How to Use Jealousy to Your Advantage

For most of my life, I thought I knew what I wanted and I thought I was going after that.

  • The job promotion,

  • Job title,

  • 6 figure salary,

  • Pension plan,

  • Penthouse apartment in the city,

  • Luxury car, and

  • 5 star vacations.

The only problem was, once I got those things I still wasn't happy. Sometimes I was even jealous of people who had more than me, which made me forget how fortunate I was for the things I did have.

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

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One of the most pivotal moments in my life was a few years ago when I realized what I really wanted and I realized I could give myself permission to go after it no matter how selfish, silly, or illogical it may have seemed to everyone else. I found myself in a job that I didn't enjoy, in a city that I didn't want to live in, and living a life that was not fulfilling.

I knew I needed help getting to where the grass would be greener, but I didn't know which way that was. The answer in my mind was, "Anywhere but here." That was when I called my dad and said, "Dad, I need help, but I don't want you to send me money and I don't want to move home. I want to quit my job and move, but I don't know where to go." My dad and I have been through a lot in our relationship and he knows better than to tell me what to do (more on that in this article about why father-daughter relationships are so important) and because of that he gave me the best advice he ever could have given me. He said, "The Tara I know doesn't let anyone tell her what she can or can't do. You have lived all over the world, so pull out a map and pick a place. If you could go anywhere in the worldwhere would you go?"

I blurted out, "New York City."

This was the first time in my life that someone had asked me what I wanted and it was the first time in my life that I made a decision based solely on me.

If you think about it, we all do this. Our friends ask us for advice and we tell them what we would do if we were in their shoes, and vice versa. Eventually we learn that we shouldn't take advice from someone we wouldn't want to trade places with and we get a little more particular about who we reach out to when we need help.

I had never felt brave enough to say I wanted to live in New York because people told me it was dirty, expensive, and that everyone was mean. It didn't matter what everyone thought anymore. Well, it mattered enough for me to keep my plans a secret, but I stopped letting it hold me back from doing what I wanted to do.

I quit my job and within 30 days I had a plan. I was going to:

  • take a temp job with no job title,

  • sleep on an IKEA couch at my friends place,

  • make less money than I had ever made,

  • get no benefits except a temporary health insurance plan,

  • and sell my car.

I didn't tell anyone I was doing this though, just in case they judged me for leaving behind my seemingly "green grass" for something that might sound crazy.

Albert Einstein said, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Well, this was different alright. At least I had that going for me.

I couldn't keep it a secret for long though. People started noticing that I was doing something differently (thank you social media for making it hard to hide) and instead of judging me they asked me, "What's your secret?" They thought I was so brave for leaving everything behind. The truth was, I didn't feel brave. I felt like I was running away because the fear of everything staying the same was worse than the fear of the unknown.

I started helping a few friends by sharing advice about what I was doing. (Here's an article in ThriveGlobal I wrote about my bucket list I made after I got to New York City.) Each of them said the same thing, "Tara, you can't keep this stuff a secret because everyone needs to know this!" That's what led to me starting a business, because "everyone needs to know this stuff." It is also when I realized that playing small doesn't do anyone any favors (more on that in this article).

One of the things I started doing differently was shifting my perception of "the grass is greener on the other side":

  • I stopped hanging out with people who used jealousy to complain about other people

  • I started using jealousy as a clue for where I wanted to be

You see, for a long time I lived my life thinking, "I don't know what I want, but I definitely know what I don't want." So my strategy was to run away from the don'ts in whatever direction "away" was, sort of like pulling your hand away from a fire that you get too close to. You don't have time to think about the best direction to pull away in so you don't knock anything over or make a mess or spread the fire. You just know you have to get away.

When I started using jealousy as a clue for the direction I wanted to go on my path, everything changed.

  • I was hanging out with more interesting people who were doing extraordinary things.

  • I knew what I wanted.

  • I had people in my life who wanted to mentor me and help me get there.

And the other thing I could do was send so much love, happiness, well wishes, and air hugs to that person I envied for showing me the way just by being who they are and achieving what they had achieved.

Now I hardly notice that jealous feeling, but when I do it makes me giggle because I know I just found a clue as to where I want to go next. That clue keeps me trying to be better today than I was yesterday and I know I am luckier to be scaling the side of the mountain than I ever was sitting at the top.

For more information on how you can work with Tara to align your core values with your business practices, click here.