did nothing but make me feel bad about myself.

Last week I was talking to my wife Tate about the concept of comparisons, and she mentioned a quote from Teddy Roosevelt:

“Comparison if the thief of joy.”

That quote hit me like few ever have.


Because it’s totally true.

I’ve found over my last six years of blogging that I’m at my happiest when I’m focused solely on my business.

For the first few years of this blog, I’d obsess over what other people were doing, how many comments they were getting, how much money they were making, how many features or speaking gigs were coming their way.

I’d rationalize it by saying it’s motivating me to do more, but really, all it did was make me feel bad about what I was doing – even when I was doing a lot!

The push notifications from Periscope a few weeks ago were a reminder of what it felt like to constantly be comparing yourself to others – and more importantly, a reminder not to go back down that path.

Comparisons are most dangerous however, because you’re only seeing the shiny side of things.

You have no idea what is really going on in the life or business of those other people – yet you know about all of the problems and frustrations of your own life, so it’s not a fair comparison.

How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

It’s easy to say you shouldn’t compare yourself to others, but much harder to implement. However, there are a few simple steps you can take that will make it much easier to resist the temptation.

1) Stop Following Influencers

But those are the people you’re supposed to learn from, right??

More often than not I’ve found that following the biggest people in your niche will cause you more stress than anything else.

Sure they’re internet famous for a reason – they have good, compelling, useful content – but regardless of how good the content is, if with every new blog post, tweet, or video you question your own abilities, you’re better off not paying attention.

A much better way to get around this is to unfollow, or at the very least disable push notifications or emails.

When you really want to read their content, go search for it manually. This will keep you from making negative comparisons at times when you may have otherwise had some momentum going.

2) Focus on Action Rather than Vanity Metrics

The easiest way to compare others in online business is to look at basic vanity metrics. Social media followers, blog comments, income reports etc.

Not only should you stop focusing on other people’s metrics, you should stop focusing on yours as well.

If you obsess over one particular metric in your business, it doesn’t matter how successful you are, it won’t be good enough.

Set goals around action rather than results.

Don’t make a goal of earning $10k next month, because you don’t really have control over that and it becomes too easy to compare your success or failures to others.

Instead, set a goal to create that new blog funnel, launch a new product, create 3 JV partnerships etc.

Those are actions that can lead to your revenue goal, without allowing you to subconsciously compare yourself to others.

3) Consistently Remind Yourself of What You’ve Already Done

Over the last 6 years Location 180 has become a successful blog, by pretty much any account. It’s probably in the top 1% of all blogs on the internet in terms of audience and revenue.

And even with that success, I still occasionally fall victim to the comparison game.

It doesn’t matter who you are, there will always be people with a bigger audience. There will always be people making more money.

By reminding yourself of that and focusing on the successes you do have, you’ll not only be more motivated to keep going, but you’ll be happier as well.

So, What’s the Secret to Making a Long Term Living Online?

So, want to know my secret to making a living as a professional blogger, entrepreneur, or internet marketer over the long term?

Stop comparing yourself to others.

Do you. Focus on you. And remember to give yourself credit for the great things you have done.

You’re sanity will thank you.

Now I want to hear from you. Do you compare yourself to others? Why or why not?

Image Credit: Sheep from Unsplash/Pixabay

Sean Ogle

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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47 comments on "Why You Should Stop Comparing Yourself to Others (And How to Do It)"

  1. Rob says:

    Absolutely correct. It’s a similar principle to scrolling through people’s Facebook feeds and being jealous of all the fun they’re having, not seeing the work and boring and tough days in between the little snapshots of excitement in their lives. It makes you think everyone is having more fun than you.

  2. Vijay Sharma says:

    Thanks for sharing this! It very well written in simple words. Yes, I do agree on your thinking. I did the comparison of my efforts and actions with others. But now I am learning about this that comparison will give you only insight about the efforts others are implementing in their business and life.
    I want to know about the focus from your end. Can you please share ! How to focus on own abilities or strengths or services or business or thoughts when you’re juggled by internet or socialism ?

  3. Janina says:

    Thanks for this very recognizable post! I am just starting out as an English/Dutch translator and am therefore looking for blogs of other freelance translators for information and however much they might inspire me, reading them also sparks some insecurity wondering if I’ll ever make it that far. Their success, knowledge and experience can humble me quite a lot.

    I have to add that some of them also elaborately mention the difficulties they came across when they were getting started. It seems that most of their hurdles are very similar to the ones I am running into right now which, as a result, gives me a boost of confidence.

