Don’t Let Job Jealousy Kill Your Motivation—Do This Instead

We all know those people who seem to have absolutely perfect jobs. They radiate enthusiasm every single time they talk about what they did in the office that day. Their social media accounts are littered with career stories and photos (wait, is that her posing with Bon Jovi in her office conference room?!) that would make anybody turn green with envy.

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You want to be the bigger person, paste on a smile, and be happy for that person that seems to be achieving so much success and fulfillment with his or her career. But, let’s face it—you’re struggling to be that big of person. You’re only human after all.

So, while you might force a grin and spit out a half-hearted and cliché, “I’m so glad you’re doing so well!”, inside you feel downright covetous. Why does that person get to work a job that she loves day in and day out, while you feel like you’re stuck chained to a desk that’s slowly sucking the life out of you?

We’ve all probably experienced this career jealousy far more times than we’d like to admit. And, it can be a frustrating feeling. But, luckily, there’s something productive you can do with it (and, no, I’m not talking about trying to steal that person’s job).

Instead, you can turn around and use your job jealousy for something positive—something that will actually end up yielding results you can be happy with. Sound too good to be true? Well, check out these steps and prepare for the inevitable envy of all of your friends (my, how the tables have turned).

1. Give Yourself a Reality Check

First things first, it’s time to swallow that brutal pill of reality: There’s no such thing as a perfect job. No matter how ideal people can make their positions sound, that definitely doesn’t mean that they never come across those days when they feel tempted to curl up under their desks and hide from the world.

Today, it’s become all too easy to fall into the comparison trap—particularly with social media. But, it’s important to remember that you’re really only ever seeing the highlight reel of people’s lives and careers.

They’re all too willing to share the news of their big promotion or that awesome project they just completed—we all want to make ourselves look good, after all. But, the fact that their boss is a quintessential micromanager or that he quite literally can’t tolerate a key duty associated with his job? Well, let’s just say he’s going to be a little more tight-lipped with that information—it won’t be clogging up your newsfeed anytime soon.

2. Use it as a Learning Experience

When someone else is experiencing something great, your first reaction will likely involve being totally overcome with jealousy. I won’t even try to put an end to that—it’s pretty normal, really.

But, let’s not confuse normal with productive. Once you’ve gotten over your initial, “Ugh, I wish that was happening to me!” reaction, it’s time to take a step back and find out what you can learn from this situation. Take a magnifying glass to what exactly is inspiring those feelings of envy so that you can use those to move forward yourself.

Perhaps you currently work in marketing, but your acquaintance’s job in video production has really piqued your interest—from that, you could ascertain that you might want to look at making a career shift. Or, maybe it’s even something smaller than that. Maybe someone’s flexible hours seem incredibly appealing to you—meaning you should consider having a conversation with your boss about adjusting your schedule.

The important thing here is to really try to zone in on those things that are inspiring your jealousy. And, you’re going to want to dig in and go beyond those standard, “Well, I want it because she has it,” sort of feelings.

Really narrow your focus to pick up on the key things that you think would lead to a greater sense of fulfillment and satisfaction for you. You’ll need those for the final step.

3. Set Goals and Milestones

Now, it’s time to put that information you gathered to work by setting some actionable goals and milestones.

For example, maybe you’ve determined that you’d like to switch to a completely new career field. That can seem like an overwhelming undertaking at first—there’s no denying that. So, breaking that into smaller steps will help the whole process feel that much more manageable.

Maybe you want to start by doing some job shadowing and getting a little experience to confirm that you really want to get involved in that industry. Then, perhaps you want to set up some informational interviews or take a course to start building up your skills.

Of course, these specific action items and tasks will vary depending on what exactly your objective is. But, if you can manage to turn around and use your jealousy to set some real, inspirational goals for yourself, you’re sure to make the most of your envy—by turning it into pure motivation for yourself.

And, that person you were jealous of to begin with? Well, he or she will likely be an awesome resource for you as you continue taking steps forward. See? Jealousy really can pay off.

Written by

Kat is a Wisconsin-based freelance writer covering topics related to careers, self-development, and entrepreneurship. Her byline has appeared in numerous outlets and publications, including Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, QuickBooks, Business Insider, and more. Find out more about her on her website, or connect with her on Twitter.

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