The funny thing about connecting online is that we think everyone else has it figured out.

And so that idea dampens our own enthusiasm for what we are doing. Kind of bums us out. Makes us scared to move forward. Messes with our heads.

But guess what: It’s an illusion. Nobody’s life is as perfect as you imagine it to be. Once you realize that, it frees you up to work through your muddled, confused, incomplete present to get to a better future. Your brilliant writing life.

Whether you are struggling to start your writing career or you’re deep in the midst of it, know that your own writing career can be amazing, successful, and triumphant. But only when you cut through the clutter, stop dreaming about everyone else’s career, and start focusing on your own.

That’s right. Forget about modeling your career exactly after someone else. Your blog can never be like your favorite blogger’s blog. Your novel can never be like your favorite author’s book. Your poetry can never be like your favorite poet’s poem.

But your work can be the best example of what you bring.

You can’t be exactly like someone else because you’re not. That blogger, author, speaker, or entrepreneur that you’ve been lusting after has had experiences you’ll never have. Some of those are beautiful experiences that have provided her with tremendous advantage. Some, though, are dark-of-night horror stories she’s had to work through to get to where she is now. Sure, you’re happy to trade places and live her great experiences, but you’d probably drag your feet to get in line to live the bad ones. That’s OK. Those are her experiences, and not yours. And that’s why you can’t compare your life, career, or work to hers.

Because it’s not.

The false story you are telling yourself is keeping you down

Living in the public square that is Facebook and social media has created a weird dynamic. It allows us to connect to friends, family, colleagues, and others, which is positive. But it also can foster negative emotions such as envy, jealousy, and insecurity. That is because we see their smiling photos, happy status updates, etc., and conclude that their lives are way better than our own. We are kind of happy for them but we are also a little bit … not. We wonder why they get to have all the fun and we are stuck in our ho-hum daily lives where we are possibly bored, if not downright struggling.

But what we don’t realize is that those photos are just that, snapshots of moments. They don’t tell the whole story. Just as the airbrushed, Photoshopped models and actors we see on magazine covers don’t tell the whole story.

How does this relate to our writing careers? The same thing applies. We see the Facebook pages, social media profiles, and blogs of writers and entrepreneurs we admire and we wonder why they get to have the great careers and we … don’t. We feel bad.

These bad feelings inhibit your progress. Sometimes, they even make you give up. You put your writing career on hold. You never seem to finish any project. You get stressed just thinking about it.

Get your head together

That’s all got to stop, if you want to reclaim the enthusiasm you once had for this writing life. So try these three tips for reclaiming your love for your writing career:

1. Encourage yourself. You need to seek out encouraging messages that can move you forward. Fill your head with messages that let you know you can have this writing life you dream of, messages that address your struggles but give you hope for moving beyond them.

2. Recommit to a goal. You no doubt have some goals for your writing career, right? Dust them off and get back to them. And if you don’t have any, it’s time to set some now. If we have nothing to shoot for, that means we have nothing to look forward to. So if your writing career is littered with abandoned goals or undefined ones, then that may be why you’re in a funk now. Commit to accomplishing one small goal in the next three days. Also commit to a goal that could take three months to do.

3. Start something new. Nothing like something new to get us excited! That’s the case with new romance (we get googly-eyed), a new car (we’re ready to go anywhere!), or a new hair cut (we walk just a bit taller). So try it for your writing life. Tackle a new project that has meaning. Maybe it’s a new blog. Maybe it’s the book idea you’ve been toying with. Maybe it’s a new marketing strategy for your business.

These are three ways to help you get in the right mind space to create your own writing life and your success. And get this: As you create the right mind space, you become better equipped to put in place practical steps that can help you accomplish what you crave. That is why, when you are running a business, it’s important to address both the mind and the actual doing. Get your mind right and make sure you educate yourself about the technical details of how to do a thing.

You get to decide how you show up

These ideas can help you realize you don’t have to compare your career to anyone else’s. After all, much of what you see is an illusion. Your Facebook friends aren’t likely to show you the boring, lonely, and painful parts of their days. They’ll just show you the smiling pictures. But they certainly have times when they are not smiling. So do your favorite writers, bloggers, and entrepreneurs. Their websites, blogs, etc., only show you the pretty pictures, not the ugly ones.

They still go through things — serious health issues, shaky relationships, arguments.

In fact, I’ll tell you about an example from my own life.

The first year or so of marriage for my husband and me wasn’t great. In fact, it was pretty tough at times. After all, we were two independent 30-somethings coming together to form a life together. Lots of friction, as we tried to meld ideas, or in some cases, each push our ideas on the other. That left plenty of room for conflict. One morning, we got into an argument on the way to a speaking engagement. Not pretty. I was in no mood to even talk with him after that, and stormed out of the car and stomped up to the door of the reception hall for the event where I would be the keynote speaker. But an observer couldn’t tell. As soon as I stepped into that building, I smiled and went to work, talking to several guests before the event started. And when I took the stage to speak, I gave a rousing performance. I wish I had recorded it, it was just that good! And that’s not me saying it. It’s my husband saying it. It’s audience members saying it. It was one of the best performances I’ve ever given.

And that’s how it is with your favorite speakers, authors, entrepreneurs, etc. They go through things just like you. But when it comes time to deliver, they put aside their personal angst and get the job done. In my case, I was able to put that argument in its place and move forward. And not just the day of the speaking engagement, but in life. My husband and I worked through our early-marriage challenges, and I’m so glad we did. We don’t fight like that anymore, and are building a great life together. Sometimes, it’s not about never facing challenges. It’s about facing them and becoming better because of the experience.

You can work through whatever you are going through and regain your confidence and do something big in your writing life. Your choice: You can give up because you think you’ll never measure up to what someone else is doing, or you can keep pushing forward anyway and produce your best. Judge your career based on your efforts, your goals, your shortcomings, and yes, your successes.

So don’t let the picture someone else has painted be the only vision you see, especially when you don’t know what all went into painting that picture. Focus on the airbrushed, perfect, glossy picture someone else has carefully created and you can miss the imperfect beauty you paint in your own life. Sure, use others’ success as inspiration, if you need. But don’t use it to beat up on yourself. Instead, take the lessons from those people and the examples that you see and adapt them to your own circumstances. Look to others’ experiences to inspire, motivate, and inform you, not to bum you out.

Show yourself some love and watch your writing life get better.