Five ways to tame the green-eyed monster.
Nothing stirs up professional envy like the start of a fresh year. Understandable, given the tendency of all our online “friends” to publicly recap everything they’ve accomplished in the previous 12 months — and their maddening vows to top that list by summer.
If you’re anything like any other human, you’ve probably experienced a handful of less-than-charitable thoughts toward these oversharing overachievers. After reading all those humbly self-congratulatory posts, you even may have a few rebukes for yourself for falling behind.
I’m not here to deny you your envy. Nor do I wish to deny anyone their public year-end synopsizing. That would make me a hypocrite on both counts. Besides, professional envy can be useful. Not only can it help crystallize your own career goals, it also can prompt you to get off your duff and do that professionally ambitious, terrifying thing you’ve been meaning to do forever.
Here’s how to bend professional envy to your will and use it to push yourself forward.
Revisit your career goals. Thanks to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, you know that Millicent, whom you went to college with, made VP at her company, which probably means she’s making more money than God and has a cushy window office facing Puget Sound. Kudos to her. But with more responsibility comes more stress — the kind of stress that wakes people from a dead sleep at 3 a.m.
So before you spend one more minute envying Millicent, stop to consider your own professional aspirations, including stature, pay, commute, flexibility, quality of life and job satisfaction. If you still want what Millicent has, let healthy competition be your guide and start making an action plan. If not, your jealousy should dissipate pretty quickly.
Study the career trajectory of your object of envy. Most success stories don’t happen overnight. Check Millicent’s bio, LinkedIn page and press coverage to see the path she took to reach where she is today, what special skills she’s acquired along the way and which professional associations she belongs to. You may get ideas for next steps you need to take to boost your own position in your industry.
Remember that social media is just a highlight reel. People only show you what they want you to see online. Most don’t post videos of themselves botching a crucial interview question or getting dressed down by an irrational boss with anger management issues. In other words, their professional lives probably aren’t as flawlessly charmed as they seem.
Make your own highlight reel. Write your own boastful (but true!) social media post about all you accomplished professionally last year and how you intend to build on that in the coming 12 months. You don’t have to post it anywhere or show it to anyone. The point is to remind yourself that you’re a superhero, too.
Keep in mind that a highlight reel doesn’t have to feature awards, accolades, promotions and raises. For many of us, keeping ourselves and the other humans who rely on us warm and fed is equally impressive and worthy of celebration.
Set a time limit on seething. If you still feel compelled to mope and rage about Millicent’s professional station, put a 10-minute time limit on it. The time you spend hate-Googling your professional nemesis is time you instead could spend advancing your own career.
It may sound woo-woo, but you also may want to wish Millicent well. You don’t have to send her an actual message. Just congratulate her silently in your head. Then get off social media and get to work.