Quit “Keeping Up” – How to Stay Focused in an Age of Comparison
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Hands up if this is you…
….the neighbour gets a new car, and you think “hey! I’m due for an upgrade, too!”
…your brother seems to buy something new every weekend…barbeque, patio furniture, shed, outdoor speakers… and you think “I deserve a nice outdoor space!”
…you notice that your work friend is constantly rocking the latest styles and you feel frumpy and outdated.
Comparison is no joke!
It can be hard to stay focused in an age of comparison! That is to say, it can be hard to ignore what everyone else is doing and not feel ‘less than’. The inner critic is powerful business, and learning to silence the voice of comparison is a challenge, to say the least.
Maybe this is why there are so many Pinterest-worthy quotes about this topic?
In a culture of business and more/more/more, it can be challenging to slow down and examine your life.
We see people with things we want – newer vehicles, bigger homes, perfectly curated Pinterest feeds – and it is HARD to focus in on our own lives.
For example, I remember when I was still in University, scraping by on student loans (blech) and my part-time job, I would visit friends in a different city regularly. Every time I was there, we would go for dinners, or they’d buy some new fun thing at Costco; money never seemed to be an issue. Meanwhile, I watched them using their credit cards with ease, remortgaging their house when things got tight, never thinking twice about the growing balance or the interest rates.
I wanted that life. I wanted that “freedom”!
However, I had NO idea what was going on behind the scenes. That behaviour continued for years and years, and eventually, you guys? They went bankrupt! They were spending way more money than they were making, their lifestyle didn’t align with their income, and eventually, it caught up with them!
From my outsiders perspective, I thought they were the epitome of strong finance. They had all the things they wanted, they never complained about being on a dreaded budget, and money never seemed to be an issue at all. But wow, was I wrong.
My perspective as an outsider didn’t show the cracks and stress and misery happening on the inside.
I’m sure you can think of people in your own life who are reckless with money. Further, I’m sure you have had moments (maybe MANY) where you saw people buying new things and wanted to do the same thing.
Keeping up with the Joneses, it’s called – trying to match the spending of your neighbours or your friends, just for the sake of staying at their level.
You guys! The Joneses? They’re broke!
The neighbours who bought the new car? STILL paying it off years later.
The couple who used their Visa with reckless abandon? Bankrupt.
The family down the street who renovated their house and went on a trip to Europe last year and seem to be going for dinners at amazing restaurants every other weekend? THEY’RE BROKE!
It’s none of my business!
I didn’t realize that all these people were maxing out their credit limits, because I only had an outsiders perspective on their life. But you guys? It was none of my business!
When you spend all of your time comparing your life to other people’s, you lose sight of the joy right in front of you in your own life! Quit comparing and wishing for what other people have. You have no idea what that life looks like on the inside, and you’ll never find your own joy while you are staring at someone else’s life!
How to curb comparison?
Focus on gratitude
When you are grateful for the things that you DO have, it is tough to be jealous of the things you don’t.
Build a gratitude practice into your life. I start every day writing down five things I am grateful for. This sets my mind up for a positive day, right from the start. We also share something we are thankful for at bedtime, ending the day with grateful hearts.
I can’t stress this enough. When you are thankful for what you have, you see less of what you DON’T have.
Keep your eyes on YOUR goals
It seriously doesn’t matter what your sister, the neighbours, or the guy down the hall in your office are spending their money on. If they bought a new trailer for this summer and you’re still rocking a tent, if they did a complete house renovation last year and you’re looking at chipped paint or the carpets that you swore you were going to get rid of when you bought the house eight years ago, if they always have new-bigger-better things!
They also (probably) have new-bigger-better credit card bills.
But we don’t see that part of their story, so it’s best to focus on our own lives.
If you want to renovate your house – start saving! Set a goal, break it down into smaller steps, and start rocking it with some intensity.
Look at YOUR life and decide what you want to get out of it. First, I decided I didn’t want to be in debt anymore. Then I put my head down and got to work. My sole focus for a straight year was the balance of our debts, and getting that balance down to zero. I didn’t take the time to look up and see what anyone else was doing, because I didn’t care! I was focused on my goals and making wins for my family!
And honestly, stop worrying about what the Jones’ are doing – because they are drowning in debt!
Limit social media
Social media has its benefits. I love that my family and friends get to stay connected and have a quick sneak peek into the highlights of my life.
But let’s be clear on something: it is the HIGHLIGHTS reel. I’m not posting my Thursday afternoon breakdown when the exhaustion of real life kicks me in the butt. I’m not posting pics of my five-year-old screaming that he never wants to see me again because I asked him to put on his PJs. (He was NOT tired, you guys. Obviously!)
It is a slippery slope to scroll through curated homes, happy family vacays, and the so-called perfection that we are all guilty of posting to social. Myself included.
By no means am I discouraging the use of all social media!
However, I want you to do that scrolling with the constant reminder in your head that you do not know what the inside of that life looks like.
If you find that you follow accounts that are making it difficult for you to stick to your budget, ask yourself – do I need to follow them?? Does this bring me joy? Does this motivate and inspire me?
“Unfollow” is just a click away!
Surround yourself with like-minded people
I can’t stress this enough. Getting out of debt is hard. Working your butt off to get in shape is hard and choosing to be your best self? Hard! Making any lifestyle change that goes against the norm? You guessed it! It takes HARD work.
Don’t make it harder on yourself by spending all your time with people who pull you in the opposite direction of your goals! Find a tribe of humans who will hold you accountable and celebrate your successes!
You are welcome to join our Facebook Group if you need a community of people who are getting intentional with their money too.
Similarly, if you are looking for more motivation and insight into this whole topic – check out Rachel Cruze’s book Love Your Life Not Theirs. It’s an excellent read, all about the struggles of staying intentional with your finances in a time of comparisons (#blessed) and keeping up.
Look to yourself
Most importantly, when you look back at the end of each day, the only person you should be trying to be better than is yourself. Set goals, work your butt off to achieve them, be kind along the way.