Focus On Your Own Journey

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When striving towards their goals many people feel an almost irresistible pull to constantly measure themselves against their contemporaries. They tell themselves they’re just trying to insure that they’re on the right track. But really it’s about competition. This sort of adversarial attitude is a bad idea from our psychological point of view, even when environmental contingencies are set up to foster competition and to reward those who best their adversaries, as is usually the case in our individualistic Western culture.

When the adversarial attitude enters the picture the personal journey of growth and self-actualization necessarily takes a back seat to the competitive urge. What matters is besting your adversaries. Whatever it is you’re pursuing simply acts as the vehicle for this triumph or failure. But most people who become masters at anything get there by focusing on and loving what they do. It’s the work itself that’s reinforcing to them, not doing better or worse than everybody else.

You can’t be focused on your personal journey and your competitors at the same time. And when you start to constantly compare yourself to them, favorably or unfavorably, you get stuck in the usual way of doing things. Your chances of offering something unique, something that manifests your own individuality and creativity, go out the window. Your work becomes a better or worse approximation of everything else that’s out there. Much better to focus on your own journey, to feel positively reinforced throughout the process as you revel in your continued growth, and to hopefully offer something to the world that’s original, something that actually does end up separating you from the pack.