Like many people, I’m a member of LinkedIn. I think it’s a fabulous tool for keeping in touch with people and very well could help advance my career. Last week I logged into my account to accept a connection from a friend and I had a surprise waiting. My college freshman roommate’s title was listed as a vice president at a huge financial institution. I realize financial companies have a lot of vice presidents, but it is still an amazing job title – and certainly a salary to match. I was immediately jealous at his success. I flashed back towards college and remember the guy that could and would out-party everyone in the dorm.
I know I’m not the first person to feel this way. In fact most people probably experience at their high school reunions. I immediately left my desk at work and went for a short walk. I had to process what change of events could have occurred to make him so successful.
I didn’t dwell on that those thoughts too long, but quickly turned to my own situation. I’m not a big-wig at a company that everyone has heard of. In fact, the company I work for is so small few people in the local area have heard of it. I do make a salary that exceeds the average American’s by a wide margin. I have this blog, with great readers and commenters, that is far more successful than I ever imagined.
After thoughts about career status success, it occurred to me that there are many more areas to judge success. LinkedIn doesn’t tell me if Mr. VP spends twelve hours a day at work. It doesn’t tell me if he has a loving wife to come home to. It doesn’t say whether he has great friends or whether he’s happy with his life. Perhaps it’s time for another Self Appreciation Day – and perhaps I’m just as successful as Mr. Big-Wig VP after all.
Mr. VP says
Aside from my huge salary… I only works 7 hours a day. I have a young lovely wife who is a Victoria’s Secret model. I have many great friends — many of them are very high up in their respective organizations. I have huge home and just brought a brand new yacht. You should also see my collection of sport and luxury cars. I am also extremely happy with my life. You should be jealous. :-)
Eevr notice how your eyes glaze over and your mind wanders when you’re at a social event and someone is talking animatedly to you about their job? That’s how important what you do for a paycheque is to other people. Your ability to roll out those TPS reports at a world-class clip is only impressive to others in the TPS world, at the end of the day.
My brother-in-law is a big wig VP at a major financial institution making a load of money, and he’s not all that bright, didn’t do that well in college, probably partied a lot. But, he got lucky with family connections into the job. But he works almost constantly, always looks exhausted and is a jerk. So although he may make a lot and have a title, I’m happy without that kind of life and personality.
Baz L says
Yep, I know the feeling. You bust your butt from the start, but yet there’s Tom, Dick and Harry just sailing by, not a care in the world, never had one and never will.
While you were busting your butt back in the day, you took comfort in the fact that the fairness of life would even things out. That they’d get what was coming to them, the cruel world would shake some reality into them, whereas you are prepared for what will come and all your hard work will pay off.
But alas, they make more and work less than you do.
This is my remedy: Well, I can’t express it as I usually do (I’m sure you have some comment policy about profanity), but you just gotta keep on trucking and try not to notice them when they pass you on the highway in a car 5 time the worth of yours.
But it does sting a lil’ bit.
The bottom line is, are you happy with your life? Sounds like you are. And with good reason.
I struggle with this constantly. I know I have a good life, a good job, good friends, etc. etc. I the number of people in the world who rather be in my shoes (or any American’s) is astounding. Still, every so often I come across news blurb about some classmate of mine doing XY and Z, I’m jealous. It’s not like I really care about having that kind of lifestyle, but I do care a bit somehow. It’s very conflicting. That’s how I felt reading the recent NYT time article about the young hedge fund folk. Oh well.
Customers Revenge says
I think you should be a little jealous. I’m a little jealous too when others have done more with their lives than I have. In my own mind I’m dellusional that I’m the best in the world at everything, but one of the only things that keeps me grounded is seeing others do better than I have. It’s a way of breaking that cycle and seeing that there are more possibilities than I’ve achieved.
Like the tired old story of the 4 minute mile. Until someone broke it, it was impossible. Then immediately others, seeing that it was possible, managed to do it.
Wow, I’m really surprised by the other comments above. I have become jealous on reading what some of my ex-classmates have achieved (one a successful triathlete, one a professional racing driver, one who inherited a large sum, among others) but just being a VP at an investment bank wouldn’t even register with me.
To anyone who may get a little jealous sometimes, including myself, I say:
Let other’s success inspire you to be better. Do not be jealous, or you will never stop. There will always be someone better than you, and always someone worse. You live in America. You’re probably in the top 5% of humans in the world. Is this not good enough? If I become VP, should I now be jealous of the CEO? When I become CEO, should I now become jealous of the CEO of a larger company? When does it end?
has a title, has a nice salary…how much debt does he have?
but there you go again, comparing yourself to someone else. living life on someone else’s measuring stick, isn’t a life. make your own yard stick, and live accordingly.
