How many times has this happened to you: you’re sitting on the train on your way to work, mindlessly scrolling through Instagram. You speed past the engagements, the baby photos, and yet another brunch photo. Then it stops you in your tracks. A post with “some personal news.” An old friend from college has an announcement to make: she’s taken a new job in the city with a big-name agency and an impressive title. Her montage of photos includes a glimpse of her shiny new apartment and flowers from her adorable fiancé.
You want to be happy for her, but the pangs of envy are running deep. Why not you?
When we’re feeling jealous, there are two roads we can take: we can use it to feel bad about ourselves and validate complacency, or we can use it to kick ourselves into high drive and put a plan in place. We can channel our jealousy into productivity. Jealousy can be an amazing tool that gives you a glimpse into what exactly you want in life — and gives you the motivation to chase after it.
First, Take a Moment to Practice Gratitude for What You Do Have.
Pause for a second. For every person who you are jealous of, there’s probably someone out there looking at you and wondering how you’ve got it all together. Maybe you have a degree that you worked your ass off for. Perhaps you are the friend who always knows just how to celebrate those close to her. Or maybe you’re the one who everyone looks to for decor advice.
For anything you don’t have, there’s something you’ve got going on that’s awesome and worth being grateful for!
Figure Out Where Exactly Your Jealousy is Rooted.
Once you’ve taken stock of what you do have, take a step back and figure out where exactly your jealousy is coming from. Are you envious of a career? Relationships? Travel? Just an overall feeling of happiness?
If you can nail down why you’re feeling jealous, you have a tangible way to figure out what it is you’re striving for in your own life.
The only way to change your current situation is to know what you want to change.
Look at the Path That This Person Took to Reach Their Goals.
So, this acquaintance (or maybe just the random blogger on Instagram!) that you’re feeling jealous of? Use them as inspiration to get moving. Turn your jealousy into admiration, and remember: if she can do it, so can you.
OK, she’s got your dream career — what jobs or internships did she use as stepping stones along the way? Her travel schedule is unreal — has she set up an agreement to work remotely? Did she find a job that involves monthly travel or cut back in other areas in order to splurge on flights? She has the most supportive partner — did she spend years culling through dating apps and figuring out her must-haves and deal-breakers? Or maybe you’re wishing your apartment looked as magazine-worthy as hers — hey, ask her how she found it and where she discovered those quirky vintage chairs.
When you reframe your jealousy as motivation, it gives you the freedom to be happy for others and to reach out with respect and interest in how they created their life. Never be afraid to ask if you want to know more about how they’ve accomplished something you admire! People love to share their successes with others.
Not sure how to reach out? Just be genuine! “Hi! I’m so impressed with how you’ve done X. I’d love to learn more about how you got there!”
Create an Actionable Roadmap for Yourself to Achieve Your Version of Success.
The best part about turning your jealousy into productivity is that it allows you to create an action plan to find the same success in your own life.
When your jealousy is no longer a vague feeling of not being enough, you can use it to say, “Sarah is doing exactly the work I hope to be doing in the next five years and I want to become a digital marketing director at a socially-conscious corporation too. In order to do that, I need to first refresh my resume and take this course in data and analytics. Then, I’ll land a role as a digital marketing manager to set me up for the director position. I’m going to attend networking events once a month and make connections at companies that are doing work that inspires me.”
And, if your jealousy is more of the, “Why am I sitting in an office while Carrie is lounging on the beach in Bali?” variety, you can think about ways to create more work-life balance. You may feel like you can’t take your vacation days without professional repercussions, but perhaps with enough preparation, you can feel comfortable leaving the office for a week. You may not have the flexibility to take a two-week European adventure, but you could do five days in Charleston.
Whatever form your jealousy takes — career, relationships, style, fitness, travel – look into ways to create an actionable roadmap to achieve your version of success in your own life. No one’s reality will look exactly the same, but you can channel those feelings of jealousy into productive moves towards your own happiness.
Don’t Forget to Recognize and Celebrate Your Own Milestones!
This goes back to expressing gratitude for what you do have, but don’t forget to hit pause and recognize when you’ve accomplished something worth celebrating! It doesn’t have to be big, but if you were feeling stuck in your career two months ago and now you have an updated resume and an interview on the horizon, pat yourself on the back! If you felt like you were living in a bubble between work and home and back again, but now you’ve planned a long weekend away, great job!
Your success may not look exactly like the Insta images that were stirring up jealousy, but if you’re making productive steps towards achieving your dreams, that’s something that’s always worth celebrating.