One phrase that I often have to remind myself is “don’t measure your progress against someone else’s ruler.” Just like everyone else, I can find myself in the trap of looking at people next to me (friends, acquaintances, strangers on the internet) and then feeling woefully behind. It’s something I’m constantly having to work on!! Maxie’s here for some tips on how to deal with that feeling:
3 Things to Do If You’re Feeling Super Behind
Guest post by Maxie McCoy
Feeling behind doesn’t feel great. It can cause a ton of anxiety and a good amount of stress – Because you’re not sure if you’re where you’re supposed to be. And you’re not sure if you’ll be able to catch up. It can feel like time is running out on you, and there’s simply nothing you can do to make up for it.
When you’re feeling behind, it typically takes two forms: the I’m so behind in life version (raise your hand if that’s you right now). And the I’m so behind on this ______ version (raise your hand if that’s also you). Consider my hand raised for both versions of feeling totally behind here and there. But what I want to address today is that feeling of believing that you’re behind in life.
It’s not fun, feeling behind. It makes you feel like you’re off track or a total failure or that you’re never going to get to where you think you want to be. That’s just your fear talking, though. Because the fact of the matter is that you’re so not behind. You can’t be behind when there’s simply no set timelines for how to do this whole life thing anyways.
But I get that that doesn’t make the feeling go away. You can know that logically but still feel like a behind failure in your heart. And if that’s where you’re at…I feel you… here are some things that might be able to help:
Shut down the places where you compare
You probably know exactly what triggers those I’m so behind thoughts. For some of you, it might be when you’re scrolling on Instagram. For others, it might be that one reality TV show where everyone’s beautiful, rich, and successful. For others, it might be certain friend groups or certain magazines. Have awareness around what gives you that I’m so behind feeling. And then do something about it. When you touch a hot stove you don’t keep your hand there…you remove it, quickly. Do the same with your mental health. If something – a guilty pleasure, an everyday habit, a type of person – is making you feel like you’re behind in your life then minimize your engagement with that.
Reflect on everything you have done
Most times we’re so concerned with being behind (and thus all we haven’t yet done) that we forget all that we have. However, when you can look at everything you’ve done to this point, I’m pretty sure you’ll rethink that whole I’m so behind thing. You’ll see that you’ve taken some really meaningful steps, done some really great work, and have a lot to be proud of. So take some time to reflect on that. Journal about your proudest moments. Write a list of big milestones. Go and reread old journals or things you’ve written. They’ll show you that you are indeed evolving at the perfect pace for you.
Make an exhaustive list
Lists are super helpful in getting you to stop ruminating over all these ways you feel behind and show you a path forward. If you make a fully exhaustive list of everything that’s been on your plate to take care of and stepping stones in whatever it is that you’re working towards (doctor’s appointments? Researching real estate? Sending in that email request? Updating your resume?), you can get your head wrapped around what you can actually do to make progress on your path. So much of feeling behind comes from not feeling like we’re doing enough or not knowing what to do. A list can help give you clarity that’s actionable and consolidated.
You’re not behind, even though it might feel like that right now. And the good news is that you get to choose what you go after – anything is possible. So, don’t worry so much about what you’ve yet to do and rather focus on the wonderful and magical moments happening right now. It’ll help.