Should you compare yourself to others?
My wife compares me to Ryan Reynolds sometimes.
She says, “you’re nothing like Ryan Reynolds.” 😂
There will always be someone with more success and money than you.
Maybe it’s better to compare yourself with who you were in the past, than with who someone else is today.
Comparison is the thief of joy after all.
But I don’t like the saying “never compare yourself with others.” I think there’s a time & place for comparison.
Personal finance is not just personal, it’s also relative
If your income grows by 5%, but everyone else grows their income by 20% then you’re getting left behind.
Yes, you’re doing better relative to your past self. But that’s not what really matters.
Since we live in a society with others, we have to make an effort to keep up with societal norms.
In the past perhaps it was the norm to pay $1,000/month to rent a 1 bedroom apartment.
But the norm today is to pay $2,000/month. The cost doubled.
Isn’t there some utility to track how the norm changes over time, since shelter is important?
I think in some sense it does help to know how rich other people are getting. The price of labour in a community impacts the cost of living for everyone. Just look at the Bay Area, Seattle, or any other city that has become a tech hub over time.
If you don’t keep up with society’s changes your standard of living could suffer over time.
Comparisons can have other benefits as well.
If you’re doing similar work as others, but getting paid less, it’s probably in your best interest to know you are being underpaid so you can look for ways to improve your situation.
Comparing your situation against others allows you to make more informed decisions.
It’s hard to learn new skills, or improve yourself if you don’t consider how others are doing things differently.
But to reveal those differences & make improvements you necessarily have to compare what you’re doing to what others are doing.
You can’t run a business successfully without doing market research and looking at your competitors once in awhile. 🙂
At some level don’t we all depend on signals from other people to guide us forward, and to help us figure out which direction to go?
Can you compete without comparing yourself to others?
You can certainly compete only against yourself. But sometimes that’s not enough.
If your net worth grows 100%, how do you know if that’s good or bad if you don’t compare with others?
It’s difficult to maintain your purchasing power if you don’t have any external standard to measure against.
Is comparison a necessary evil you have to do in order to live a decent life within mainstream society?
Maybe one solution is to compare with others when you want to improve your situation.
But do not compare when you want to relax and not stress.
Random Useless Fact:
This is what a fpoon looks like.