It's been almost six months since I published The Motivation Hacker, my book on how to get yourself to want to do what you always wanted to want to do. Here's what surprised me.
Sales (update: First Year Book sales)
I use a site called PredictionBook to compare my private guesses to reality for things like this. It helps me be less overconfident. I took a brutal calibration beating on my predictions for how many copies I'd sell in the first six months:
Here's how many I actually sold:
If you tell someone who is into personal improvement that you compare yourself with others, his kneejerk reaction will be to tell you not to. This advice comes with no contemplation, and is offered because it sounds so noble that no one argues with it-- except for me. I think that it's valuable to compare yourself with others, if it's done habitually and strategically.
On a daily basis I internally compare myself to people less fortunate than myself as a way of remembering how incredibly lucky I am. I'd like to think that I'm responsible for the good in my life, but at the same time I know that if I was born in Liberia when it was caught in civil war, my life would have been far worse. While some comparisons may serve to pat myself on the back, mostly I gain appreciation for the opportunities that have been presented to me, and am reminded how important it is to seize them.
This is the only way in which I compare myself to those I don't envy. I don't rest on my laurels because I feel as though I've exceeded some people's accomplishments in some areas. I filter out those comparisons, and only derive gratitude.