Confessions of a Competitive Gal

Theodore Roosevelt was a smart guy. How do I know this? Because he’s the one who said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Image courtesy of flickr

Yup. And I should know. I may not appear like someone who keeps score (or maybe I do, haha), but I’m about as competitive as a quiet, non-threatening Asian girl can be. 😉

As you can imagine, this trait does not bode well for someone who works in sales. Yes, I spend a lot of time writing books, but the other part of my job is selling them. And boy, is that part hard.

Ever since hubby and I published the book we wrote together, he’s been asking me every day how many copies we’ve sold. When I showed him the latest results, all he could say was, “Wow, it’s not easy to sell books.” Haha. Amen to that!

There are so many methods that authors use to sell their books. Some spend hundreds of dollars on ads every month. Others release a new book every 4-6 weeks!  You can imagine how competitive this industry is.

For many authors, we write because we dislike numbers, but selling books is all about the numbers. The number of words you can crank out in a day, how many sales you make during any given week, your author ranking in your particular genre. It’s so, so easy to get caught up in the numbers.

I found myself getting caught up in this trap recently. I heard of some bestselling authors writing one to two thousand words a day, and wondered why I couldn’t do the same? Assuming I could keep it up, I’d be able to crank out a book every other month—at a minimum. Sure, it would mean some late nights, but I’m a night owl already, so why not?

Well, after attempting this kind of lifestyle for a few weeks, I realized why not. 😛 I realized the very reason that I had started writing—for the pure joy of it!—had all but disappeared from my heart. I had become a writing machine—cold and robotic. I no longer looked forward to creating characters and storylines. I had lost my passion for words. And it was sad!

After reevaluating my priorities, I took a step back—way back!—and decided to stop. To stop writing for the sake of selling. To stop staying up so late. To stop comparing myself to other authors who are able to write more and sell more than me.

And do you know what happened? I found joy in writing again. 🙂

The thing is, we are all on our own journey in life. No two people are the same. That’s the beauty and wonder of God’s handiwork, that we are unique beings created with our own set of abilities and passions and strengths. There’s no need to compare ourselves to another because how can you compare two completely different things? We are each meant to do what we’re good at and what we are able to handle. It’s as simple as that. (Kind of.) 😉

So, here’s to doing your own thing, wherever your passions lie, and to doing them for the pure joy of it.

What do you do for the pure joy of it?

It’s None of Your Business

In our house, our kids get paid to do chores. We started enforcing “child labor” when our son began wanting to buy everything in the toy aisles at Target (well, mainly the ones that have sounds and lights or transform to become something really cool). So, now instead of us paying for their gadgets, they buy their own. Whenever they help out (ie. wash the car or mop the floor), I reward them in the form of praise and coins while hubby gives out bills (yes, he’s way more generous than I am). 

One day after the kids had finished working and gotten paid, our son came over to me with a pensive look on his face.

“How much did you give C?” he asked.

Two thoughts rose in my mind. Uh, what? and Hello, it’s really not your business, dear.

His question kind of threw me off, though it really shouldn’t have surprised me. Our son is and always has been detailed and rule-based and dare I say it, square. On this particular day, he had noticed that he and C had been given different chores and that she also hadn’t done her work as quickly as he had (she had been a little whiny about it at first). That’s why he wanted to know whether or not they had received the same number of coins. 

Image courtesy of posterize/freedigitalpictures.net

Good question, kid. But I chose not to answer his question. This is what I said.

“You don’t need to worry about C. It’s up to me how much I want to give her. You just do your job and worry about yourself.”

“But how much did you give her?” he persisted in asking. Haha, did I mention he’s stubborn, too?

I just repeated my answer and moved on to another topic.

This incident however really made me think. It first reminded me of the parable from Matthew 20:1-16 about some workers in a vineyard who grumbled about how much they got paid in comparison to some other guys who hadn’t done as much work as they had (sound familiar?). Then, it got me thinking about how we humans just like to compare. We have this need to look at what we have and do and then look at what other people have and do. We then make assumptions and judgments not only about ourselves, but also about those other people, based on our comparisons. These assumptions may sound like: They must be so much happier than me, They must not have any problems, They don’t deserve what they have, Why can’t I have what they have, etc. 

But, and this is a BIG but – comparing gets you nowhere. Actually, let me rephrase that. The only place that comparing will take you is to the land of greed, envy, discontentment and unhappiness. And who wants to go there?

Instead of comparing (and complaining), we should focus our concerns on ourselves.

This is something I’ve been learning as a mom. Moms can be some of the most judgmental, harshest, yet insecure people out there (speaking from experience of course). We each think (or hope) our way of parenting is the best and we secretly compare ourselves to other moms to try to make ourselves feel better. Sometimes we do feel better, but most times we feel a lot worse.   

What I’ve realized though is that we are each on our own journey in life. We are all learning as we go along and there’s no use comparing our journey with someone else’s because we can only walk our own. We are only responsible for our own life, for what we’ve been given. So, why waste a second of it by worrying about what other people have and do? Let’s focus our time, energy and thoughts on our own journey. Celebrate how far you’ve come, the ways your experiences and abilities have shaped you, and continue making your journey the best it can be. 🙂

I had a hard time coming up with a song to go with this post, but I think Michael W. Smith’s “Place in this World” comes close to relaying the message of focusing on your own journey. It’s seriously an oldie, but goodie as you can tell from this video. 😉

In what areas do you compare yourself with others? How can you turn those comparisons into celebrations of your own personal growth?