Don’t compare your life to others: Understand the data!

Don't compare your life to others
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If you want to live a stressless life, don’t compare your life to others. Find out how world war 2 airplanes can help you understand your mentality better.


Why do we compare ourselves to others? This is a question I ask myself alot. And I see it getting asked on the internet in countless threads. In this post I will go over the survivorship bias which will help you to learn how to stop comparing yourself to others.

No doubt you saw some people achieve incredible feats of strength or others becoming rich with their side hustle overnight. I have to tell you, this isn’t an overnight success. It’s a long period of time of hard work. It’s putting in the work, not when everyone is watching, but when no one is watching. Putting in hours of your free time to reach the goals you set yourself.

I’ve fallen for it many times over – I saw YouTubers who make millions off of YouTube by “JUST” posting a 15-minute long video. But what did it take them to do it? They’ve grown their channel over years, reached a subscriber base, record hours of footage, and then edit it for hours again while scrapping so much of it, that in the end, only 15 minutes make it into the video. And think about how many people don’t make it.

Of course, you only hear from these successful people. That’s what this post is about – understanding that success doesn’t happen overnight. It requires patience, dedication, hard work, and luck.

Let’s go back to this YouTube example. Why do you only hear from these superstars? That’s because they fall under the survival bias.

What is survival bias?

Survival bias or survivorship bias, says, that people or things which we deem to be successful, overshadow all these which are not. This happens because we see these top-performers much more often on YouTube than we see these who only have 1 view on their channel.

Where does it come from?

Allied engineers in WW2 reinforced the armor on planes which came back from fights on points where they had many bullet holes.

The mathematician Abraham Wald understood, that it’s useless to do so because the planes came back despite the holes in the body. He suggested reinforcing the armor on the surfaces where no bullet’s struck the plane, because obviously the rest wasn’t critical, or the plane wouldn’t have been returned anyway.

There are plenty of more examples where you find survival bias. High competitive careers for example, of course, you heard about Bill Gates who dropped out of high school and became one of the most influential men in our recent history. But how many people drop out of high school, are equally talented and determined but they just didn’t make it because of random events or other things that are beyond their control.

Why is it a problem?

It demotivates. Simple as that. We all want to be great, we all want to do something incredible without lives.

The thing is, we start with our very own YouTube channel and we think, that after a week we have to have 10.000 views and at least 1000 subscribers. If this doesn’t happen (and let me be real, in most cases it won’t) we give up. We just stop with it because we think we cannot make it.

And believe me, I have been there. After my first few days without any traffic to this website, I thought about quitting, because I read so many success stories of people who had 10.000 pageviews after the same time.

But you see this post, so I obviously didn’t stop. Setting process-driven goals has helped me tremendously.

The solution

This will almost always overshadow anything you do. You will always see some “overnight” successes. You just have to think about the countless hours these people put in and made it happen.

You can learn to find out what made them successful. What can you do to achieve the same?

It helped me a lot to NOT compare myself to others by starting to compare myself to… myself from yesterday.

Yesterday I had 10 posts online on this site. Today will be 11. I am 10% better than the Julian from yesterday, according to this metric. This is the healthiest way of improving yourself.

I hope you learned something from this post and it made your life a little bit simpler – let me know! You can find more productivity-related posts on the right-hand side.

As always, I would be happy to hear some feedback on this post.


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