When you start your career on the bottom rung (as most of us do), "getting ahead" and "doing better" are synonymous. Competing with someone else may not be the best motivator after a certain point, though. Photo by Richard Elzey.
As author Seth Godin points out, it's very easy to get in the trap of feeling like you're not really successful unless you have more than someone else. Even if you have an otherwise happy life, if it's not better than someone else, you might feel like you're not really getting "ahead." This can skew your perspective of success:
After a company in Seattle famously raised its lowest wage tier to $70,000, two people (who got paid more than most of the other workers) quit, because they felt it wasn't fair that people who weren't as productive as they were were going to get a raise.
They quit a good job, a job they liked, because other people got a raise.
This is our culture of 'getting ahead' talking.
While there's nothing wrong with wanting to improve your life, it's important to occasionally take a step back and ask what really needs improving. Do you need a nicer car because someone you know has a nicer car? Or is it because your car constantly needs repairs? If you're only upgrading your life to compete with those around you, you might not really be making your life any better.
Getting ahead vs. doing well [Seth Godin]