How staying in your own lane can empower you and why you should stick to it
I can hear myself say this to my daughter.
“It’s your journey. You must choose your own path to discover a unique adventure.”
All of us have heard that or a similar phrase and as much as it might sound cliché, it is as accurate a statement as being told that life “is not a dress rehearsal.” Many of us are fortunate to have the opportunity to choose from options and create our own fate to some degree in the decision making process we adopt.
The choices we make will undoubtedly lead us to new opportunities and challenges in which we can learn and develop. We often say commonsensical and logical things to our children or those that learn from us, so why is it that we, as adults and teachers, might not take the same advice ourselves? It is easier said than done. When life is busy, people around us are doing the same thing and trying to achieve the same goals as us, sometimes doing better at it while we might be struggling, it is all too common to start comparing ourselves to others. It is at this time that things can quickly go downhill if not managed in a positively focused way.
When we compare ourselves to the next person, we run the risk of not fully understanding all of the facets involved. There is inevitably going to be times in which some people deliver more effectively than others at times, whilst the other person will have their peaks and troughs as well.
It is natural for our self-confidence to wane at times, we might even feel envious of others who are seen to be more successful that can lead to more negative feelings, with research carried out stating that mistrust can be bred from direct comparison of ourselves to others.
External factors, such as news and social media can play a big part in how we assume others ‘are’. It is often forgotten that fabrication of the truth, inflated realities and airbrushing occurs in all sorts of ways in the world. Everyone prefers to ‘appear’ in a certain way than perhaps what is, in fact, reality.
Whilst it can be helpful to learn from others, through both their successes and failures, it only serves us better to be able to ride our own wave, keep to our own lane and focus on our own personal objectives and goals in order to succeed in our own authentic way at a pace in which is comfortable to us at any given time (which will also be variable).
In order to do this, there must be focus on our part in a way that works best for us and even that is going to be a personal thing. Everyone focuses differently and it is up to us, as individuals, to realise how we can achieve our objectives in the best possible way.
As we achieve similar goals to one another, it is important to acknowledge that there are different ways that we can do that.
I might have a specific and particular way of getting a task done whilst a person completing the same exact thing could approach it completely differently.
Neither of us is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ as the steps taken to get the job done vary but with the same result achieved.
Self-belief is something that must always be encouraged because it is about our own mindset that allows us to feel confident to do what we do at any given time without worrying about the next person.
Together, with focus, it is important that we believe that the choices we make are the best for us as a person.
Take a sportsperson for example.
They have set their mind on achieving something quite specific: a personal best time, a medal or a championship title.
They know that, in order to realise their dream, the work they put into their training, their mindset and other external factors such as their lifestyle, diet and so on, will have a bearing on that result.
As that athlete continues their journey on their own path, they will undoubtedly experience peaks and troughs in their performance and they might get distracted by a competitor who trains with them closely.
Their rival might decide to do something slightly different in training, they might alter their schedule or follow a different diet.
By doing this, the athlete’s rival has demonstrated their own self-belief in trialling things to see what works for them and if changing things has a positive effect on their performance, allowing them to achieve faster times and better success.
It is naturally tempting to change everything the athlete has done in the past in order to compete with, keep up with and exceed expectations from others, including their rival.
It doesn’t work like that though.
What works for one person is unlikely to work for another and the quicker we realise that, the easier and more authentic our own journey will be.
Whilst I function far better in the early hours of the morning and often feel like I hit a brick wall by mid-afternoon, the next person is likely to feel quite different.
In order to create our own, unique journey it is only us, individually, that can tweak and change the things needed in order for it to work well for us.
That is easier said than done.
No matter how old we are or what experience we have, it is all too easy to compare ourselves to others.
Without contradicting all that I have said (I really do believe that we function in our own, unique ways that can accomplish as much as the next person), I do not discount the fact that we can learn from other people and can use their methods to adapt and refine our own ideas, learn from mistakes made and the successes achieved by others. By looking at others who inspire us and lead by example, there can be many positives taken from comparing ourselves to others.
By testing and slightly altering the ways in which we do things can develop us as people, teaching us the type of learner that we are and help us to tackle and overcome the next set of challenges that face us. We are never going to get things 100% right, there will always be things that we can improve on whether it is things we say or actions we take. However, learning as we develop is surely life’s biggest lesson. No one is likely to learn as much without making some mistakes along the way themselves. When we learn, we develop and it is through that we achieve the things we have set out to do.
A complete digression but an important anecdote... I shall always remember what my midwife advised me on the birth of my daughter.
She told me there would be many experts telling me what to do, how to do it and when because they either had children before me, or knew the latest ways of parenting, but it was vitally important to remember one thing.
She said with a directness that I shall never forget:
“Whatever is good for you and feels right, it will be the best for your baby.“
I understand this might be a little ‘off-piste’, however, I recall this simple piece of advice in most things I do to this day. That midwife was absolutely right. Our journey is our own. It is no one else’s.
The path we choose will certainly have its twists and turns, but provided we believe in what we are doing and the choices we make are right for us, our journey will be unique, genuine and one which we should have no regrets. So the next time we look over to our right to see someone doing the same thing as us in a different way, let’s learn from them but also have the self-belief in ourselves that our path creates our own journey and there is more than one way to peel an orange.
The moment we understand that doing things in a way that works for us, on our own path, creates a journey that leads to self-belief and empowerment.
If you would like to discuss the next steps of your journey, please get in touch.
Article: Avoiding This One Important Thing May Save You A Lot Of Self-Doubt
Psychology Today Article: https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/basics/social-comparison-theory