Do you find yourself constantly comparing yourself to other artists? Do you get secretly jealous when other musicians land cool gigs, win awards, and score lucrative press?
These are signs that you are playing the comparison game, a common trap that can send normally rational and level-headed artists into a tailspin.
No matter how well you’re doing in your career, you’ll always be able to find someone doing better. In other words, if you let the “comparison game,” and the crippling emotions that accompany it, invade your mental space, you may find yourself on a continuous emotional rollercoaster that can erode your confidence and keep you from making progress.
Luckily, there are tools you can use to help you avoid the comparison game, and tools to help you deal with the emotional rollercoaster if you do fall victim to playing the comparison game.
1. Celebrate Your Wins – No Matter How Small
I encourage you to celebrate your wins no matter how small or inconsequential they might feel at the time.
Celebrating wins, especially publicly, can have a profoundly positive effect on mindset, especially as the wins pile up week after week.
2. Celebrate Other People’s Wins
The other benefit to sharing weekly wins in a group is that you get to practice honoring the achievements of others. If you’re not too happy with your current progress, this can be a tough pill to swallow.
But learning to be truly happy about the progress of others can be a great character-building exercise. It’s also something you can grow into with practice.
At first, you might not feel genuinely happy for their success. Even if feelings of jealousy creep in, congratulate your peers anyway. And over time, if you keep exercising that “praise” muscle, there’s a great chance you’ll start to truly feel happy for them.
In addition, a little healthy competition is not a bad thing. Seeing what other artists have achieved can offer serious motivation that, with some focus and hard work, you can do the same.
3. Get Into An Abundance Mindset
Do you believe that every time another artist gets a gig, lands some great press, or wins over a fan, that there are now fewer of those opportunities for you? If so, you’re battling a scarcity mindset.
The flipside of this coin is the abundance mindset, where there are always plenty of gigs, press opportunities, fans, and everything else to go around.
Abundance means there is room for everyone to succeed. Having an abundance mindset can remove a huge burden from your shoulders. You don’t have to scramble to get there first or fight for attention with other artists. Your opportunities are out there waiting for you, regardless of what other artists are doing.
Of course, an abundance mindset isn’t an invitation to adopt a laissez faire attitude and stop working hard. But if you truly believe in abundance, you can nip comparison in the bud before it starts.
4. Block Comparison & Shut Down Negative Self Talk FAST
There will always be someone with more knowledge, experience, luck, and talent than you have, which is why it’s so easy to get caught up in the comparison game.
The first step to blocking comparison is recognizing when you’re doing it. When you call it out and put a label on it, you can stop comparison in its tracks before you let it get under your skin and into your head.
Take notice of what triggers you to compare yourself to others and teach your mind to react differently.
Easier said than done, right?
First, take note of what situations trigger your insecurity. Maybe it’s reading a certain Facebook feed, going to a particular venue, or reading a newsletter of an artist who brings out the green-eyed monster…
Nothing about these things is bad in itself. But for you, at least for now, they may be undesirable. Once you’ve built up your arsenal of self-confidence and have more control over your tendency to play the comparison game, then you can reintroduce these situations and see how you handle them.
5. Stay In Your Own Lane
Comparison can be insidious. It can creep in without your knowledge and mess with your head. So stay aware and be vigilant. The only kind of comparison that is productive is comparing your then to your now. Make each day or each week a “personal best.”
It can be discouraging to see fellow musicians posting positive, amazing, and picture-perfect stuff on social media. They talk about cool gigs, prestigious awards, top-notch music videos, hit songs, packed venues, etc.
It’s enough to make even the most accomplished artist play the comparison game.
But they’re showing the world only the results of their hard work, not the work it takes to get those results. And we definitely never see the failures, the setbacks, and the not-so-pretty pit stops along the journey to the finish line.
Don’t get caught up in comparing your “backstage” to their “frontstage.” Stay in your own lane and focus on doing the best you can do with what you’ve been given.
Flipping The Script On The Comparison Game
As you’ve probably figured out by now, comparison can actually be helpful instead of harmful. It’s all in the way you choose to approach it.
WIth an abundance mindset and the right framework, comparison can help you make serious progress in your career. The key is to stay in your own lane and use comparison to raise your personal bar on a periodic basis.
And if you can gracefully and wholeheartedly celebrate the accomplishments of your fellow artists, that will make your own wins even more satisfying.