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How do I not compare myself to others in my career?

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Anonymous User at Taro Communitya year ago

I am usually very competitive and while I love my friends, I have this internal push to always do better than people around me. I got promoted to SWE II within a year in 2021 and I was so proud of that. However, this year my manager changed and without really knowing or understanding me, he gave me the feedback of "didn't meet expectations" in our annual performance review in Feb. I had full plans to change my company soon since I didn't feel supported by my manager. However, my father fell incredibly ill in May (still is) which canceled all my plans as I moved back home to support my family.

I have a feeling my friend who is on a different team than I am (but reports to the same manager) might get promoted to senior. She deserves it. She got different opportunities than I did but I can't help but feel a pang of jealousy knowing that all I want this coming Feb is "meets expectation" rating while my friend might get promoted. Another friend of mine switched to a company that seems incredible but I somehow feel "behind" in my career despite knowing that I will meet the career goals I have next year. I am already a million times a better software dev than I was beginning of the year. I have close relationships with my colleagues but how do I focus on my own lane and not compare myself to others?

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    Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero, PayPal
    a year ago

    Sorry to hear about your dad and the bad performance review result. Really hoping for your dad to get better!

    My main piece of advice is to create clear career goals that are tied solely to yourself. I talk about this more in the following discussions:

    For me, my career goal was to help as many people as possible. It's a more positive, idealistic goal and it's also easy to measure. I accomplished this goal through:

    • Mentoring others
    • Building free, ad-free Android apps that were used by more and more people
    • Expanding my scope as a tech lead, creating projects that advanced and helped the team.

    Try to find a goal like that: Having a clear, bright North Star makes it easy for all the right actions to flow, and it outshines that negative energy from comparing yourself to others.

    Lastly (and this is much easier said than done of course), I recommend converting that comparison energy into motivation. Instead of feeling bad that you're "falling behind", feel inspired knowing that you can achieve the same heights as them. If you're still feeling competitive, turn this into the drive to become even better than they are with that "friendly anime rival" energy, haha.