Hey Feministas! Today’s post was written by Taylor Gordon who is a talented finance writer who talks about making and saving money over at Tay Talks Money. Check out her tips below on how to handle your competitiveness in ways that aren’t detrimental to your career.
I can admit it. My competitive spirit nearly caused my freelance writing business to fail before it even started. Before this experience, I always considered competitiveness a valuable character trait. I figured it could push me forward in all areas of life. Instead, it caused some major mental roadblocks in my career. Now, this isn’t to say that competition is all bad. However, there are instances where being too competitive can get in the way of your progress.
Sometimes You Need Others to “Put You On”
People you think of as competition can actually be your greatest asset. Seriously, you can both win. I learned pretty quickly as a freelancer that just like Sway, I don’t have all the answer. In fact, sometimes I have no answers.
After I launched my business in 2014, I searched the internet to scope out other sites like mine to see what I was up against. The search brought up hundreds of other women in my field already rocking it and working with established brands I wanted to work for. I felt a rush of anxiety and close to tears I contemplated quitting entirely. I mean, how could I compete with all these well-known people that companies already want to work with?
The solution to my dilemma was making honest connections with people who already forged the path. Then, I asked for referrals. People with career success are much more willing to help a sista out than you think. Had I not swallowed my pride and asked for an invite to the party, I would still be sitting in an empty room begging for work.
The moral of this story? Don’t watch from the sidelines and think you have to take the “L” (loss) if other people are winning. Join their team.
You Can Miss Opportunities to Learn From a Pro
Sure, it’s possible to chart your own path without help but it can be a lonely journey.
Countless others have travelled the very same road as you. They have the practical experience to offer you sound advice. Skip the trial and error and use these people as resources instead of competition. It’ll save you a crazy amount of time and frustration.
Don’t worry, asking for advice isn’t a sign of a weakness. It took me nearly a while to realize that admitting to having trouble doesn’t mean I’m inadequate. When I finally reached out for help, my business progressed in six months more than it had in an entire year.
Furthermore, you may not give yourself enough credit. You probably have valuable information to swap with your career “rival.” Your strengths may be their weaknesses and you can build a relationship that’ll help both of you thrive.
Competition Can Lead You to Compare
If you’re always competing, you’re also always checking the scoreboard to see who’s farther ahead. Be careful, this can kill your self-esteem. In life, there will always be someone doing bigger or better things than you. Similarly, you’ll always be doing bigger or better things than someone else.
“Comparison is an act of violence against the self.” – Iyanla Vanzant
Are you wreaking havoc on your own ego? Get off the merry go’ round of habitual comparison. And always remember, the success of others never diminishes your own accomplishments. If you want to be competitive with anyone, let it be yourself. Set the bar higher and higher and challenge yourself to beat each goal you set.
What Should You Do Now?
It’s unrealistic to have positive thoughts all the time or completely remove competition from your life, but you can make self-love a habit. Listen to your gut and pay attention to how you feel. If competition makes you stressed, distance yourself from where it appears in your life.
If social media triggers competition, log off.
If catty nonsense at work triggers competition, keep to yourself.
If a certain family member is your trigger, put some distance there.
When you can’t avoid career competition for promotions or projects, measure success on what you learn, how the overall experience positively impacts you and how far you’ve come.
Taylor K. Gordon is a personal finance writer and Huffington Post contributor living in the nation’s capital. She shares tips on how to save more money and make more money with side businesses on the blog, TayTalksMoney. Follow her on Twitter: @taytalksmoney.