Many people will agree that jealousy can be an awful trait. Jealousy causes some people to do things out of their normal character. And when we’re jealous of someone’s career, it’s difficult to be happy for this person.
However, most people aren’t going to walk around and acknowledge their jealous tendencies— and for good reason. But while jealousy might be one of those traits you want to sweep under the rug, it can be a good thing for your career.
Some people say they want to accomplish certain things, yet they don’t have the motivation or drive to take the first step. However, as soon as one of their peers moves up the career ladder, they suddenly fear being left behind. With that being said, jealousy can be a powerful internal motivator for anyone who needs a swift kick in the butt.
Rather than beat yourself up because you’re secretly jealous about a friend or coworker’s promotion, or the fact that a friend just received a big fat pay raise, turn this negative emotion into something positive. Here are four benefits of career jealousy.
See Also: How to Deal with a Jealous Employee
1. It Helps You Understand What You Really Want
Given the fact that some people struggle to find work and they don’t earn enough to cover their expenses, you might say you’re happy just to have a job. But while you’re grateful for your situation, that doesn’t mean you have to stay in a career that doesn’t make you happy or satisfied.
If all of your friends complain about work, their hours or salary, you might feel that you’re in good company and there’s no reason to improve your career life. The adage is true: “misery loves company.” You may not be 100% happy with your job, yet you do enjoy a measure of satisfaction knowing you’re not the only one on this boat. But all of this goes out the window the moment one of your friends flips the script and changes his life for the better. This person might find a new opportunity and, for the first time ever, he’s satisfied with his work and no longer has a reason to complain about his job.
On one hand, you might be happy that your friend made it and found his true calling. But on the other hand, you’re ready to spit nails because you’re stuck in the same place you were in before. This emotion can compel you to take a long, hard look at your situation. And since you no longer have an Amen choir to respond to your work-related complaints, your friend’s success can motivate you to really consider what you want to do with the rest of your life and assess what will make you happy.
Prior to this, maybe you felt that no one is truly satisfied in their work and there’s no sense in looking for other opportunities. Now that you know it is possible to be happy and satisfied at work, feeling jealous can motivate you to seek something better for yourself.
2. It Improves Your Work Ethic
If your supervisor hands out a promotion, you might be slightly jealous once you learn that you’ve been overlooked and a coworker is getting a bigger office, better hours and more money. It’s easy to accuse your boss of showing favoritism. But at the end of the day, you might have to acknowledge that this person worked harder than you and deserves to move up faster than you. You may not be able to control how you feel. And yes, you might have dreams of bashing in this person’s head while they’re not looking. However, being jealous about a coworker’s advancement can also motivate you to improve your work ethic.
Jealousy can bring out your competitive side, in which you feel a need to prove you’re better than this person. You might not be able to steal his job, but improving your work ethic can prepare you for future advancement.
3. You Can Recognize Your True Potential
With regard to your career, maybe you only did the bare minimum to get by because you didn’t believe in yourself, or perhaps you felt you didn’t have the skills or ability to handle a particular task. But the moment one of your coworkers is promoted to a position—perhaps to a position that makes him your superior—you start looking at your career and wondering why you’re still in the same place after all this time.
Maybe this person started working for the company at the same time as you, or maybe he was hired after you. Whatever the reason, being jealous of his advancement not only helps improve your work ethic, it can also help you realize your true potential.
In the past, perhaps you didn’t volunteer for special assignments because you felt inadequate. With jealousy fueling your desire to advance, now you’re motivated to step outside the box and challenge yourself. When it’s all said and done, you become a better employee and your boss recognizes your potential. This can be the steppingstone to a greater career.
4. You're Motivated to Get Out of a Dead-End Job
Some people stay in a dead-end job because they’re afraid of trying something new. Your income might not be enough to pay off debt, build an emergency fund, or save for retirement. You might have the skills and education to work in another area, but you don’t want to step outside your comfort zone, and you don’t like change.
This is perfectly fine, and you’re certainly entitled to feel how you feel. One of the good things about career jealousy is that it can motivate you to get out of a dead-end job. If you watch your siblings or peers advance the career ladder, you may become envious of their success and their lifestyle. You might feel left behind if you’re stuck in a job that requires long hours and little pay, which means you can’t spend as much quality time with them. Or because of a low salary, you might not be able to take vacations with your friends or attend as many social events.
If you’re literally the last one of your group stuck in a dead-end career, jealousy might keep you awake at night, and it might be difficult to be in the presence of your more successful friends. Rather than alienate yourself, take charge of your life. You have the power to get yourself out of a dead end job. You have a choice: you can either remain in the same position doing the same mindless work every single day while jealousy eats away at you, or you can improve your résumé and cover letter, take courses or workshops, and start hitting the job boards in order to find a job more up your alley.
A little career jealousy never hurt anyone. If you’re not driven or ambitious, it only takes a few of your peers advancing the career ladder to motivate you to get your act together. This doesn’t mean you have to keep up with the Joneses or try to achieve what others have. But if you don’t like where your career is going, why not challenge yourself and realize your true potential? You might surprise yourself.
Can you think of any other benefits of career jealousy? Let us know in the comments section below!