    So i do compare myself and it definitely makes me jealous and insecure, but then I try to put it all in perspective and acknowledge my small steps and tiny victories that came from the work I put in already to keep me going. I realize that the fear of failure that comes from these emotions will only hold me back so it’s vital to stay goal oriented on my goal and only draw encouragement from theirs.

  4. Fantastic article! I think this will really help a lot of people around here. I’m one of them.

  5. This is so so true. I’m guilty of getting into the “compare and despair” cycle regularly, so I have to limit my consumption of other people’s content, especially within my niche.

    When I take the time to focus on what I’m doing, what I have to bring to the table, and then creating content that is useful to my audience… that’s when the big wins happen. Thanks for the reminder!

  6. Renee says:

    Im glad you called this out. I had reached a point of exhaustion with all the noise from all the other people in the same business as me… And so I tuned it all out (FB, spree casts, webinars, forums etc). I didn’t even consider the comparison aspect but I’m sure part of my motivation was to avoid making myself feel bad about my progress… Not to mention the whole shiny object syndrome.. Lol.. This tuning out step made a world of difference for me however and several months later, I’m glad I did it and still do..

  7. I love this, Sean!! So much wisdom and experience here. Your insights and transparency are both helpful and very moving. I love learning about your behind the scenes experience, AND your soft side!

    I definitely suffer from comparisonitis at times, and it’s often unconsciois. It truly is a thief of joy. It feels so much more energizing to focus on who I want to be and what I want to be doing versus hitting a certain income, even if it is very moderate goal. Plus, I’ve never been very money motivated, so it doesn’t work anyway!

  8. Andrew says:

    I couldn’t agree more and this message couldn’t have at a better time. I’m in such a niche market of building off-grid homes that I constantly an comparing myself to ask the builders that have business doing traditional building…. I’ve completely had to unfollow and turn off notifications constantly…. Thank you for validating my actions… Thanks for the digital therapy…. I needed that direction.

  9. Lourdes says:

    Hi Sean,
    Thanks again for sharing your experiences. This really tells me I am not the only one…
    even though there are many of us having similar voices in our head… I am one who have difficulty taking credit for anything great in my life. I can’t do the ” bragging rights”.
    I will have to start learning to do soon… lol

  10. Awesome post Sean – thanks for your honesty as always and the perspective you’ve shared here, it’s great. When I first got started, I was constantly comparing my work, my website, my followers, etc to others – those whose work I admired (many I still do) and aspired to create the type of success they had. I’d be lying if I said this still doesn’t creep up on occasion now but nothing like it use to be. I stopped because like you said, it was making me feel like shit and discouraging me instead on encouraging me, so I stopped doing it. I started to just focus on me, my work, what I had done and created and if I did do any comparing, it was comparing me against myself and where I was 30-60-90 days ago. This approach makes me happy and keeps me hungry to be better than I was last month, 6 months ago or a year ago. Making progress as I go. I love the quote you shared “Comparison is the thief of joy”. Another I like and swear by that you also eluded to in your message is “don’t compare your chapter one to someone else’s chapter 20”. As always, great stuff Sean – thanks man.

    1. Sean says:

      Absolutely. Nothing happens overnight, and we all have breakthroughs at different times. And I’m not saying in this you should never compare yourself to others or use it as motivation, but when its causing you to feel like shit, you’ve gotta do something else for a little while – and when I’m in that mode, focusing solely on my stuff is what helps.

  11. Mercedes says:

    This is great advice. I’ve been on a social media diet lately, which really helps.

  12. Brad says:

    Hi Sean,

    Thanks for the post – I’m just getting started and one of the hardest things is to not compare myself to others.

    Especially given that they’re years ahead of where I am.

    Makes much more sense to compare where I am able to get to in 1 years time to where I now.

    Harder said than done.


    P.S. This is my first time commenting, but I’ve been a long time reader. Really like the work you’re doing here – keep it up!

    1. Sean says:

      Thanks for the comment Brad! Hope to see more of you!

  13. Peter says:

    I am guilty of doing comparisons myself. Sometimes I would look at successful blogs and scratch my head and ask how did they do that? In part it is motivating, but in part a bit depressing, since I am no way at that level and all the hard work that I put into my blog hasn’t paid off. However lately I have started not to do this. The world works in mysterious ways and there are some things that I have no control over. So I just work on my own things, and hoping that someday I too can take off. It is a huge mindset shift to say to yourself that you are in competition with no one, but yourself. Luckily, the internet is not a zero sum game and there is room for everyone. 🙂

    1. Sean says:

      That last point is important, and something I feel like people often forget. The internet is definitely not a zero sum game, and “competition” is much different than it is in a traditional business.

