Have you ever fallen into “compare and despair?”

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We have all been there.

While writing a sales page, we wonder if there are any good examples out there of a similar type of product or service. So we jump on the Internet, hit Google, and find:

Someone who is not only delivering the exact same product or service that you are creating, but doing it while being smarter, cuter, and generally more awesome than you.

Welcome to what Martha Beck terms “compare and despair.”

Here is what to do about it.

And here is the aforementioned “Snap out of it!” clip from Moonstruck.

What do you do when you get hit by an attack of compare and despair? Please share in the comments! My favorites:

  • Go for a walk to clear my head
  • Hug my kids
  • Hug my dogs
  • Read nice things clients have said about my work in the past
  • Watch an underdog movie like Rocky
  • Listen to John Legend
  • Call my Dad (that always works)
  • Call my best friend Desiree (that always works too)
  • Check in with my clients and encourage them (boy, does that work!)
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48 Responses to “Have you ever fallen into “compare and despair?””

  1. […] of running with, coaching, and presenting with Big Names is that it’s easy to get caught in compare and despair land. By many of the metrics people use to determine whether people are superstars are not, I’m […]

  2. Annmarie says:

    Love this! Thank you!

  3. I have come back to the page time and again, because I love your advice, I love the video clip of Cher… it stays with me long after words become fuzzy in my brain…. and I appreciate the honest and straightforward video you made to prod readers away from ‘Compare and Despair’. Thanks so much for putting your wisdom out there. You are helping readers one person at a time…! (In fact, the phrase ‘Compare and Despair’ has become part of my own mission and a way to describe what’s happening, on my own blog, see http://www.mojo40.com/about-us/).

  4. This is great post and video! And it reminds me too how great Moonstruck is! So many great scenes! I think that compare & despair is one of the biggest challenges for all of us that are trying to create our own lives. One thing I do that really helps me keep things together in general is writing every morning. I don’t know if you’ve read the book “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron, but one of the cornerstones of the book is writing what she calls “morning pages” (three pages, longhand) as a way of dumping out your mind every morning so you can get past the junk. I read the book about 5 years ago, and I’ve been writing morning pages ever since. They save me almost every day. The book is obviously for artists, but I think this practice could change anyone’s life because it gives you this chance to see your thinking and come up with new ideas and thoughts and ways of getting out of the madness. Also, of course, just looking at my dog always works—he is just as silly and in the moment as we could all every hope to be and he doesn’t care if I am a complete idiotic “failure” or a brilliant success. He just wants pets and kibbles.

  5. Denise says:

    Remember why I do what I do (because I love what I do). I also see what I can learn from others, because one thing’s certain I don’t know half of everything about anything.

    Encouraging article. Enjoyed it!

  6. Gordon says:

    1. I examine the competitor’s material very closely, taking careful notes about everything they say about their product/service/market/whatever.

    2. I leave my office/computer, go to a coffee shop, and re-read specific chapters of “Marketing Warfare” by Reis & Trout.

    3. I write down 10 ways that my product is better than theirs.

    4. I write down 5 new ways to approach the customer that will make my product stand out and shine (and re-position the competitor as “not quite up to the job”).

    5. I adjust my product introduction plans accordingly.

    And if I’m really stuck…..I call a marketing friend of mine and we throw ideas back and forth until I’m all hyped up again.

  7. I used to fall into the trap of compare and despair quite frequently. But each one of us are unique. Once I began to see my strengths, I began to explore how to capitalize more on these and create my own approach. At times others’ methods may fill the bill, but I began to see that mine worked effectively, too – just differently. That built all the confidence I needed.

  8. Rachel Madan says:

    I just fell into compare and despair right now!! I’m going to watch this video a few times and follow some of your suggestions to snap myself out of it! Thanks so much for sharing, Pam.

  9. Shelley West says:

    I was totally having a “compare & despair” day sometime last week. Are you a mind reader? πŸ™‚ I usually combat it by calling my Dad, listening to my feel good playlist helps a lot, taking a walk and re-reading my “what makes me awesome” list works too!

  10. […] yourself and believing in yourself – and I’m fully guilty of it as well!Β  Take a peek here.Β  Whatever you’re involved in, whatever great things you desire to do in life – that […]

  11. Arun San says:

    I got to this page from another blog. I am so glad I found it. I have got into compare and despair a couple of times. I am still working on avoiding it. Thanks for sharing those videos.

  12. Denise Green says:

    You’ve tapped into a big painful universal truth with this one. And it’s such a losing game (comparison). One of my favorite clips is from The Incredibles, when Elastigirl starts sobbing and whining that she’s losing her husband. And tiny Edna (the designer) climbs on the table, rolls up her designs, and smacks her in the head (hard) and says something to the effect of “Get hold of yourself. Remember who you are. You are Elastigirl!”

