Jealousy and envy are not necessarily the most attractive traits of humanity, but at least they’re honest. If you’re having trouble figuring out what kind of work you love, try paying closer attention to the things you envy.
Photo by Gabriel S. Delgado C.
Susan Caine, writing for Psychology Today, suggests that you’ll have an easier time finding work that you enjoy if you pay attention to the times you envy the work of others:
Back when I was a Wall Street lawyer, some of my former law school classmates got together one evening, and compared notes on alumni career tracks. They spoke with admiration and, yes, jealousy, of a classmate who argued regularly before the Supreme Court. At first I felt critical of their envy. “More power to that classmate!” I thought, congratulating myself on my magnanimity. Then I realised that my largesse came cheap, because deep down I didn’t aspire to the accolades of lawyering. When I asked myself whom I did envy, the answer came back instantly. My college classmates who’d grown up to be writers, or psychologists.
When you pay attention to what you envy, it gives you a pretty clear end goal to focus on. While that may be a lofty goal, we can’t start figuring out the little steps to get there until we have that end point. If you’re having trouble discovering what kind of work you’d really truly enjoy, let yourself be jealous and envy others. You might figure out what you’re looking for.