Kyle @ Rather-Be-Shopping says
You nailed it! There are many ways to measure success, and as far as I am concerned the most important ones don’t involve money or a job title.
I think it’s better to strive for the ability to be happy for other’s successes, than to actually strive to replicate their (apparent) successes. Once I achieve that, I’ll be happy with myself as well.
I had the same reaction when I went onto facebook and realised that an ex-boyfriend has kids now. I don’t even like/want children, but it just made it seem like he had been more successful than I have.
Its hard to avoid this kind of stuff, I should probably try to stop comparing, and consider whether or not I am happy where I am, regardless of what everyone else is doing.
The Financial Blogger says
Unfortunately, you will always find somebody that has more financial success than. It stings when it is somebody you know because you think about how he got that job and not me. You might not be as known as him in your work environment, but I can assure you that you are being read by more people than he is being listened to ;-)
Right on sister! What matters is one’s happiness. So, if you’re happy with your life, then that’s all you need.
[Editor’s note: Sister?!?!]
You nailed it. We look at the outside – rich people are just as miserable by %s as normal people. Wealth only buys ‘freedom’ and ‘more choices’ not happiness. Same divorce rates. Same screwed up kids (if not more) etc.
Also we judge by clothes, cars, and titles. Many people in those BMWs and Mercedes and Lexus are leasing cars they could not afford if they actually made payments or a traditional loan. And they are in over their head. That is the crux of much of this mortgage issue – people wanting homes they could not afford – so they could show you what neighborhood they live in, so you can look them up by zip code in LinkedIn and be jealous.
You made a great point – many people at the top of corporations never see their kids soccer game since they work into the evening, miss birthdays due to travel, and eventually divorce their spouse since they are married to the job. Or cheating on it. So look big picture – if you can phase out that tendency to ‘compare’ to others, you’d be happy as would most people. Most people are overspending, and overdoing because they see someone else in the rat race doing so – everyone is a step on the ladder – the rich look up the ultra rich, see bigger yachts, bigger homes, hotter wives, and want to trade up so this ‘performance’ anxiety is in the whole spectrum. It’s pretty sad.
Why don’t you start your own company, you can be the president which is obviously cooler than being a lowly VP!
I hope that this particular VP likes his job, loves his family and is enjoying a well-balanced life. I’ve heard enough bad news lately – time for some good stuff.
How does someone else’s success threaten you in any way (unless they robbed you)? I don’t mean to sound smart-alecky, I just don’t get it.
I think a little bit of jealousy is a *good* thing :) Use it as fuel to motivate yourself and you’d be surprised how much success it can bring to *you*.
I felt jealous earlier this summer when one of my close friends got a fabulous job offer at a newspaper. My feelings stem from my own failure to succed in journalism full-time as a reporter. But then I thought about what Trent wrote awhile back on his jealous feelings of the reader who had a trust fund and thought about the sunscreen song. I’m sure everyone’s heard of it but the line says “don’t waste your time on jealously, sometimes you’re ahead sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.”
But feeling just a tinge of jealousy briefly is definitely a good motivator – it’s a reminder to keep kicking ass and work smarter.
Being jealous is indeed normal – but personally, I couldn’t find myself jealous of someone else’s success. It would simply motivate me to see if I could duplicate their winning ways in my own life. And it would have to be so much more than a good job or nice home -it would be something along the lines of “I make a million bucks a year blogging” or something to that effect.
The google ads on this post are really funny: “Make him fall in love” and “Inside a guy’s mind”. Anything you want to tell us lazyman?
You could take it as a compliment. Like minds attract attract like-minds.
I will always love my own husband sooo much and moreover he is indeed , awesome for me. I completely love everything around him. The only problem though, is he is friends with so many ladies and I can’t stand realizing that he has been talking to a number of ladies in place of myself. I hate being jealous. I’m trying to just ignore the jealousy but I can’t. Please help me out. Thanks.
Bret @ Hope to Prosper says
I’m rarely jealous of others, including those who make a lot more than me. Like you, I make above average income, have a fun blog and a wonderful family. I spend most of my time feeling blessed, instead of feeling inferior.
average guy says
It was a hard lesson for me to learn, but I learned it:
It’s more important for me to be be happy with myself and happy about myself, than it is for me to think others are envious or jealous of me.
Once I let go of caring what others’ might think, I became less anxious, less stressful, and over a happier person. And I could concentrate more on what made me happy, not what I thought others might think of me or what I am doing or how I am doing.