With today’s social media it is easy to see what is going on with friends, family, acquaintances, and even total strangers. It is so easy to look at what everyone else is doing and feel discouraged about your own progress. How we judge our progress, our life, our success, or our value needs to be compared only to what we did in the past up to now. If we are making progress by our own measures, against our own past performance, or even according to our own goals, then we are a success. We will always do better than some and not as well as others.
My husband and I joined a Spring Fling Trail Challenge. The goal is to hike 75 miles from March through May. With this there is a Facebook page for everyone to post and share their hikes. People all over the United States have been excitedly showing their progress. People are posting that they just did a “short” 4.5 mile hike. There are a lot of people who are sharing 7+ mile hikes. Some post only pictures and no mileage and still other are posting hikes just over a mile. It is easy to understand how those who are clocking shorter hikes could feel less successful than those who are marching away on much longer treks. In light of this the only person any of us should be comparing ourselves too, is ourself. It is the only true gauge of our progress or success.
What really matters for Marty and I is that we are getting outside and enjoying the beauty of nature. The challenge keeps us motivated to get out there. We are improving our bodies strength and endurance with each hiking trail we complete and we are getting to see some of the most beautiful scenery. The State Parks near us look very different in the snow, then they did in the bright light of summer. Slowly but surely we are making gains. In December we didn’t hiking. January we only did 3 hikes with less than 3 miles logged. February, we got out there 15 times for almost 20 miles. Now in March, 5 hikes has us just under 7.5 miles. We could compare ourselves to those individuals who have done in one hike, what it took us 5, or we could look at how much we have progressed since December and celebrate our success. We’ll celebrate us.
Another thing to look at, with all of this, is the amount of effort. A hike along a flat clear trail, is not the same as a hike with multiple elevation changes and rough terrain. This is true of all areas of your life where you may be making progress. Everyone is different and just looking at one aspect of something, like mileage, does not tell the whole story when it comes to effort put forth. If my goal was to cook a homemade lasagna dinner, that is great. Though there are many of things that play into this. Is homemade, to you, defined as putting it from the freezer into your oven at home? Is it using boxed noodles and sauce and assembling at home? Are you making the sauce by simmering it for hours? What about the noodles, homemade or store bought? Did you raise the meat and vegetables? You see that not all home cooked lasagna meals are created equal. Also, if I have been making lasagna for 30 years the effort for me will not be the same as someone who has only cooked a few things from scratch. This is why it is important to only judge your improvement based on yourself. Otherwise the comparison is just not fair. Have you seen the posts on social media of the cool looking cakes and then someone posts what theirs turned out like when they tried to make it? It wasn’t an apples to apples comparison because the original cake maker has likely made hundreds of cute cakes.
There will always be someone able to do more, have more, have a better life, be more fit, have a more seemingly glamorous career. It is important to remember the things we see on social media are snapshots in time. They do not tell us the whole story about someone else’s journey through life. Trying to compare our life against theirs is not fair to us or them. It is not a good measure of the progress we are making and have made. It does not help our happiness. A wise young woman shared with me that she decided to leave social media and since doing so she is so much happier. She is no longer inundated with everyones perfect appearing lives.
You are amazing! You make progress and grow everyday. Look at where you were last week, last month, 3 years ago! There may be areas of your life where you have lost some ground, but that is okay. It means there are areas of opportunity for improvement. What are the areas you want to improve? Take small bites at progress towards your outcomes, it makes for an easier time. Pick one area or maybe a few small areas, look realistically at where you are, were you have been and then where you want to go. Then set a realistic goal. For example, it is realistic that I can hike 75 miles between March first and the end of May. It would not be realistic for me to log 15 miles of hiking every weekend, although that is perfectly realistic for others. So your goal needs to fit you.
Know yourself, be true to yourself, and judge yourself on your own progress and no one else. Be proud of where you are, compared to where you have been. Set realistic goals for yourself. Remember that 3 steps forward and 2 steps back is still a step ahead of where you were. Slow and steady wins the race. You can do this. The only race that is worth it in the end is the race against your self. Your journey does not need to look like anyone else’s. Your journey is your journey. Be proud of your progress! Share it on social media if you like, because it is something to be proud of. Share and celebrate other peoples’ success! What a beautiful world it is when we all celebrate each other but not judge ourself against them. A rose and a daisy are both beautiful flowers. No point in comparing them. Just enjoy the beauty of each of them doing their own thing.
Thank you for reading my blog today. May you have many successes to celebrate, that feel good to you. Your success is for you and you alone.