5 Ways to Move Your Career Forward: Overcome Career Jealousy with Lessons in Parenting
January 9, 2019
The grass is always greener on the other side.
The green eyed monster.
Green with envy.
It’s not easy being green.
The last one might have been Kermit… but he’s right. It’s not easy being green with jealousy.
I know my kids can speak to this. And they have spoken to me about this, at length, when one of them is getting more attention or gets the better milk cup.
We outgrow a lot of things as we age, like the need for the Lightening McQueen water bottle, but we might not outgrow jealousy. Particularly when it comes to comparing ourselves to others in our careers.
5 Ways to Overcome Career Jealousy and Keep Moving Forward
Feeling jealous of someone else’s career success is a natural feeling. We are all working hard to achieve our goals, climb the ladder, or reach a milestone and it can be a blow to the ego when you see someone else getting there first. Raises hand high in the hair – been there!
Yet it’s important to not let that green feeling turn us blue. (Come on, give me that one. It was adorable.) Instead we can take a cue from the lessons we teach our kids and deal with career jealousy in a way that is healthy, productive, and sets you on the path towards your own success.
1) Keep practicing
Is your kid jealous of their sibling because they won the race, made the team, or brought home the A+. Well as a parent you remind your kid of their unique skills, but you also encourage them to keep practicing, keep trying and figure out how they can achieve their goal next time. Good advice huh?
What if the kid and their sibling were two coworkers competing for the same promotion? For storytelling sake we’ll call them Jamie and Jane.
Both Jamie and Jane put in long hours at the office, but Jane has also been brushing up on her financial acumen with online courses. Plus she has been reading about the company’s competitors in trade publications and can speak to how they are approaching international expansion. Jamie and Jane are both good candidates, but Jane gets the edge because she has a broader understanding of the company.
So Jamie missed the boat on this promotion, that doesn’t feel great. However, instead of letting the green eyed monster get her down for too long, she’ll work towards the next promotion and fill the skills gap. How might she do that? Courses, podcasts, articles, etc. The world is her professional development oyster! Plus she’ll be learning something new and flexing those brain muscles in a new way.
2) Ask questions
What were we taught to do as kids when we felt upset about something? Pout, pitch a fit, throw shade? No. We were taught to use our words. And if we didn’t know the answer to something? We were taught to ask questions.
So put your childhood lessons into play here. Talk to your manager about how you can improve your skills and take on more interesting projects. Volunteer for a cross-departmental task force that will give you more exposure across the company. Ask the Senior VP if you can have thirty minutes on her calendar to talk about her career progression. Talk the talk! (But also listen the listen! Soak in all that feedback and knowledge. It will take you places.)
Big takeaway on this one – no one is going to hand you a shiny new job, you have to ask. That may seem like a big ask right off the bat, but you can make a bunch of little asks as stepping stones towards your goal.
3) Wait Your Turn
I’m trying to help my kids learn how to wait all the time. Wait for the slide. Wait for Mommy to get her shoes on. Wait until you’re a little bigger to watch that alien movie. But I get it, waiting is hard. It’s hard for adults too.
Maybe you have dreamed of writing the next great American novel since you could See Spot Run. Years of writing short stories, studying grammatical structure, workshopping, and editing and none of your books have been featured in Oprah’s Book Club.
It is easy to look at another professional’s success and wonder why her and not you. Why oh why do you need to keep waiting? However, it may simply not be your time. There are hundreds of stories of successful people who didn’t “make it big” until later in life. Vera Bradley, Viola Davis, Julia Child. Keep working while you are waiting and feel assured in the fact that there is no such thing as an overnight sensation.
4) Try Something New
Try a new vegetable. Try a new sport. Try to learn addition. Try to listen the first time.
How about you? Have you been plugging away in the same role for years and it’s… well… fine. You’re fine… It would feel really great to feel more than fine though, like that woman you see at daycare pick up who looks like she is lit from within and is bounding up the stairs with the energy of seven toddlers after birthday cake.
It could be time for a change. Not sure what that change could possibly be? Check out the 100 Job Exercise to get you started.
5) Go Play Outside
Cranky kid on your hands? Go outside. Bored kid on your hands? Go outside. Mama who just needs to breathe in some different air because the kids are tearing this place apart? Go outside.
This one isn’t even going to be metaphor for something else in the career world. I really do mean simply that – feeling jealous? Go play outside.
If you find yourself in a funk over someone else’s success then pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and put in some work towards that step goal for the day instead. Taking a walk outside, even a short walk, increases your endorphins and can lift your Oscar the Grouch mood. Plus a change of scenery will help get you out of your own head.
You might still feel jealous of your Facebook friend’s success when you get back to your desk, that feeling doesn’t go away in 30 minutes. But you took control of what you could control in that moment, your body, your surroundings, your health and well-being. I’d call that a successful afternoon.
How are you feeling now? A little better? Good. Get back to work, you have some dreams to chase.
With the hopes that you’ll shake those career blues and greens,