Run Your Own Race

Life is competitive. Careers are competitive. And, often, it’s hard not to get caught up in where we fall in the grand pecking order.

Life is competitive. Careers are competitive. And, often, it’s hard not to get caught up in where we fall in the grand pecking order. I work in theater and there’s an old saying, “You’re only as good as your last hit.” I suspect you could find some line like this no matter what field you happen to work in. You’re only as good as your current job title, your hospital, your law firm, your school, etc.

Adding to this anxiety about where we rate, or how we stack up, is our online presence. Ironically, we do it with the notion that being so online may actually help our careers. We feel like we need to be on Insta, or Twitter, or read the industry newsletter first thing in the morning. But how often do these sources bring us useful information compared to how often do they just make us feel a little shittier?

It’s been a devastating year and a half. I suspect many of us are navigating mental and emotional health issues, perhaps for the first time. Right now, more than ever, we have to pay attention to what sources are making us feel good about ourselves, and what sources, even if it’s unintended, have a propensity to make us feel a litter sadder than we need to be.

Is your industry newsletter making you feel like you’re the only one not landing new clients? The business section making it seem like you’re the only one without the corner office? Your friends on Twitter and Insta always seem to be going from one success to the next?

I’m going to let you in on a secret. It’s okay to unsubscribe from that newsletter, remove those sites from your bookmarks and mute those folks on social. Will you miss some important industry news? Yes. Will your life go on? Yes. You can always re-subscribe in a few weeks. But if opening up these sources every morning is giving you anxiety, it’s okay to take a breather.

In another lifetime I ran a few marathons and, on race day, our coaches would remind us to run our own race. The runner whooshing past us may be clocking 6 minute miles, but that’s their race, not ours. Most of us were never going to be elite athletes, it was all about our PB - our personal best. Not another runner’s PB, our PB.

In this time of rebuilding and restoration it’s okay, maybe even necessary, to focus on our own PBs.

We think sometimes that we have to follow all the things and be in the know about everything. But I’m calling bullshit on that. For most of us there lies the road to anxiety and self doubt. It’s time to run your own race. Try to nail your next audition or client pitch meeting. Stop wasting precious emotional resources on everyone else’s race.