Unless we keep up with our neighbours, we feel like a failure. Throughout our lives, we have been taught to compete. We habitually compare ourselves to others and try to beat out our peers. As children playing sports, we were advised to hone our skills to become a star player. In school, we were warned that higher grades would help us land a high paying position. And when we entered the working world, we learned that survival depended on beating out our competition. Ironically, however, extremely successful people don’t compare themselves to others. They work at their own pace and do things their own way.

It can be useful to compare yourself to others at times. Knowing that a goal is attainable is often a powerful motivator, for example. Several scientific discoveries were slow to materialize because they were thought impossible. But once the goals were deemed feasible through comparisons to others in the scientific community, progress was accelerated.

That said, comparisons are often harmful to your ego, especially if you believe that you absolutely must do as well as a peer. If you try to meet an external standard, yet do not have the skills or resources, you’ll end up feeling like a failure. You’ll feel cheated by life and may not make the best of what resources and talents you do have. Many people spend their lives feeling bitter about what life “should” have given them.

Comparing yourself to others is likely to make you feel unpleasant emotions, such as jealously or envy. Upon seeing that you are doing relatively poorly compared to a fellow trader, you are likely to think distracting thoughts such as, “Why can’t I do as well?” or “I must not be as good of a trader as I had thought,” Such thinking does nothing to keep you focused on honing your trading skills.

Successful people, in contrast, don’t compare themselves to others. They don’t care how others are doing. They follow their own timeline, follow their own passion, and look inward for where to go next. It’s crucial to approach trading by honing your skills on your own terms. Everyone has his or her own resources and background. You are unique. You are the one who must find a method that matches your aptitudes and personality. 

Don’t look at anyone else’s record but your own. You may be tempted to compare your current performance to that of others. That’s how it’s been throughout your life, and it’s not easy to change a lifelong pattern overnight. But it is useful to control this urge. Everyone has a different learning curve. Each trader has his or her own personal history or circumstances that he or she brings into trading. People differ in terms of personality, investment capital, life experiences, and the market conditions under which they trade. Any or all of these factors can influence one’s trading performance.

It makes little sense to beat yourself up because you haven’t achieved a level of performance equal to someone else who had advantages that you didn’t have. In the end, the only person you need to compare yourself to is you. If you make any comparisons at all, it should be against your own past performance, not someone else’s.

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