by Meghan Bliss | Featured Contributor
Do you ever get down to the last few seconds on the microwave, realize you’re tired of waiting, and wrench the door open prematurely?
I do. All the time.
Why, though? I just waited for 53 seconds. Can’t I wait for seven more?
Oh, right. Instant gratification.
There’s something about instant gratification that screams to our culture. Do this now! Buy this now! Be this now! And with all of the virtual distractions we have these days, many people seem to have trouble sticking with something to completion. If it’s not quick enough, it’s not good enough. I’ve struggled with this myself.
It’s so easy to focus on quick fixes and five-second updates. You know, 140-characters or less. When I really want something, I want it yesterday. Can you relate? I don’t want to wait days, months, or even years to achieve my goal. I don’t want to go through the painful process of developing patience.
But for those of us who are entrepreneurs at heart, we eventually reach a point when we’re tired of watching other people do with their lives what we want to do with ours. We know we want to start that blog, open that business, or write that book.
But we also know it won’t happen overnight.
One of the biggest struggles I’ve faced as an author and blogger has been comparing my progress to others’ progress. I’ve spent too much time looking at what others have become instead of working on what I want to become. As I began to work through the roadblocks I faced, I discovered a word that changed my perspective: equanimity. It comes from a Latin word that means “to have an even mind.” It means practicing patience and stability, even in difficulty. Even in slow progress.
For me, it means that even though I haven’t reached my goals yet, I don’t need to be jealous or discouraged. I don’t need to give up.
As creatives and entrepreneurs, we have the (somewhat laborious) task of learning how to practice patience and persistence as we work toward our goals each day. We are lucky to do what we do, but just because we love what we’re building doesn’t mean the process is easy. Sometimes the simplest things can throw us off track, even if just for a moment. As an author, I have a bad habit of comparing my portfolio of books, which is still very small, to more experienced authors’ portfolios. I only started writing full-time a few months ago, so I realize it’s not fair for me to compare myself to someone who’s been writing for decades.
But I do it. All the time.
This is incredibly easy for us to do. It doesn’t take much effort to find another personal finance blogger whose website is more polished than yours. It doesn’t take much effort to find another wedding invitation designer who’s making more money than you.
And unless your name is Stephen King, Jodi Picoult, or J.K. Rowling, it doesn’t take any time to find an author with more books, more reviews, or more readers than you.
Welcome to the life of a creative entrepreneur. There’s no way to avoid comparison completely (unless you simply don’t care). There are tons of fellow dreamers at the table, but luckily the table is huge.
Sometimes I let myself have a moment of discouragement. But I don’t stay there. When that happens, I try to stop asking how Annie Author published five books last year alone, and I get to work on writing my own books instead. That’s my job, and doing my own job helps me stay focused on my progress, not others’.
My progress is unique to me, just as Annie Author’s is unique to her. Just like yours is unique to you. People progress at different speeds for different reasons. Your progress may look much different from someone else’s, but it’s supposed to. We each have our own lessons to learn along the way — among them, equanimity.
Keeping that in mind, it’s much easier to move forward.
What can you do today to move away from comparison and toward your ultimate goal?
Meghan Bliss is the owner and head writer at TheLadyinRead.com, a blog for women who read, write, and want to be read.
After almost four years in finance, Meghan quit her job to write full time. She spends her days blogging, writing novels, and trying to stay off of Pinterest. She also copyedits books, newsletters, manuals, and basically anything else you throw at her — including subtitles and restaurant menus. Her first novel will be released this year.
When she’s not writing or editing, you can find her reading, clumsily practicing the ukulele, or watching old sitcoms and superhero movies with her husband, cat, and baby-to-be.
And, as always, trying to find the perfect shade of red lipstick.