MBA Application Advice: Don't Compare Yourself to Others

I just wrote this to a struggling client. I hope it's helpful to others as well:

Maybe you're feeling a lot of time pressure now because this is a busy month. I know how that feeling can narrow your vision. Take a breath and stay calm. Try to go running or get some kind of exercise to clear your mind. 

One thing I really want you to understand is that everybody takes a different path in the application process and one of the worst things you can do is compare yourself to other people. You are not them and they are not you. It doesn't matter where they were one year ago compared to where you are now, and that is not how you should be judging your progress. You should be judging your progress by only one metric: your progress. Of course it would be great if you only had to study for one test at a time (or not at all), but that is not your situation and so you need to figure out the best way to manage your situation. In practical terms, it means you need to have excellent time management. I suggest trying to create a routine for yourself so that you know that every night from 10 pm to 1 am, for example, you will spend 2 hours on studying and 1 hour on essays. It's important to limit your time so that you can force yourself to get the most out of that time and feel some semblance of control over that time - it's a psychological trick essentially. It's also a nice trick because without it, you might get lost in one activity and lose progress in other areas.

I know that it's tempting to compare yourself to your competition. In the MBA application process, though, comparing yourself to others holds no value other than to cause crippling anxiety. A re-applicant I was speaking to earlier this year was panicking before he even started to re-apply because he felt he didn't have the same "killer" experiences as his peers. His anxiety was blocking him from recognizing and digging into his own unique experiences and strengths, which is the heart of this process. No one is perfect. If they were, they wouldn't need an MBA. Don't fall into the poisoned trap of comparing yourself to other people. Instead of feeling anxious about what you don't have, try to feel excited and motivated to explore the great things that you do have. Success will follow, one way or another.