Compete Against Yourself, Not Others


Imagine yourself a year from now, standing in a gallery filled with beautiful graphic design posters. How would seeing your own massive creative growth shift your perspective?

This scenario reveals an important truth for designers: the most fulfilling competition is with your past work, not others.

In graphic design's dynamic, visual world, comparing yourself to peers is tempting. Their incredible work floods social media, setting a high standard. However, relentless comparison rarely motivates. It stunts growth by damaging confidence and fostering unrealistic expectations. The reality is that obsessing over others' work builds frustration and toxicity more than fuel for improvement.

The key is shifting your mindset to compete against your former self, not others. Define success based on your journey so far. Celebrate developing skills by comparing old and new work. Find inspiration in visible progress, not demotivating flaws. Use past creations as constructive benchmarks to showcase evolved abilities.

Problems with Comparing Yourself to Other Designers 😥

Comparing yourself primarily to other designers brings several drawbacks:

  • It can be demotivating rather than inspirational. Seeing other designers execute at a high level you haven't reached makes it feel impossible to catch up, discouraging rather than motivating.
  • It leads to frustration and dissatisfaction. Holding your skills to the unrealistic standards of more experienced designers means constantly feeling inadequate and undervaluing your own progress.
  • It fosters antagonism and toxicity. Envy often breeds resentment rather than appreciation. This creates unhealthy competitiveness and toxicity rather than camaraderie.

The constant cascade of incredible work on social media and portfolios inevitably wears down self-confidence when used as your primary benchmark. If you want true growth, your metrics can't be based on others' standards. They need to come from your own journey.

The Benefits of Competing Against Your Past Self 🎉

When you shift your viewpoint inward and compete against previous versions of yourself rather than others, you unlock creative expansion and career benefits.

  • It creates a positive cycle of continuous improvement rather than a static ability assessment. Perpetually working to outdo your former skills embeds consistent growth into your mindset. There are always new motivational milestones, rather than final plateaus.
  • It removes conditioned creative limitations. The need to perform relative to others can restrict risk-taking. However, self-competition liberates you to tap into unused creative reserves without fear of external judgement.

It fosters a healthier relationship with constructive feedback. Criticism fuels progress when it is decoupled from self-worth and instead tied to internal progress markers. We hear it as fuel to keep challenging past paradigms rather than personal attacks.

Tips for Competing Against Your Former Self 💡

Once committed to self-competition, how do you put this mindshift into action? Here are some ways to challenge past creative limits:

  • Redesign an older, proud project with new knowledge and abilities, using expanded stylistic choices and compositional freedom. Don't copy direct elements, but recreate them, leveraging your growth.
  • Push past self-limiting beliefs by testing your boundaries. Show yourself how much creative flexibility you've cultivated since imposing past inhibitions.
  • Revisit old concepts that previously lacked execution. Breathe new life into them by finally giving them the runway they deserve. Rectify lagging past skills with modern abilities.

Use unfinished drafts and sketches to highlight your evolving creative process. Recognise the distance between your previous preparation and your now-fully realised end products.

The Motivational Power of Self-Competition ⚡️

By competing with yourself, you replace defeat with measurable growth as your benchmark. Your ever-ascending potential unfolding over time becomes the motivator, not platitudes dictating what you "should" be capable of.

You gain the freedom to fully express your creativity without fear of external judgment. Your audience becomes your former self.

The most powerful competitor you'll face is your past self's perceived limitations. I dare you to surprise yourself by showing how much you can now envision and execute. Start today by revisiting old work with fresh eyes. Marvel at your visible progress. Then fuel your next self-challenge.

Compete against you!

I originally shared these ideas in a blog post on my site a couple of months ago. It quickly became one of my most popular articles, so I wanted to adapt it into this newsletter for those who may have missed it. If you'd like to dive deeper into this concept, you can read the full post here.

Past Self Versus Present Progress 📈

The key is using your past work as a benchmark to showcase how much you've grown, rather than obsessing over flaws. Our only real competition is against prior versions of ourselves. Every creation represents that phase in our timeline.

By shifting to self-referential metrics, we focus on the joy of creating rather than the agony of comparing. Our work becomes a representation of time, not permanence. There are no failures, only more rungs on the ladder as we continually transcend our own potential.

I challenge you to compete against your past self starting today. Surprise yourself with what you can now envision and execute with fresh skills. Let your previous perceived limitations be the competitor to motivate ongoing achievement.

You got this! 💪

🔗 Quick Links

  • This Week's Blog Post—Dive Deeper: Uncover the Rich Tapestry of Creative Courage as We Age. Explore my Latest Blog Post for Insights on Embracing the Wisdom and Boldness That Come with Time. Read the full post here.
  • Weekly Instagram Poster—Get inspired with my weekly design poster. Make sure to follow me for your weekly dose of creativity!

Thanks for reading. Remember, your most formidable competitor is your own past self. Embrace this challenge with enthusiasm and watch your creativity soar.

Stay true, stay creative, and let's continue to evolve together. I look forward to sharing more insights and inspirations with you in my next newsletter.

Stay authentic, stay inspired, and remember—your path is yours to pave.