Career Envy

I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that I have career envy.

There’s this guy I know who had a spectacular career, made decent money (wasn’t rich), and now has a pension that would make a working person jealous.

In retirement he makes more than many people will ever make during their career (especially in this economy).

Actually, it’s not just one person who I’m jealous of, there are three people who come to mind immediately when I think about this.

Sometimes I wish I could just have a nice corporate (or even government) job, with a nice comfortable salary, terrific benefits, and know I’d be there for a few decades, to retire and be set forever.

Like those three I sometimes think about.  What would it be like to never worry about the next paycheck, or a health insurance issue….

The irony is I know some people who are in that situation – nice corporate (or government) job, with a nice comfortable salary, terrific benefits, and a hope they could be there for a few decades, to retire and be set forever.

Actually, that’s not necessarily true…. everyone I talk to in that situation is worried about where they’ll be in a few years.

And as we talk more, they share with me that they are envious of me.

Because I own my own gig.  I work from home.  I am free to do what I want (speak, consult, write books, make cool DVDs, etc.).  I won’t ever get laid off…

It turns out that we both have career envy, of one another.

Isn’t that ironic.

One of these days I’m going to figure out how to be happy with what I have.

How about you?

15 thoughts on “Career Envy”

  1. I’m glad that you’re highlighting that some people are not aware or appreciative of what they have today and end up being somewhat envious of others.

    Even though I’m between positions, I am thankful for the family and friends that are supportive and caring.
    For every person, there has to be one thing that they can be thankful for, even if it is being able to breathe and walk.
    Thanks for the great thoughts!

  2. Yeah, being satisfied is something everyone deals with. My wife is always asking me why I can just be happy where I am. I guess the biggest reason I have spent most of my working life trying to make it bigger and better. Then when you finally get bigger and better your mind starts the process over again.

    As a business owner myself, I often envy those who have safety nets. But I also know those nets come with strings. Strings I’ve grown accustomed to being without.

    Thom Allen

  3. This is what I like about you Jason. You don’t hide what you feel. Which makes you really cool. I hope someday you’ll happiness on what you do. There are thousands of people happy for what you do, you did help them in anyway you could. Now that’s just awesome. 🙂

  4. I like your honesty. I get career envy too once in a while, but it usually washes away pretty quickly. I try to keep my thoughts more along the line of, “Wow! I love what I do, I get to stay home with my kids, I get to look at my flowers growing from outside my office window, and I can drop what I’m doing in a heartbeat if a family member needs me.” These are the things that count in the end.

    “I’ll never get laid off…” Isn’t that great? I never thought of it that way. I guess we’re pretty lucky, then. 🙂

    Erin Kennedy
    Professional Resume Services

  5. I left a steady job seven years ago when I realized I was actually more stable on my own with multiple sources of income rather than just one. In the end, I started seeing my regular job as a freelance gig with only one client. I’ve been busy ever since, make more than I would have if I’d stayed, and have never regretted going on my own.

  6. Envy is a very useful emotion because it points us toward something we want. Someone lost in the mist of time told me to take envy as a very serious indicator of something I can set as a goal. Making the thing “something I wish I had” into “something I want to have” and even better “something I am workiing toward” turns a passive emotion into something useful.

    There is a finer emotion of “something I realize I never will have” but I can tell you from experience that this emotion is a lot more pleasant when you have tried and failed (or changed your mind about the goal) than when you’ve never tried at all.

  7. Bingo Jason! It’s the old story ‘the grass is always greener…’ – I think we all have this at various times in our lives (if not days).

    A good read for being happy with what you’ve got is Jon Kabat-zinn; Where Ever You Go, There You Are – excellent book.

    Take care –
    Robin Ogden

  8. Hello, Jason,

    I have been looking for work since October, 2008. In my search, I contacted one of my previous bosses. She and I got together to have a cup of coffee and chat. In her e-mails, I noticed she included a quote:

    “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at will change.” – Dr. Wayne Dyer

    I took the inspiring advice of Dr. Wayne Dyer and although I am still on the job search, I also have been spending time writing my first book. Sometimes the opportunity we search for is right in front of us.

    My belief: Maybe the grass is greener on the otherside, but you cannot be sure of that, so maybe you should go to the paint store, buy your own paint, and paint your own grass green.

    Take Care,

    Jim Horrell –

  9. Hi, Jason,

    You provide a great service to job seekers and others with Jibber Jobber, your blog, and your books. Your business was born from a need you saw in the job marketplace. I am confident you take great pride in all of those achievements. You also have a great family and colleagues who love you and support you. In my heart, I believe you are already happy with what you have, and with the future to come.

    Your post and all the comments to it, are reminders what we all need to be thankful daily for what we DO have. It helps us keep our eyes off what others have that we feel we don’t. I know that Life can turn the other way on a dime when we least expect it, so I believe in cherishing today for all its blessings.

    Kudos and hugs to you,


  10. In thinking about why envy is just not a big deal, I remembered that in my 20s, 30s and early 40s it had impact on my emotions. My suspicion is that the power of envy is tied to how we manage the stages of life. Using the traditional stages of Erik Erikson (yeah, I know there’s better stuff, but Erikson is simple), in 20s we’re probably still dealing with identity issues–envy more pronounced, stage of intimacy vs. isolation–if successful, intimacy probably pushes much envy out, then generativity–getting a bang out of helping others and leaving a legacy in them…if successfully generative, not much reason for envy. Final stage is ego integrity vs. despair…if a strong sense of life satisfaction, envy probably irrelevant.

    I’ve never seen a deadly sin (envy, jealousy) tied to successful handling of the stages of life, but my guess is that it’s appropriate.

  11. My wife and I go through the same thing – she envies my regular full time job, but I envy her part time stay-at-home job. Such is life!

  12. Ah, career envy! Don’t I know! Basically, I envy *everybody’s* career. From the nerve and resourcefulness of people who can strike off on their own and weave together a career out of what looks to me like ideas and thin air (tip o’ the hat to Jason), to all my contemporaries who became lawyers and businesspeople and made very comfortable lives for their families–and accomplished a great deal in the world as well–to the persistence, commitment, and courage of a few others who followed a passion for music, or for teaching and scholarship, and managed to gain a foothold doing what they truly love; even to those who have forged successful careers in my own worthy but profitless profession; everywhere I look I seem to see something I lack.

    Basically, I guess I envy the traits and habits that make for success in any profession, and one of my bitterest regrets is that I didn’t understand their importance and start trying to cultivate them before it was too late. As you can imagine, it’s something I try at least to impress on my kids.

  13. One thing I’ve learned with working various jobs is that there really is no ideal or perfect job. At one point in our chosen careers we get hit with the career envy bug….I should know,I got bitten several
    times. Yes there would be times when you find yourself asking “am I where I am supossed to be?”.I for one consider myself lucky…even after 12 years I still love my job!I wake up each day thankful that I get to practice my chosen profession. but don’t get me wrong,it’s far from perfect. There would be days that I would be on my feet all night,12 hours non stop,no breaks no pause. One secret to putting a lid on this career envy bug?learn to
    love what you do….it’s gonna make everything easier!And think about this….it could be worst!

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