This past weekend I participated in my fourth half marathon. After battling a foot injury since January, I went into this race filled with doubt. I wasn’t really sure if I would be able to finish, but I knew I was determined to try.

I started the race with a couple of my running buddies. I knew I wouldn’t see them for long because, as I’ve gotten slower, they’ve gotten faster. A lot faster. Sure enough, before the 1 mile mark they were out of my sight, leaving me nearly 2 ½ hours to run alone…well, as alone as you can be in a race with 35,000 participants.  :)

This alone time gave me a lot of time to think. As I looked in front of me, there were people running for as far as I could see. There were literally thousands of other people doing exactly the same thing I was doing. As I gazed ahead at the sea of runners, it struck me that while I thought it was pretty awesome that I was running a half marathon, in comparison to the other 34,999 people around me, it was really nothing special at all.

Mini Marathon

But wait a minute, I thought. What does my race have to do with the other 34,999 people running with me? A few steps later I knew the answer: absolutely nothing.

If you’re someone who compares yourself to others, then you might frequently find yourself in the comparison trap that I almost fell into during my half marathon. The way to stay out of this trap is to know that what someone else does or doesn’t do has no impact on your success. Instead, the best way to move forward and get better is to make your only point of comparison yourself and your unique journey. What have you had to overcome to get where you are? Celebrate that! What does a successful next step look like for you? Identify it and then do it!

Mini Marathon Inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Half way through the race, we ran inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It’s a very long track!

During the half marathon I quickly decided to focus on what I had overcome to get to the starting line. That made this race matter to me, no matter how quickly (or slowly) I made it to the finish line. I decided to celebrate my determination to do the race, even though my foot wasn’t in great shape and my training hadn’t been as robust as it had been in past half marathons. Next, I decided to figure out what could make this race successful for me. It wasn’t going to be my fastest, which is my usual goal. So how could I re-frame success to make the race a positive one? I decided to focus on enjoying the race and taking it all in, something that I hadn’t done with past races where my goal was speed. I took the time to high five the kids and other spectators that were handing out high fives along the race course. I read spectator’s signs and acknowledged those who were cheering me on. And I made it a point to thank the volunteers at every water station. Due to foot pain, I had to walk the last 3 miles of the race. But it didn’t matter. Based on my new point of focus, the race was already a success.

Aby with medal after the race.

Back home after the race. The shirt says it all…Will. Finish. Indy.

Next time you find yourself falling into the comparison trap, I invite you to take a step back and change your point of focus. Stop worrying about everyone (or anyone) else and turn your focus to you. What have you had to overcome to get where you are? Celebrate it! What does a successful next step look like for you? Identify it and then do it!

It works, my friend. This was my slowest half to date, and yet in many ways it was the most rewarding.

How about you? Do you find yourself falling into the comparison trap? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.


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Aby Garvey is a creative organizing expert and simplify 101’s founder. She has created 14 online organizing classes, which she has been teaching since 2007, helping thousands of people around the world get organized. Aby loves to help people create positive change in their lives through her online classes and organizing eBooks.

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