THE BLOG

5 Ways to Run Your Own Race

02/09/2015 01:31 pm ET | Updated Apr 10, 2015

A recent Huffington Post blog cited a new study that found that Facebook use could increase feelings of jealousy, which may lead to depression. With Facebook and other social media sites being the first place individuals go to "humble brag" (or just flat-out brag) about their accomplishments or experiences, this isn't hard to fathom. With the success of other people constantly popping up on your newsfeed, it is easy to get wrapped up in thinking that you do not measure up.

However, the more time you spend worrying about what others are doing, the less time you are focusing on yourself and your own success. Think of the story of the tortoise and the hare. The hare was speeding for success, but got caught up in his own arrogance and simply coasted. The tortoise plodded down his path and focused on one step at a time. In the end, it was the tortoise that beat the hare.

College campuses are full of opportunities to succeed and make your own mark in your own way. While there are an unlimited ways to succeed, here are five ways to keep your eye on the prize.

1. Take social media bragging with a grain of salt

Keep in mind that whenever you see an acquaintance posting their success story, you are only seeing the finished product. You may not realize the seeds they had to sow to get there, or conversely, you may not realize how little they had to do to get there. People generally use social media to display their highlights and happiness, and show how great their life is. But real life can't be accurately be portrayed in a single photo. No matter what Facebook implies, no one's life is that perfect.

That being said, once you accept the fact that Facebook posts are ultimately shallow, you can effectively stop being envious, and put your focus on you. And if you feel these feelings of jealously start to return, take time away from social media and spend it in a positive and productive way.

2. Decide what success means to you

Consider this: what types of accomplishments feel important to you and your success? Make a list of what you hope to achieve this semester. Whether it is making the Dean's List, winning a special award, and landing an exciting internship, focus on making it happen.

3. Become an Opportunist

College students are notoriously busy. Between classes, homework, part-time jobs, social events, and extracurriculars, even sleep is at a premium. But you'll have to do more than the minimum to stand out amongst your peers. Scour the Internet or campus bulletin board for opportunities. Once these opportunities come up, start saying yes whenever you can. If you are asked to speak at a campus ceremony, go for it. If a friend invites you to a networking event, join her. If you stumble across the chance to participate in exciting research, apply for it. If you keep your eyes open, you'll be surprised how often these sorts of opportunities present themselves.

One caveat to saying yes whenever possible: don't do it if it truly doesn't appeal to you. Don't say yes when you aren't available. And don't overextend yourself in an effort to say yes all the time. Commit to a few things you are passionate about and do them well. When you take on too much, you will not be able to have any sort of tangible impact.

4. Realize that you don't have to live up to anyone else's expectations

The only person's expectations you have to live up to is your own. You have a responsibility to find out what you love to do and what you are meant to do, and then go out and find a way to do it. Everyone will have an opinion about what they think you should do, but that often isn't helpful. In fact, others may either intentionally or unintentionally give you suggestions that will sabotage your own success. With a clear vision of where you want to end up, your instinct will be the most reliable.

5. Be OK with the journey

Success doesn't come overnight. In fact, most people we consider successful would testify to the fact that it is a never-ending process. Because once you stop reaching for success, you stop being successful. Accept the fact that you are on a journey; your own individual path. You won't have the same experience as any other person, and you'll do things in your own time. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. You'll cross paths with those you are meant to learn something from. Be aware: it may not be obvious.

My favorite saying comes from my mother. "Life moves quickly. Don't let the grass grow under your feet." It's wise advice. The longer you dwell on what others are doing, the faster life passes you, and the faster others will surpass you on your journey to success. Be proactive. Be persistent. Run your own race.