      The way you react to others can change day over day. One day seeing a bloggers video go viral could inspire you to do more, the next it could cripple you with inaction. Just by being aware of how you feel towards it will allow you to do what’s best for you.

  14. Gaye says:

    Yes! I’ve been suffering really badly from comparisonitis over the last few months since starting my business. In fact it’s probably one of the biggest things that has slowed down my progress, making me question everything I try to do.
    Thanks so much for this post and your tips on how to stop – and I love that there were just 3 steps, makes it simple and easy to remember … cheers 🙂

    1. Sean says:

      Glad you got some use out of it!

  15. Janine says:

    Thanks for sharing! Even though I know I’ve been comparing my blog too much to other blogs, or indeed, myself to other bloggers, this article gave me some new insights on why I just have to keep taking steps instead of feeling paralysed.
    And now I know why I stopped following one of the most influential bloggers in my niche, which felt a bit like a failure because it’s someone I ‘should’ follow.. yet sometimes I had no idea what they were talking about. I now know it was a good decision!

    1. Sean says:

      Janine, I think you make an important point with the word paralyzed.

      If comparisons ever leave you feeling that way, then this article is the perfect reaction to it.

      If you find yourself lacking motivation or drive, then the opposite is true. That’s when you look to others to find energy to propel yourself forward.

      Sounds like you’re figuring out what is working for you!

  16. Chas says:

    This is so true. One of my pet peaves are articles that start out with ‘How to Be Like __’… fill in the blank. “To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.” ~e.e. cummings, 1955.

  17. Was watching those same podcasts and had a really similar experience! Been focused solely on my own business for last couple of weeks and feel back in flow and on the right track again. Love your honesty in this post.

    1. Sean says:

      Danii, glad you could relate! That’s not to say there isn’t a time when comparison is useful or even necessary, but in the case of their Periscopes it wasn’t doing anything productive for me.

  18. TM says:

    Thanks for this great article. I really appreciate the 3 points you made on how to stop comparing myself to others. It is often easier said than done especially for someone who’s just launched her blog (http://sterlinghappiness.com) like me. But I do believe it when you summed it all up by saying “Do you. Focus on you.” I am going to keep that in mind. Thank you!

  19. Derek says:

    You need to reframe this. Comparison IS the thief of joy when you let it steal happiness from your life. Comparison is also the fire that makes fast people run faster, smart people get smarter, and ambitious people get more done.

    Everyone knows the Roger Banister story and how he broke the 4 minute mile. What most people don’t know is this: when runners train, they often use someone known as a “pacer.” This is someone who runs faster than the runner for a short period of time before another “pacer” takes over to continue the pace.

    In this specific instance, comparison is what helps people achieve their best. I can also speak from experience.

    When I started doing video shoots, I’d film 5 videos in a day. And I’d be ecstatic. YES. I GOT 5 VIDEOS DONE. SURE IT COST ME 10,000 DOLLARS BUT I GOT 5!

    I was so excited I told a friend about it. And he laughed. “Oh, you just got started. We do about 15 a day now. You’ll get there.”

    At that point I felt like shit. But then I knew what was possible. 15 a day! Now ask me how many I did my next video shoot?


    Comparison is the thief of joy. It’s also the catalyst for change.

    Why do they do this? It helps people push past what they ever thought was possible.

    1. Bec says:

      Sean and Derek I think you are both right. It is WAY too easy to get caught up in comparisons and to start feeling crap about what you are doing. Sean your point about focusing on what you are working on taking action is one of the most important things a business owner can do. But Derek’s comment about using comparison as a fuel to motivate you and push yourself beyond what you think you can do is one of the best ways to go beyond your own self imposed limitations. Personally, I think a combination of focus and action without distraction along with the occasional check in to give yourself a boost and push is the best way to grow and move forward quickly. Thank you both for sharing your thoughts.

    2. Sean says:

      Generally I think there is a ton of truth to this – but different people react to comparison in different ways.

      If you’re an extremely competitive person, that comparison is going to push you forward.

      Take Roger Federer for instance. Do you still think he’d be as good as he is now if it weren’t for rivals like Nadal and Djokovic? Probably not. And for those types of people, comparison is a powerful catalyst.

      Other personality types, could react the exact opposite.

