We’ve all been there. You happen to catch a notification on LinkedIn from a former colleague who’s suddenly scored an unbelievable promotion. Or maybe you bump into an old friend who practically doubled their salary after being headhunted. With the 24/7 nature of social media, we are constantly bombarded with other people’s updates.
Whether it’s on Instagram, Snap, Facebook or in real life, in an age of constant notifications it can feel like others are accelerating way faster than you are. If the career you’re coveting seems to have landed on someone else’s plate, it doesn’t mean you can’t, or won’t, achieve your goals, too.
Of course, it’s great to feel inspired by others who are achieving success. But what do you do when someone else’s trajectory makes you feel sick with envy?
1. Recognize That It’s OK to Feel Career Envy
First things first: it’s OK. Really, it is. You’re human and we all have emotions. The fact you recognize the feelings is important and you can channel those feelings into building your career in a positive way.
2. Turn Your Attention Back to You
Look at your achievements and your goals without the filter of anyone else’s accomplishments to cloud your view. If that feels uncomfortable, perhaps because you can’t shake the perception that someone else is moving ahead faster, remember this one fact. Even if you both started at the exact same point with the exact same skills, your journeys will not be the same, and that’s OK.
Even if you know the individual concerned as a colleague or a friend, you may not know everything about their back story, or the reality of their career journey. Even the jobs that look fabulous and exhilarating from the outside can be stressful and unfulfilling on the inside. All we know is how our own career path feels, and that’s where we need to focus attention.
3. List Your Accomplishments
Instead of comparing yourself directly to others, push yourself to list what you’ve accomplished and what you’ve learned in your career so far. These experiences, even the tough times, are the building blocks that you will use to carve out your career path as you continue to move forward. And you will move forward, it just may not be at the same pace or in the same manner as someone else.
4. Know That It’s OK to Struggle
As a career coach, it’s my job to motivate, support and help you navigate the path to achieving your goals. But I also know how devastating it can feel when things aren’t going well. Back when I graduated, I assumed if you worked hard your career was supposed to follow a rapidly ascending trajectory. The reality is there are peaks and dips, and occasional periods where we can feel like we’re moving backwards.
If you’re not where you want to be yet, that’s totally fine.
5. Make Career Plan
Instead of focusing on others, invest in yourself. If you don’t have one already, make a career plan. Trust me, it’s not as a scary as it sounds, and I don’t expect you have all the answers for how you’ll get there. But if you make time to sit down and start to outline where you want to be, it will be a step easier to start brainstorming some of the steps you anticipate you’ll need to take to get there. Think through how you can leverage what you do best. Think about the skill sets or connections or experience you need to acquire to help you get where you need to be.
6. Determine Your Future Goals Beyond Your Job Title
This is the point where you get to have fun and think deeply about everything that matters to you when it comes to your work. Ask yourself some probing questions such as:
- What type of locations do you want to work in?
- What environments motivate you?
- What type of hours could you see yourself doing?
- Which skills do you want to develop?
- Is there anything that’s non-negotiable for you?
Get real about what you want to work toward, because your career is super important. You deserve to really focus on what you want and then plot the route to move towards your goals.
7. Make It Happen
Next, it’s time to act. This is the key part. Channel all your energy into taking those steps towards the career you’re building. One step at a time.
While you’re working on your goals, don’t forget this. Even if you’re not where you want to be, someone is looking at you, feeling envious and hoping they make it to the point you’re at right now.
Tell Us What You Think
Have you suffered from career envy? We want to hear from you. Share your story in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.