  13. Ned Rios says:

    Hi Pam

    Thank you for your incredible way of reaching people. You are so on target with this topic.
    What a nice reminder to snap out of it. I have a tendency to stay in a bubble sometimes and then when I decide to snap out of it -I switch gears and do the things that I am good at! Because that is so easy to forget sometimes…

    btw-you look awesome. I wonder if Susan is forcing green smoothies on you -your skin looks great..

    Thanks for always writing “nothing but the truth.”

  14. Marilyn says:

    Hey Sister! Great way to start my day, seeing your happy face!

    Thanks for the great advice. As a captain friend of mine says, “There’s always a bigger boat.”

    Big hugs,


  15. Love this video, Pam! There are so many great points you made in here that I could write a book of responses to.

    But the one I felt most keenly as I was watching it was where you said you shouldn’t assume that the market is over-saturated. That is so true.

    We opened Urban Martial Arts, our karate school, nearly 4 years ago. But to this day we still have people walking in saying “Woah, when did you guys open? I live down the street and never knew you were here!”

    And trust me – that’s not a testament to our bad marketing. LOL! We flyer and market and promote like crazy, but it just goes to show that even with all that, there are *still* people who haven’t heard of us and who would be totally open and excited to become students of ours. So the opportunity for growth is still huge.

    I also appreciate what you said about realizing that what you see is not what your customer sees. Just because you’re attuned to all the coaching courses and teleseminars that are being launched by colleagues in your field, doesn’t mean your customer is.

    It’s like that phenomenon when you decide you want to buy a VW Jetta, and suddenly you start noticing Jettas everywhere you go. Did everyone go run out and buy a Jetta? No, your radar is just tuned in to notice them. But your customer’s radar probably isn’t.

  16. Mel says:

    Oh only just found your blog due to Susannah tweeting this link and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

  17. fas says:

    Well it is sometimes a mood thing, you become fine after time.

  18. marie-jeanne juilland says:

    An awesome post! Just what I needed even though I was having a “running my own race” kind of day.

    Tomorrow though could a totally different ballgame. I’ll need to stay focused on my unique strengths and finding a unique niche.

    And if I may saw so, you’re great at doing videos!

  19. Thanks for posting this! I have just added a blog to my site and I’ve found myself ‘researching’ (comparing) other coaches that have had blogs for over 5 years. It is not even a fair comparison! And it’s been a creativity buzz kill. I’m glad I am not the only one that has made that mistake.

  20. Daryl says:

    As always, another great post! Here are a couple of thoughts, culled after many years in business.

    When somebody is already successful at something I am considering, I get excited — regardless of how good they are. It means there is already a proven market! I just need to figure out how to get my piece of it.

    On the contrary, if nobody is doing it, I worry. Maybe there is no viable market. As small businesses, it is hard to develop or originate markets. Better to “find a need and fill it” or “find a niche and serve it.”

    Re Yoda — just watched Star Wars for the nth time with the grandkids. May the force be with you…

  21. Melani Marx says:

    Great topic Pam and some really good advice. I have been doing this dance a little this this past week as I put together a new offer.

    So here is what I do when it happens.

    I stop everything. Literally. Stop.

    I close my eyes, breath into my heart. Let whatever is happening with my emotions have all the space it needs…give it room.

    I then drop my attention to my dantien, a few inches below my navel. I let myself fall in there and spend a moment just connecting to myself.

    Then I ask myself if what I am doing is in alignment with my soul’s deepest purpose?
    Is it what I am needing to do as my own contribution, right now?
    Is it MY work to do?

    My whole body responds to this by opening up. My mind quiets. I have effectively reconnected to my own vision and purpose for my life and my work.

    This only takes a minute or two. And is way more productive than struggling against the tide.

    I then check in with my body to see if I am hungry, need to move, have a glass of water, take a break, etc. I take care of it and then I am off playing again. Relishing in the satisfaction of being me…and only me. And letting everyone else be themselves.

    PS I also believe that each of us has a sacred soul contract to bring our gifts into the world and there are folks that are simply waiting to receive them from us…not anyone else. Our peeps are in fact our peeps.

  22. Another solution: Get a little older and wiser!
    A true advantage of aging is that I no longer feel compelled to compare my efforts and successes/failures to others. I’m getting increasingly comfortable in my own skin – maybe that’s why our skin gets all saggy – so that we can fit into it when we are ready!!!

  23. Tamara says:

    YAY, i needed this video! As im beginning launching my business and i see everyone else CRUSHING it all around me, it is SOOO easy to be intimidated. But i do know that *I* am uniquely needed with my unique talents and my unique skills and i just have to remember that.

