Sometimes, especially when hitting tough spots on projects, I find it hard to not compare my progress with others and feel demotivated because of this. What is the best way to address this?

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    Why demotivated? Are you performing poorly?
    – Kilisi
    Commented Nov 23, 2018 at 6:51
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    What about others on your tem (if you work on a team)? How are they performing? And how do they feel? What do you think causes you to hit tough spots? In my experience, it is often poor project planning, which can hardly be your fault - unless you are the Project Manager, Scrim master, team leader or such. What is your position within the team? How large is the team? What industry are you in? Please define "tough spots". The more detail you give us, the better we can help you.
    – Mawg
    Commented Nov 23, 2018 at 7:22
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    @mawg "tough spots" is from my edit. The original was quite a bit messy, feel free to edit to clear anything I may have missed.
    – Layman
    Commented Nov 23, 2018 at 9:17
  • Sorry, but I can't, because I don't know what you consider to be tough spots. What about the rest of my questions, could you edit your question to address those. If we don't have much info, we can't give much advice
    – Mawg
    Commented Nov 23, 2018 at 9:25
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    Unfortunately this is basically unanswerable at present - different things work for different people in different situations, and the question doesn't really include much in the way of specifics.
    – berry120
    Commented Nov 23, 2018 at 12:26

5 Answers 5


I realise it goes against a lot of human nature but you shouldn't compare yourself to other people and what they're doing.

If you can go home at the end of the day and say "I did my best" then that's all that matters.

Everyone gets stuck in the jobs, no matter what the job is.

With any kind of job dealing with customers, there's no way you can know all answers to all their queries all the time.

In a coding job, you cannot know the solution to every problem and write pages of code without bugs.

We're human, we're not perfect and we're not meant to be.


Your problem is mostly psychological.

You make one big mistake: You compare your progress, which you know exactly, with your guesses about other people's progress. You are not comparing the same thing. Most people are not going to tell you if they hit a tough spot. They make it look like everything is fine. So you hit a tough spot, and Joe looks like he's doing fine, and Jane looks like she's doing fine, but as far as we know, they are be just pretending.

So if you compare how you are doing, with how others pretend they are doing, of course you are not doing well. If you could compare yourself with how they actually are, you would look a lot better.

And one thing about learning: When are learning skills, you will have phases where you think you make progress, and you are happy about that, and suddenly any progress stops. What actually happens when progress suddenly stops is that your brain processes all the new things it has learned, and instead of getting new skills, it refuses and instead strengthens all the skills you have learned. So after that time with no apparent progress, suddenly you can do the things that you learned a lot better. So no apparent progress is usually nothing to worry about.

  • Very true, and applies to any social comparison situations, including on social media (Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebok, etc). That's why I ignore any and all selfies, and focus exclusively on nature, inanimate objects, and animals. Everyone should and does engage in self censorship when at work or in any social setting, and what you see on someone's profile, or in someone's CV, is not necessarily what you actually get. One other point I would add is that how people perform at work is only part of their overall success in life. Keep the bigger picture in mind, be patient, and think long-term.
    – A.S
    Commented Nov 24, 2018 at 15:09

We all hit tough spots occasionally. There's no need to feel ashamed.

If you feel demotivated because you are not progressing, ask the other guy, "I've hit a tough spot, can you help me?" A normal, helpful, professional person will make time and have a look at your problem and probably see something you missed.

This is not just good for your task, it makes you and the other guy feel better and improves the average morale in the office.


Assessing your performance with your counterparts is not a bad sign for your career and it not a demotivating factor at all. Your feeling that you have not performed well actually is a positive sign which can be transformed into the positive feeling of improvement. This situation arises when one wishes to perform at least equal to his counter parts. Slight demotivation is natural phenomenon but by critically monitoring and assessing your performance one can improve himself significantly by over coming weaknesses.


Are you doing your best? Are you getting help when something is beyond your ability? Is management happy with your performance? If you answered yes to all those things, then you're in good shape.

That's not to say how you feel is justified. I often joke with friends that I don't need my colleagues to criticize my work, nothing they say can be harder than what I tell myself. However, what makes someone a professional, is they learn from their mistakes and weaknesses. They grow.

You're not doing well compared to others. That's fine. Turn that negative into a positive. Take up a new skill useful to the job. Use it to fuel your growth as a professional.

Being behind now, only means we have more wisdom in deciding what's the best path for the future.

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