Understand that you don’t know the whole story
A crucial first thing to remember is that when you do slip into the habit of comparing yourself to others in your group or department, what you might not be appreciating is what happens behind the scenes when a major success is celebrated. You never know what is really going on for someone else, or their challenges and struggles.
It’s natural for us to share our success by celebrating the highlights, and leaving out the trouble and hardship that got us there, both in an effort to cope with it and to allow others to simply enjoy the outcome. So, the next time you tell yourself ‘They make it look so easy!’, remember that they do just that: make it look easy.
Focus on and invest in yourself
Coming back to the issue, by comparing yourself to others, you lose the focus and time you need to look after your own work. You don’t publish by beating yourself up over not having submitted that manuscript yet – you publish by focusing on publishing! Rather than be demotivated by what you perceive to be a lack of effort on your part, celebrate how far you’ve come and take the news of your colleague’s publication as a motivator.
Take a moment for yourself to process your feelings, then take stock of what you’ve done so far and what else needs to be done. Get organised, make a to-do list and before you know it, you, too, will have a publication-worthy manuscript, waiting to be submitted!
Work to your own pace
An important thing to keep in mind when reflecting on your progress is that the only person that can meaningfully set goals for you is you. That is to say, other people in your field may have certain advantages that you don’t have that allow them to progress faster than you. This does not mean that your work is of lesser quality; it just means that you’re working to your own pace. This pace, so long as it is of sufficient standard, is completely acceptable, while also being comfortably attainable for you.
However you choose to conduct yourself in a workplace and to stay motivated, it is best to avoid comparisons and to celebrate your achievements as measured to your own standards. Don’t let yourself get demotivated by what seems to come so easily to everyone else, because usually, it doesn’t.