      Take a new introverted blogger who thinks they’re doing great and they are stoked to have they’re first 100 subscribers and 3 comments on a post – then they stumble across someone who has been doing it longer who has 100k subscribers and 300 comments a post. Depending on how they process comparisons, they could buckle down and blow their stuff up – or they could curl into a ball and think “I’ll never get there, I’m just going to give up.”

      In this post I neglected to talk about the times comparison has pushed me forward, but that was to illustrate a point: If you’re beating yourself up over people farther down the path than you, stop focusing on them for awhile, and focus on yourself.

      I should also mention, over the years I’ve gotten a hell of a lot of motivation from following you, so there’s a time and a place for each argument here 🙂

      1. Derek says:

        And, then, the question is: do you tell people to stop comparing themselves to others? Or do you teach them how to reframe it?

        Personally, I do not think you can teach people to stop comparing themselves to others. No matter what you say, they’re always going to do it. No matter what. That’s human behavior at its finest.

        So, instead of trying to change human behavior – this is impossible – it’s better to show people how to harness this power for good.

        1. Sean says:

          I agree, I don’t think you can stop people from comparing themselves to others. However there are actions people can take to keep the opportunities for comparison at a minimum.

          For instance if I’m growing my blog, and I get depressed every time I see an influencer Periscope, I could simply stop getting push notifications from them – so what was once an opportunity to compare, now doesn’t exist.

          I think what you’re saying is the better long term answer. If you can reframe how you react to it and turn it into something positive, it’s better all the way around, but it’s not that simple either. Rewiring how you respond to a key element of human nature takes time and deliberate effort. Sometimes you just need a quick fix to be able to keep yourself moving forward.

          1. Derek says:

            You’re essentially telling people to STOP learning because seeing someone else do what they want to do better… is heart breaking? This is a surefire way to failure.

          2. Sean says:

            Different people learn and grow and build in different ways. To your point, it’s human nature, and you don’t change that overnight. So this post was more about helping overcome the downfalls of comparison over the short term.

            Really appreciate the other point of view and discussion.

          3. I understand where you’re coming from, Derek, but you’re jumping to extreme conclusions. I think I know why…

            1) He didn’t say, “STOP learning”. Rather, he suggested that people seek out information on their own time when they’re in the mood for learning.

            Are you upset with this suggestion because it may lead to your followers paying less attention to your posts?

            2) “Surefire way to failure”? Oh, Please. Were you a failure when you were putting out 5 videos a day? No.

            Is your friend a failure because he shoots 15 a day, 2 short of your 17? No.

            I understand you take pride in your copywriting and you know how to polarize people, but that’s just ridiculous and you know it.

            3) The goal of this post was mentioned at the end: “So, What’s the Secret to Making a Long Term Living Online?”

            It’s not the same goal that you preach. It’s not “How to make 7 figures online” or “How to build an online empire.”

            Comparing yourself can be both motivating and depressing. It’s important to understand both and also know when each is appropriate to use depending on your circumstances.

  20. Derek says:

    And I’ll leave you with a quote. Not sure who said it at this time, but it’s something you should consider regularly: “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”

    Supposedly it’s by Jimmy Dean, but I’m not sure as I don’t see the sourcing.

  21. Rex says:

    Thanks for this post Sean. To me, this is about personal discipline – knowing what is best for me based on my personality, and not getting psyched out by voices in our heads. So, I agree with the idea that it’s healthy to expose ourselves to others (even the hyper-successful), but that we do so with a clear filter for what will be useful to us. For example, I know that there have been times in my development as a writer that I just needed to write, and any feedback was just not productive for me – other times, I knew I needed the feedback (badly!).

  22. Leana says:

    Thanks so much for this reminder Sean! I was finding that I was comparing myself a lot to others a little while back and it began to paralyze me. I stopped following some people and I found it really did help. It’s still hard at moments but I’m just trying to focus on what I need to do. Heartfelt gratitude for opening up and sharing!

  23. Martin says:

    “Comparison is the thief of joy. It’s also the catalyst for change.”

    I love it. I won’t lie. Envy keeps me up at night. It’s the only thing that keeps me going. My coach always uses this against me. He is a WWE star, so people always ask for his autograph. He then reminds us that nobody knows who we are to light that spark under us.

  24. Bill Kurtson says:

    Great post, Sean! 🙂 Thanks for the reminder. Just as you say, we all fall into that trap again and again, but when you’re aware of it you can realize it faster and get back up again.


  25. Scott says:

    Enjoyed the post but TBH this isn’t an issue for this commenter at the moment. The main goal here is to get time and financial independence and never have to work a j-o-b ie: reporting to one boss and being dependent on taking orders from that.

