I often feel behind in life and I know I’m not alone.
I haven’t paid off enough debt.
I don’t own a home yet.
Other people my age seem to have things together.
My business still isn’t thriving.
I haven’t traveled to many places.
I don’t have enough invested.
I’m not doing enough.
I’m sure you have your own custom list of negative, defeatist thoughts about where you are in life.
Naturally, our human brains resort to negativity. We focus on the ‘bad’ things rather than all of our accomplishments and good happenings.
It’s a vicious thought pattern that I want to encourage you to end today.
Thinking you ‘should’ be somewhere else at this point in your life is completely useless.
You’re behind according to who?
Whose ruler are you using to measure your life accomplishments?
Because last I checked there is no official timeline we need to follow.
There are norms that are presented to us via our family, peers and by society, but none of them are correct.
There is also your own expectation of where you should/would be in life.
At 18 you probably thought you would have your life figured out in your 20s and everything would be amazing.
However, life happens and things don’t always go according to plan.
Having achieved a specific accomplishment by a certain age is BS.
“You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way and the only way, it does not exist.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche
I think the biggest problem comes when we compare ourselves to others.
You login to Facebook or Instagram and see that girl from high school just got engaged. You see that guy you graduated with got promoted…again. Your friend just bought a house. That random girl you followed who started a business in the same niche as yours made over $10,000 this month.
And so you start to question your progress. You question your abilities.
All these other people seemingly have their life together.
Someone will always be better than you. Stronger than you. Richer than you. And so on.
And you will always be better, stronger, richer, etc. than someone too.
But comparison is often unfair and irrelevant.
You don’t know the other person’s story, circumstances, struggles, etc.
It’s natural for us to compare ourselves to others but that leaves us unhappy and we end up taking the things in our life for granted.
You will always lose in the battle of comparison because their results don’t matter. Focusing on yourself, your journey, and your goals is more important.
“Comparison is the thief of all joy.”
Not everything is as it seems
Success and milestones of others can look appealing, but we don’t know the full story.
It’s easy for people to hide stress, problems, and struggles.
Your friend with the new car, house, outfits, vacations, etc. may be 6-figures in debt. Or maybe they inherited money. And even if they are working a high-earning job, they could be absolutely miserable.
Sure your co-worker just bought a house but they could be in a failing marriage or struggling with health problems.
Their new business may be bringing in $10K a month, but what if they literally have been working on it strategically during every waking hour?
It can be easy to forget that many of the people who appear to have everything in life, don’t.
Most people display what they WANT you to see, not the reality. Always remember that.
We all have a different journey
Each of us are unique.
We have different parents. Our genetic makeup is unique. We were raised differently. Some of us struggled in school, some thrived. Some of us were taught how to do certain things in life, many of us weren’t. Different things drive us. We have different weaknesses, habits, strengths, relationships, thoughts, experiences, etc.
There is so much beauty in that.
The only thing that is important is YOUR journey. Your path is exactly as it should be.
Don’t resent others for where they ended up, that is none of your business.
Maybe it’s unfortunate that you didn’t learn about money earlier. Maybe you thought you were making the right decision. Maybe that relationship was a huge mistake.
It is time to accept that.
HOW TO STOP FEELING BEHIND IN LIFE
Focus on being the best version of yourself
The only person you should be comparing yourself to is who you were yesterday. Focus on yourself, not anyone else.
We can all work on ourselves, our abilities, our life goals, etc. at our own pace.
If you struggle with feeling proud of yourself and your accomplishments, question that.
Is it just your mindset? Or could you work on taking more action?
I am a firm believer that we should never stop improving. There is SO much opportunity for growth and it’s amazing how much we can transform.
Decide to make choices every day that make you proud and get you where you want to be.
And if some days you find it difficult to be better, remind yourself that you did your best.
In the great little book, The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz says,
“Under any circumstance, always do your best, no more and no less. But keep in mind that your best is never going to be the same from one moment to the next. Everything is alive and changing all the time, so your best will sometimes be high quality, and other times it will not be as good.”
RELATED POST: How to Become the Best Version of Yourself
I find that gratitude is often the solution to any problem.
We often forget about the amazing things we already have accomplished or possess because we’re so focused on achieving a goal or on other people.
Recognize that you may not feel grateful for something in your life at the moment because you long for something better.
Have you ever noticed how you want something so bad and you finally get it and that feeling of excitement and happiness disappears?
This is known as hedonic adaptation, which is a theory that people tend to return to their baseline of happiness despite major life events or changes.
Even if you think you would be happier or feel better “over there,” you may not. There will always be another thing you feel behind on.
Take the time to practice gratitude daily. Look back at your accomplishments and appreciate those. Be grateful for the things you already have (your car, your apartment, your significant other, your job). Even find the positives in your adversities. They helped to mold you into who you are.
For example, my debt is often why I “feel so behind.” I tend to think that the debt is holding me back.
However, I’m SO grateful for my debt. Without my debt I wouldn’t have learned so much about finances. I wouldn’t have set the big financial goals I have now.
Create better systems
You have all these goals and places you want to be right?
But when you just focus on those things, you tend to feel impatient, frustrated, and discouraged.
Instead, focus on creating systems that get you where you want to be.
If you want to buy a house, how can you save more money? How can you make more money? How can you work on increasing your credit score?
If you want to find a better job, what skills do you need to develop? How often do you need to be practicing or studying something? What connections can you make?
You’ve got to take a look at what you’re doing now, determine what habits/systems you need to put in place instead, and just take action.
The journey is the most important part.
Don’t dwell on the past
You can look back at the past and think, “I should have, I could have, I would have,” all day long but what is that going to do?
I know it’s easy to resort to, but don’t dwell on it.
Everything happened exactly as it was supposed to. How do we know that? Because it happened.
You’re dwelling on your past options that literally cannot be changed.
Of course you may look back and understand that you could have done differently, but you can simply see it as a lesson you learned from and make a different decision if that comes up again.
You’re taking away from your present AND future by focusing on the past.
Focus on doing your best now and you can eliminate the suffering.
I would say the majority of individuals at any age feel or have felt behind in life before.
It’s interesting because that is literal proof that there is no metric for where we are in life.
You can plan your life out to a T but none of it is ever guaranteed. But that’s the beauty of it.
We get to go on our own unique journey and appreciate that others’ may achieve something before we do.
Just enjoy the process and stop being so hard on yourself!!