Every so often, I’ll read something or watch something that makes me believe that we as a species are getting better. Things like healthy, sustainable eating, Kid President videos, and mainstream workouts receiving so much attention are all at least attempts to build a more awesome world for us and for future generations.
But there’s one major theme that’s starting to really piss me off: Everybody wants to write about how unhappy my generation is today.
It’s at the point where it’s probably self-fulfilling, like the chart above, from an amazing post about this unhappiness stuff on the blog wait but why. That person is utterly doomed to be miserable.
I’m a Millennial. I’m Not a Special Snowflake. And Everyone Needs to Stop Thinking They Are. (Companies and Individuals Alike.)
This is key for me to drill into my own head and others into theirs. Why? Because if I compare myself to others AND believe that I’m the most special thing ever, then I’m doomed to be unhappy.
Being driven by recognition and public sharing of everything and the satisfaction of more Twitter followers is like digging a hole in dry sand. You can work harder than everyone and read every blog and tweet everything and get promoted at work or attend the most networking events in the world … only to realize you’ve actually conceded ground, not gained. More content and news and strategies and thought leaders have emerged. More awesome quotes were shared and articles published and talks given.
There is no finish line. And all you’ve done is spew out a few little wins and short-term gains because you could see the immediate impact.
Plus, it’s just plain unhealthy comparing yourself to others as a measure for success. You don’t control them.
SUCCESS MEANS BEING COUNTERINTUITIVE WITH WHERE YOU FOCUS YOUR ENERGY
Here’s the problem: the desire to measure yourself against what you see online, whether from friends, colleagues, “influencers,” or “thought leaders,” leads you to favor quicker wins where success is visible right away.
Big shocker, right? Our generation loooves short term gains and immediate satisfaction.
But then we never work on anything meaningful. We never care about writing anything high quality as writers, because the shorter stuff gets shared just as much. We never care to build a business that lasts forever, because the startups getting bought are written about in TechCrunch. We never take time off just to focus on ourselves and our families, because we need to have a constant online presence to be a “thought leader” (fart noise).
But a better way to achieve actual success is to focus on the things that don’t actually show it right away. For instance, as a writer (I always want to put “aspiring” first, but maybe it’s less positive that way), it’s important that I actually write every day, just for me.
I COULD spend that time writing about the buzz du jour (19 Tips and Tricks for Better Content Marketing) because I think will get shared and get me more followers, but that’s a hollow, shallow, quick win. Instead, I should push myself and my style and write what I love, because I’ll be better for it longer term.
The wrong approach is to do something that I measure against others (who’s the best at writing viral content and building a network?). The right approach is that I do something I measure against myself (did this activity improve me and my skills and happiness?).
Because the latter (which I believe firmly is the better) approach lacks immediate results, it’s important to occasionally reflect: Am I better now? Did I grow? Pick up a new skill? Are things easier when tackling the same projects?
SUCCESS MEANS MEASURING YOUR SUCCESS AGAINST ONLY YOU
Who cares what others are doing or saying? You don’t control them. You control you. So if you want to measure yourself against yourself, refocus the angst and frustration of not being better than others against the goal of trying to be a better version of you and where you want to go.
So, with all due respect to you, while I might respect what you’re up to, it just no longer matters. But don’t misunderstand:
It’s not you. It’s me.
I’m a millennial, or whatever the hell you want to call me, and I approve this message.
Image credit: wait but why