  24. Candace says:

    Great video! It is so easy to get myself bogged down and bewildered which makes the “compare and despair” siblings snuggle right in! Thank you for the video! Now I can replay this to get refocused. Loved the “eyes on the own paper” reference as well:)

  25. YODA!!!! As if ‘compare and despair’ wasn’t enough to make me grin – YODA!!

    • Pamela says:

      I can’t live without my mentor! πŸ™‚

      It is so funny – Josh is now going through a total Star Wars phase, and so every time he sees a Yoda product, he insists that I buy it for myself. That is how this fuzzy Yoda made it into my office. And I have to say that he makes me feel pretty dang great. πŸ™‚

      Way to go with your class and your amazing statistics btw — holy cow, way to rock it out! Can I say “I told you so” now? πŸ˜‰

  26. Just a moment of perception…I love that thought. And focusing instead on the people I want to serve – what a great tip! It takes the spotlight off of me and instead puts it back where it belongs, on them. Thanks, Pam.

    • Pamela says:

      I get huge relief from thinking about the impact I want to make, and the needs of my clients, rather than my own moment of inadequacy πŸ™‚

  27. I’ve spent the better part of the year weaning myself off of compare and despair mentality. It takes a lot of practice to let go of judgment (good and bad) and just allow stuff to be as it is.

    “It’s neither good, nor bad. It just is. My perception determines my reality.” has become a mantra for me for a lot of stuff.

    And yeah, I’m still working on it. πŸ™‚

    • Pamela says:

      So true Lisa! Good for you for working on this — as the saying goes, no one can be yourself like you can πŸ˜‰

  28. I can certainly relate to those initial feelings. But ultimately, I believe there is plenty for everyone, and if you are focused on being authentic in business, then the people that you resonate with will get you and beat a path to your door. Likewise for your ‘competitor’. I realize some of my so-called competitors don’t see things this way, but I staunchly believe that my clients DO see it this way, which is all that matters to me, and why I don’t hurt for business. Love Martha Beck btw.

  29. You mean I’m not the only one who goes through this?? πŸ™‚

    I love what you said about the market being perceived to be saturated. I was just having this conversation yesterday with someone about my target market because they are convinced it is saturated, when I know in fact it is not.

    • Pamela says:

      Isn’t it true Cheryl? We forget that we hang out in these (relatively) tiny circles of people just like us, when in the meantime there are so many people who are desperate for our help and just can’t find us.

  30. Sue T. says:

    Oh my gosh Pam, I feel like you made this video just for me! I went through a huge bout of compare and despair (haha, now I know what to call it) last week. I talked it out with a friend & client and she helped me get back on track. I also try to remember Charlie Gilkey’s words about the importance of “running your own race.”

    • Pamela says:

      Don’t we all Sue! I went thorough a bout this morning (why do you think I made the video?!?). It is such a normal part of growing a business, and it will really slow you up if you don’t watch it.

      Cheering you on as you run your own race πŸ™‚

  31. Angela says:

    Thank you! Really enjoyed the video and have bookmarked for future reference. I also love that you have Yoda sat in a chair behind you πŸ™‚


  32. Cynthia says:

    Thank you for the solution. It seemed as though you were talking directly to me, I needed to hear that I’m not the only one who has faced this problem.



  33. Eleanor says:

    Thanks so much for this Pam! I have a little mantra that I say to myself when I get into compare and despair:

    “Keep your eyes on your own paper”

    Like when taking a test in school, you’ll get better results if you focus your attention on what you are doing rather than looking around frantically to see what everyone else is doing.

    My husband also built me a spreadsheet where we plug in all of my sales month by month. My revenue has pretty much doubled this year and in one of the fancy graphs he made, the bars just keep shooting up higher than the ones from the previous months and years. In fact he made the spreadsheet for me when I was having one of my ‘Oh this all hopeless!’ meltdowns. I think it was an act of self preservation on his part πŸ™‚

    It has proven to be a very good tool for tracking my progress and always calms me down and makes me feel better when I look it.

    • Pamela says:

      I love that tip from your husband!

      Looks like you married well πŸ˜‰

      • Pamela, thanks for the great reminder–I really needed it–I waste WAY too much time and energy engaging in C&D.

        AND wanted to do a shout out to Eleanor–we used your wedding invites for our wedding this past june (the green grass with yellow butterflies) and not only did we LOVE them but we received so many positive compliments. (just in case you were C&D’ing today!)

        Thanks to both of you!!

  34. ohh, thank you so much for this, Pam! And for reminding me how much I love Moonstruck (Johnny has his hand!). When I was writing my book earlier this year i’d find myself slinking onto the internet for a bit of distraction only to then start comparing and despairing and wanting to scrap the manuscript altogether. C&D is such a waste of our energy and yet so easy to do — i’m loving your reframe. It’s applicable to life too — great biz wisdom always is πŸ™‚

    • Pamela says:

      “I lost my hand! I lost my bride!”

      My very favorite scene. πŸ™‚ Glad you relate!

  35. Needed this today. Thank you, Pam!

    • Pamela says:

      Well then I am so glad I made the video! Happens to everyone, you are not alone Alexandra! And I for one think you are pretty dang awesome.