Envy is bad. It’s one of the seven deadly sins, along with its pals pride, greed, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth. It’s super destructive if you just focus on what other people have.
But Amy Alkon flipped that on its head with her article in Psychology Today, The Power of Positive Envy. Alkon thinks that we’ve spent too long using the term envy when we mean jealousy. Jealousy rots us, while envy can motivate us.
If you see something that someone else has that you want–be it a career or a car–you can sit on your behind and whine about it, or you can change your behavior to work towards that. She writes:
[Evolutionary social psychologist Abraham “Bram”]Buunk and his team explain that there are actually two kinds of envy, malicious envy and benign envy. Each kind motivates people to try to shrink that “status gap” between themselves and others. The difference is in how. Benign envy pushes people to work harder in hopes of matching or beating the competition. Malicious envy is the nasty kind — the kind that motivates a person to loosen the ladder rungs, hoping to cause their golden-girl co-worker to topple to her (professional) death.
It’s the time of year when we set goals. If you look around and want something, you can set a goal and work toward it. But, keep in mind, it’s actual work.
I’ve had many people contact me over the years and ask how I manage to make a living as a freelancer. They want to write and make money as well. I give everyone the same advice:
- Pick a genre, preferably an area you’re already an expert in.
- Write five, 500-800 word posts.
- Establish a website.
- Then send me your posts and I’ll give you feedback.
Do you know how many have done this? One time, I had one person write write article. I’ve probably given this advice to 30 people (and now I give it to all of you for free). They all thought freelance writing was their key to working at home and raking in the cash. (Ha!)
But, they weren’t willing to do the work. They wanted someone to pay them before they even started writing. It doesn’t work that way. You need a portfolio. You need a website.
Sure, other people have done it without that. Someone has undoubtedly had the sky open over their head and the angel of freelance writing contracts appears and suddenly you’re writing for the New Yorker. But, the reality is, most of us work very hard to get where we are.
Other people ask how I became an HR Influencer. The answer is pretty much the same. Every single day I work. Every single day I read things about business and HR. Every single day. Even when I’m not writing, recording, or creating webinars, I’m scanning the business pages, reading a wide variety of information, and putting it in my brain. (I enjoy the information gathering, so I can happily be on vacation and reading my RSS feed. YMMV.)
If you want these things, use that envy in a postive light. Go out and get it. It’s a lot of work to accomplish any important goal, but you can do it.
And if you do want to become a freelance writer, do take my advice and I will give you feedback.