Envy is one of the seven deadly sins for good reason. It makes us unsettled with what we have and who we are. The world of Facebook and Twitter only intensifies our desire to travel where our friends have traveled, buy what our friends have raved about, and experience what they have experienced (the New Yorker wrote about this phenomenon, here, even though there were mixed conclusions). It’s the new world of “Keeping up with the Joneses.” And it’s unhealthy.
I used to have writers’ envy. Reading blogs and books and articles would always make me feel the familiar pang of guilt and jealousy all rolled into one. For me, envy wasn’t about wishing others didn’t succeed. It was a reflection of my own unhappiness about my own effort. I wasn’t writing (at all), so when I read someone’s blog, I wasn’t feeling envy for the blog itself-- I was feeling envy for the fact that the author had taken the action to write. When I finally bit the proverbial bullet, bought a domain, and set a blogging goal, that feeling began to wane.
If you get to the root of the envy, it’s easier to take action. I think this applies to mostly anything. Have wanderlust, but never traveled outside of the United States? Grab your suitcases and go (this is another goal of mine). Want to lose a few extra pounds? Stop saying “tomorrow” and get to the gym today. Of course, it’s always easier said than done, which is why I’ve pulled together a how-to guide, which I’ve called the “Eradicate Envy” list.
How to eradicate envy in FOUR easy-ish steps:
- Identify what you’re feeling and why. Again, for me, I was deeply upset with myself for not writing, so whenever I read someone else’s blog, I felt unsettled, jealous, and frankly disappointed in myself. It’s important to understand exactly what is causing the feeling before you can address the problem. You may find that your hatred of “selfies,” for example, is just a reflection of your own lack of confidence. Or something like that. Or, you may simply think they’re stupid, and that could be the truth of it. You won’t know until you dig deeper and examine your own emotions.
- Create a plan for positively addressing the negative. In my case, I knew my envy was stemming from my own inaction. “Research/buy a domain” was on my to-do list for months before I just did it. And just doing it felt amazing. “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today” is a piece of wisdom that I have made a part of my life. For me, blogging was a means to an end. I’m writing more than ever because I’m publically held accountable. When I don’t post, you know about it. Maybe it’s just that I’m competitive, but I hate not following through with what I say I’ll do. Pick a plan that you know will be motivating to you, personally.
- Allow yourself to struggle. Blogging hasn’t been easy, and I’m still struggling with having the discipline to come home after a long day and write-- especially since I also write a lot for my full-time job. It’s extremely hard, but I find a lot of pleasure in what I'm doing. Ultimately, if it’s the right goal, you’ll still love doing it, even if it’s hard. If it’s the wrong goal (or you have the wrong motive for doing what you’re doing), you’ll know it deep down inside.
- Stick with it, and ask for help when you need it. Success doesn’t happen overnight. You may never succeed. Yes, it sucks to think that might be the case. We can never know anything for sure, but that shouldn’t stop us from working hard to become the best version of ourselves. When it gets tough, I like to reach out to people who are working towards similar goals. What always makes me feel better is interviewing other bloggers. People like to read interviews, it helps diversify my blog, AND I myself walk away feeling motivated. It’s a win-win. Like-minded folks have likely felt the same things you are feeling, which means they may have good advice for getting past a motivational slump. Ask them for help, thank them, and keep plugging away.
So, eradicate envy, and remember that only you can prevent forest fires. Just kidding.
Eradicate envy, and remember that only you can live the life you want to live.