April 12, 2016
No matter how frequently or infrequently you find yourself feeling jealous of someone else, it always feels awful. Whether you’re struggling to keep up or simply maintaining status quo, feeling like someone else is experiencing success after success — whether earned or not — can be aggravating, and soon enough you start to question your career, your degree and even your coffee order.
This phenomenon has a name, and it’s “The Grass is Always Greener Syndrome.” It’s the sense that no matter what you’re doing, it’s not quite enough, and if only you had so-and-so’s title or what’s-her-face’s salary things would be better.
Unfortunately, jealousy in your career ruins more than just your day. If indulged too often, it can lead you to make decisions based on someone else’s judgement rather than your own or even close you off to relationships that might be mutually beneficial.
Whether you’re fighting a jealous moment for the first time or you find yourself constantly beset with everyone else’s green grass, here’s what to do when you don’t want to be jealous anymore:
Humans are wired to be the negative as a survival mechanism. If you don’t actively look for the positives in your life, you can quickly lose track of all you do have. And if you focus exclusively on everything that you want then you eventually cultivate an attitude of entitlement without considering what’s already working in your favor.
Gratitude, on the other hand, can help you see what’s working and balance it against what appears to not be working. Start a gratitude habit that forces you to consider what you have going for you in every phase of your career, such as keeping a small gratitude journal at your desk or recording what you’re grateful for on your calendar every day.
Determine whether or not it’s a real desire
Sometimes we’re jealous because we see something we are truly lacking in our lives, and that means it’s time for a change. Sometimes, however, we’re jealous because we simply aren’t tending our own garden.
Take a closer look at what’s causing you to think the grass is greener somewhere else. Would you truly be happier with different responsibilities or in a different job? Or are you jealous of the person’s perceived happiness, not their position? If it’s the former, you know it’s time to make a change. If it’s the latter, you’ll want to focus on your emotional intelligence and what’s going on in your personal life that might encourage these feelings.
Make a plan to change or let it go
I’ve fallen prey to this error in judgement too many times to count — I’ll let something I want fester in my dreams, but I don’t actually make any plans to achieve it. It’s like getting a flash of jealousy every time someone writes and posts a new article in your LinkedIn feed (who are they to share their opinion, right?) but then not unfollowing them or making a plan to post your own article.
Either you’re willing to commit to the change that the jealousy brings, or you must let yourself let it go. You can’t want to earn your PMP in project management but never take the course. You can’t crave a college degree and never make a plan to save money or carve out the time for it. You must use your jealousy as a catalyst for making your own grass greener or as an opportunity to let go.
Use tools as a part of your plan
If you’ve decided that your jealousy means it’s time for change, keep in mind that making a plan doesn’t have to call for a huge life renovation. Making progress can be as simple as setting up an alert for new positions on Simply Hired so that you’re notified when the opportunity comes up instead of having to seek it out yourself. Look into tools that can help you automate and track the changes you want to implement.
Don’t settle for watching others tend to their “career garden.” Make the grass on your side greener by practicing these tips and making small changes to help you achieve your goals.