Escaping ruts

Falling into a rut to me is like losing badly at a computer game. To begin with, everyone starts on zero points and you battle to get to the top of the leaderboard. Maybe 15 minutes in you are 3rd or 4th out of 10. But then you start dying a lot. Suddenly you’re 8th. 9th. 10th. Everyone seems to be scoring points more easily than you. Now they’re way ahead of you — it’ll be way to hard to catch back up. That’s it — I quit!

It’s like, we are constantly comparing ourselves to others in a kind of game of life, and if we fall behind too much it’s easy to “rage-quit” — to stop trying or just start cruising. Everyone seems so far ahead it’s not even worth trying.

When others seem way too far ahead

This to me is a flawed way of thinking that is bred into us during school. Everything there is carefully quantified — school marks — placing in athletics — leadership positions. Eg, you get so far behind maths you think “what the hell — it’ll take me ages just to get the stage other kids were at a month ago — why even try?”

An adult sees it similarly:

  • Why try and start a business — it’ll take forever to get even close to succeeding
  • Why bother going to the gym — it’ll take months before I see any change — everyone else started ages ago
  • No point learning that new skill I always wanted to learn — Bob has been doing it since childhood and I’ll never come close to being as good as him
  • No point trying to get to the senior level position at work — those other guys are way more skilled than me

It’s a flawed way of viewing the world — comparing yourselves to other humans in your awareness. The reason being, it’s not about the end game — it’s about the journey.

Your goal is simply to improve yourself. Get to the next level of your OWN game. Comparing yourself to others is a pointless exercise, because it boils very much down to luck who you happen to be aware of. If, at school, your classmates all happened to be extremely good at maths — you may have given up in your race to keep up with them. Had you not given up, you would’ve done fine anyway — it was merely your comparing yourself to them that threw you off course.

You could have just of easily had classmates who were bad at maths — then you’d have been top of the class all the way through. You may have even done worse than if you had been last all the time with the talented classmates — but your comparing yourself to others warps your reality.

Here’s another way to think of it: if you think someone else is better than you at something and you wish you had what they had — it is almost guaranteed that they also commit the same about of time in their head being jealous about someone else. For example, you might idolise a friend who climbed the career ladder and is now happily married in a large house and new car. But that friend is busy spending the SAME amount of time idolising and being jealous about someone they know at work, who happened to be further ahead than him. Or perhaps he idolises someone who is living the single life and traveling the world, unshackled from a relationship or committed job. Comparing people is circular, recursive, wasting. It’s like there is a part of the consciousness purely cordoned off for jealousy — it can only be filled by a “grass is greener” type person whom you wish you could be. The only thing you can really do is ignore it. Don’t visit that part of the brain. Or remind yourself of it’s insanity.

The only person to you can compare yourself to is yourself. Yesterdays self is your benchmark. If you can do better than yesterdays self, then you are on a upward path.

Comparing against yesterdays self

When you only have to beat yesterdays self you can easily gain momentum, and move forward. Do 30 day challenges — gym 2 times a week for 30 days, talk to someone new at work every day for 30 days — study 20 minutes a day for 30 days…the opportunities to move forward are endless. Nobody else matters.

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