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Up and Down

I recently came across a framework for comparison that I've fallen in love with.

In general, I am not a fan of comparison. At all.

What I love about this framework is two things: 1. How simple it is, and 2. How realistic it is.

But I'm getting a bit ahead of the story.

Let's start at the beginning, with the two main elements of this framework.

The Ideal

The ideal is the state that to you, feels like where you should be.

This state could be one you've just dreamed up, or it could be your default for comparison.

For instance, if you're comparing yourself to a peer who works in a different organization than you do, you might look at their "position" on the "ladder" and say ... I should be there too.

You may even do this with someone that you don't know well at all. Perhaps you just happen to have something in common with that person, for instance you're the same age.

Taylor Swift is one year younger than I am.

I don't have an Eras tour planned.

The Baseline

The baseline is the state that you were in before now.

The obvious follow-up here is, what is before?

Well, that's up to you.

A year ago. Six months ago. Yesterday. This morning.

The Framework

I read about this framework in a brilliant (short) book called Shape Up.

It's a book that explains a unique method for developing products, so with that context, here's a direct quote that explains the framework for comparison:

It helps to shift the point of comparison. Instead of comparing up against the ideal, compare down to baseline—the current reality for customers. 

I love this language.

Don't compare up, compare down.

It's so easy for us to compare up, isn't it?

To compare to what we think we should be?

It's almost equally easy to forget where we were.

A Small Trick

Most email platforms now have the capability to schedule the sending of emails.

Try this: Write yourself an email about something you're working on right now. It could be anything, really.

Now schedule it to send to you (yes, to you from you) in either three months, six months, or one year from now. You choose.

That's it. Carry on with your day.

I started this little trick after hearing it on a podcast and now I repeat it every three months, every year, and every birthday.

It is a fantastic way of reminding yourself of your baseline.

Compare down, not up.

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