(VIDEO) Jordan Peterson: Rule #4 Compare Yourself to Yesterday


  1. Swap comparison for inspiration.

  2. Know the dimensions in life you and to focus on.

  3. Dance with change. Work on adaptability and resilience. 

Better abs, hotter dates, more money, more Instagram followers. It’s become a natural unhealthy habit to compare ourselves with other people.  

Jordan Peterson uses Rule #4 to remind us that logically, we just can’t do this. Humans, are multi-dimensional. When we compare, we focus on one dimension: beauty, status, money. But in reality, no one is like you and no one is like them. We’re all trying to play to our strengths while fighting our own demons.

So what if your boss earns 4 times more than you, what if he’s got a cheating wife? Who’s to say he’s got a better life? Earlier this month, we lost Avicci. Any other 28 year old would have envied his lifestyle of private jets, parties and millions of dollars. But no-one would have traded life is they knew he was on the path to suicide. No-one would wish such a tragedy even on their worst enemies.

So the only person you can truly compare yourself to is you. You, yesterday. Because you are the only person you know inside out. Biologically, culturally and psychologically, you’re the best standard of comparison.

This chapter was a bloody wake up call. I feel like every chapter so far has been a kick up the but to get my shit together. Look how many bloody notes I took! Ok let's talk key learnings from Papa J:

1.    Comparison vs Improvement

Comparing yourself is like drinking self-brewed poison. It’s narrow minded and unfair.

       “Be cautious when you’re comparing yourself to others…. You have your own particular specific problems –financial, intimate, psychological and otherwise. Your career or job works for you in a personal manner… it does so in a unique interplay with the other specifics of your life” –pg 92.

I love this quote. Not everyone will understand your personal career or relationship choices. We make choices based on insider knowledge of our internal hopes, dreams and fears… all of which are so different to the person next to us.

We also assume that because someone is exceptionally performing well in one area, they’ve got their whole life sorted. It makes us feel like shit because we might feel like we don’t. I came across this comment on REDDIT:

 “I've seen senior managers look like another tired and sloppily dressed person crowding to get samples at costco, and I've seen lower ranking/less competent coworkers with their beautiful and perfect looking families who all seem to adore him or her. Just because someone is "winning" at one game doesn't mean they are "winning" at it all.”

-Simple Pants 

Rather than comparing ourselves, we should look at people as an ‘inspiration’ to improve. Identify their habits, uniqueness and look for ways to customise their practices into our own behaviour. For eg. I look up Joe Rogan and Tim Ferriss. I love their ability to dissect and translate other people’s expertise into ‘normal people talk’. They’ve inspired me to do this vlog series.

So be good to yourself, stop comparing achievements, and stop drinking your own poison!


2.    Know Your Dimensions

Can we have it all? The career, family, house etc.

To be exceptionally good at one thing, we have to sacrifice other dimensions. Because to be the best salesperson, the most booked model or actor, or the scientist to cure a degenerative disease, you need to be better than other high performers.

Look at sports stars, do you think Roger Federer slept around, partied, smoked a bong or tried cocaine his 20s? No. To be unidimensional, to be laser focused on one thing, requires ruthless determination. There is absolutely nothing wrong with pursuing excellence, but if you want a ‘healthy/balanced’ life. You need to spread yourself out more.

You’re probably thinking, ‘Screw you Lizzie, I’m going to be the best at everything.’ But Papa JP says:

    “Winning at everything might only mean that you’re not doing anything new and difficult. You might be winning, but you’re not growing and growing might be the most important form of winning. –pg 88

At some point in our lives, we’ll experience polarising highs and lows. Maybe you've just been made redundant but having the best damn holiday and rediscovering yourself in South America. Jordan Peterson reminds us that it’s ok not to dominate every dimension in your life at the same time.

There’s a thing called life. It happens, it changes, it won’t tell you what’s bloody next. The best you can do is focus on what dimensions of your life are fulfilling and important. We’ve all got our own strengths, weaknesses and circumstances, play your own game. Define what it means to ‘have it all’ in your own life.

3.    Enjoy the Ride

What does your future-self look like? More successful, fitter, in a happy marriage etc. Papa JP reminds us that whatever you’re aiming for, don’t forget to enjoy the journey. Because sometimes we’re too consumed with what we’re chasing, we often forget what we have.

“Perhaps happiness is always to be found in the journey uphill, not in the fleeting sense of satisfaction awaiting at the next peak” pg 94.

You hear this with many successful business owners and entrepreneurs. Steve Jobs would reminisce about the origins of Apple from his parent's garage or fashion designers would remember what it was like eating cans of tune while designing patterns on their bedroom floor, there’s something romantic about the grind or path we take when we’re fully focused on achieving something.

But more than enjoying the moment,’ it’s also having the courage to take charge. My old boss would say ‘the only constant is in life, in business, is change.’

'The world is still there, with its structures and limits. As you move along with it, it cooperates or objects. But you can dance with it, if you aim to dance – and maybe you can even lead, if you have enough skill and grace... we enter a more elevated and more complete reality.’
-pg 101.

 I think this quote is about resilience with style and grace. Take change as prompts to evolve. Got fired, good you were thinking about a different career anyways. She never texted you back? At least now you know more restaurants and bars to go to with other friends.

So enjoy the ride, play with opportunities and dance with change.

Ok so three main points were:

1.    Don’t compare. View them as inspiration.

2.    Know the dimensions which define what ‘it means to have it all’ for your life.

3.    Dance with change and take the lead.

That’s all folks, see you next week for Rule 5!

Liz PalComment