    There is the fear that there are people out there I could serve that I’m not reaching, but if the gurus are getting 100’s of people on their Periscopes while I just reach those people that would mutually benefit from our encounter, that would be more than satisfying.

    Now: how to find those people – like the 1000 true fans Tim Ferriss talks about – and make sure they can find me. It sounds like you are already doing a good job at that.

  26. Dakota says:

    Well said, Sean. I think the issue comes down to whether we are comparing ourselves for motivation or because we’re seeking external validation in some way (i.e. am I as cool as that person?). Creating work that I feel is fun, interesting, or helpful to others should be enough…but some days it doesn’t feel that way if a creative or business endeavor doesn’t get the recognition or success I expected. (Damn you expectations.)

    Maybe another way to look at it is this: are we jealous or inspired? When inspiration shifts to jealously, perhaps shutting down the feeds and doing something you feel is intrinsically worthwhile is the key. I take regular social media sabbaticals to do this, but still feel the twitch of wanting to post some amazing view of the Alps (or whatever) on Instagram. During the past two years of our travels and adventures, NOT sharing every moment of my life is far harder thanks to all the conditioning to use social media. Sharing is fun, just not always, and I think the same goes for consuming “inspiring” information. Doing something just to do it was the norm before, so why is reclaiming that feeling so difficult?!

    Thanks for your great, open post. You da man.

  27. Amin says:

    Great post as always. It’s stuff we already know, but you wrote it in an organized and concise manner. Keep it up!

  28. Funmy Kemmy says:

    Great article! When you learn to be YOURSELF you won’t WASTE valuable time comparing yourself with others unless it is done for positive cause.

  29. Timo Fischer says:

    Now that post was a slap in the face and I needed that!

    “You have no idea what is really going on in the life or business of those other people – yet you know about all of the problems and frustrations of your own life, so it’s not a fair comparison.”

    You are right it’s not fair but somehow we tend to do it over and over again and we totally dismiss the fact that we don’t actually know what problems the other business owners are facing.

    Thank you very much for this amazing post I took action and did exactly what you said!

    Time to focus on MY Business.

    Wish you all the best Sean Cheers

  30. Julien says:

    Hey Sean, long-time reader, first-time commenter here.

    Totally loved this post, I fall victim to this sometimes and I find that obsessively analyzing and comparing your competition can sometimes motivates you further, and other times can suck the energy out of you and really slow you down.

    You hit the nail on the head with:

    “I’ve found over my last six years of blogging that I’m at my happiest when I’m focused solely on my business.”

    I’ve found that to be so true for myself also. Gary V talks about this all the time too..how he hardly ever looks at what the competition is doing and just does his thing.

    By the way your blogging/business journey is a true inspiration mate. I find that you’re one of the best out there in terms of articulating things when it comes to online biz.

    – Julien

  31. Sylvia says:

    Thanks so much for this. I think almost everyone can relate to the topic, I certainly do. Great tips.

    A related tip from another successful professional: I’m just reading Billy Connolly’s ‘Route 66’. He said he doesn’t listen to or watch other comedians, because he might unconsciously absorb their material and accidentally come out with it in his show and be accused of plagiarism. He says it’s easy to do in the world of stand up comedy.

    I also think it relates to your post in terms of a professional (perhaps unfavourably) comparing themselves to others, and even losing or muddying their own voice. It’s good to keep up with your industry, but it’s also good to have a unique voice and unique ideas.

  32. Ed says:

    Thanks for posting. As for the comparison, I’m so insignificant at this point that the comparisons don’t bug me that much. Hearing what the successful guys do is generally pretty inspiring to me. But #2 hit me squarely between the eyes. I do way too much obsessing and waste way too much time. Obsessing over other people’s metrics and my own, falling into the trap of “analytics paralysis” (I need to join an Analytics Anonymous!) when I need to be developing content. I’m having to learn to discipline myself to turn off notifications on my phone, willfully ignore the stats until certain designated times and focus the very limited time I have on specific goals. Also on that note, making sure I’m setting achievable goals. Great reminder for me.

  33. Hi, This was a good blog post for understanding a basic concept in simple words. Indeed, in not only applies to online business but in aspects of our day to day life.
    The best method for stopping myself from comparison is to being mindful and focus on the present moment.
    Even though it seems easy but refraining oneself from comparison is one of the most difficult but productive thing.

  34. Nedra says:

    I really enjoyed this post. By following influencers too much, it could undoubtedly cause undue stress. We have to realize that this is how they make their living.

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