Antwea Redic recalls the sick feeling she got when she encountered alumni of her graduate school at various meetings and annual conferences who had landed great jobs because they knew the right people.
“I hated hearing about the lucrative and prestigious positions my colleagues had landed as a result of who they or their parents knew,” says Redic, explaining that as the youngest daughter in a large family solely supported by a father with only a high school diploma, she felt disadvantaged.
Author Shira Boss asserts that Redic’s experience with envy, although unfortunate, is quite common. In her book, Green With Envy: Why Keeping Up With the Joneses is Keeping Us in Debt (Warner Business Books; $24.95), Boss maintains that we tend to compare ourselves to our closest peers — classmates, co-workers, siblings, and neighbors — “to see how we measure up and, secretly, who we must catch up with.” She writes that “those with similar backgrounds to ours, with similar advantages and opportunities, those are the people we believe we should be able to match.” It’s when we think we don’t that we often become envious.
“I envied those with the great jobs and resented that I didn’t have their family connections to jump-start my career,” says 39-year-old Redic, who is now the president and CEO of Just Say It Inc., a Chicago-based boutique agency that provides creative greetings and expressions for special occasions.
Eventually, the trained analyst had an epiphany: “I needed to stop wasting time being envious and start making time to achieve what I wanted.” The spirited self-starter, who paid her own way through college by working several part-time jobs, says she now believes that being envious was an excuse for her laziness. “Whether it was my colleagues or their parents, someone had worked hard to gain name recognition and build ties to influential people. Quite frankly, I needed to get out and do the same.”
Redic used the following maneuvers to escape the suctioning tentacles of the green-eyed monster, and so can you:
Admit your feelings of envy then use the power of that emotion to fuel positive objectives. Redic says that once she acknowledged that she had a problem, she was able to focus on how to solve it. “I redirected the energy I was using to be hateful toward mastering the art of networking. Instead of succumbing to feelings of envy when I bumped into colleagues, I sought them out to ask for personal referrals and company recommendations.”
Appreciate your worth. Identify the unique inner strengths, skills, and resources you have; appreciate them and use them effectively. Resist tying your self-worth to external things such as job title, income level, or material possessions. Redic repeatedly reminded herself that regardless of her humble beginnings and meager network of contacts, she was a competent professional capable of working alongside her peers.
Set your own bar. Don’t let others define success for you. “I identified the position I wanted and the income level I wanted to achieve, then I outlined a strategy to accomplish it,”