It's so easy to fall into the "comparison trap" when scrolling through your Instragram (Twitter, Facebook, you name it) feed and seeing everyone's reel of their highly edited reality. When presented in a nice scrolling list format, it's hard for our minds to process each individual post without just lumping them all together and simply saying "everyone is doing better than me."
I find this to be particularly true amongst creatives who are constantly looking to grow their businesses. I know the feeling: this person has HOW many followers? Their shop update sold out in an hour flat? They're publishing a book!?
We've all heard "being popular on instagram is like being rich in monopoly money" - well, yes and no. A Mom racking up likes on photos of her kids is one thing but there is a whole other side of social media that is essential for business marketing. There are tons of resources out there telling you how to use social media for your business and grow your following. It's clear: the higher the numbers, the higher your influence and the more growth your company will see. There's a reason companies spend big bucks on social media optimization.
So yes, social media is necessary and even essential for your small business. Numbers do matter and jealousy of your peers is going to be something you will need to deal with. The trick is in how we think of jealousy.
First things first, let's talk Smoke and Mirrors. Let's face it, what people are presenting to the outside world is inaccurate. Studies have shown that people are less likely to reveal their negative emotions and, in addition, people overestimate positivity in the lives of others. You're looking at an incomplete picture and further distorting the information. And businesses? We're all guilty of a little "fake it 'til you make it."
So, let's move on to the good stuff: how to make jealousy work for you.
1) Use Jealousy as a Tool to Motivate. Admiration and envy are responses to what we value most in our lives. Even if what we're reacting to isn't necessarily the whole truth, there is no clearer tool to show us what we desire and want. When you feel jealous of someone or something, it reveals to you what you feel is missing in your own life.
So how do we flip jealousy around and make it into something positive? Here are some tips from Grace Bonney of Design Sponge* from her "Jealousy" podcast.
-Step 1: Acknowledge the feeling you're having. Write down or say out loud exactly what you're feeling and what it is that you feel is missing. Once you recognize what exactly you are reacting to, you can separate the negative energy from that emotion and turn it into motivation. Don't get angry about what someone else has, figure out why it's making you angry and go from there.
-Step 2: Investigate the reality of what you're jealous of. No, that person you're jealous of doesn't have a perfect life. They might have made different life decisions, but neither your path nor theirs is right or wrong, it's just different. If you have kids or your creative business is a part time job, you don't have the same time and resources to dedicate to growing your business as someone who does it full time. When you view someone's situation as a whole, it helps you develop an appreciation for the work they do and what they've accomplished.
-Step 3: Investigate your own reality. When you feel jealous of someone, it's easy to brush everything you've achieved under the rug. These things are really important! If you're feeling crushed by jealousy, make a list of all the things you've achieved in the last year, not just the business related ones. Seeing that you have achieved things that other people might also be jealous of helps put your jealousy into perspective.
-Step 4: Take steps to make jealousy work for you. This is a huge opportunity to move forward and you have to create a clear action plan to put this opportunity to work. "I'm jealous of this, the reason I'm jealous is because of this, I would like to achieve this, and this is how I will achieve it". Break it down and research each step of the plan, don't just state one overarching plan like "I want to open a restaurant." This is too big of a piece and chances are you'll give up on it before you even begin.
2) Look to Jealousy for Collaboration and Friendship. If you're jealous of someone, it means you admire what they do and aspire to accomplish similar things in your business. Why not look to these people as collaborators, co-workers or even mentors? There isn't just one spot for success in each industry. If it happens for one person, it's good for everyone in that industry because it sets a benchmark as to what is achievable for someone in a similar position to you. You wouldn't want to work in an industry where no one was making any growth would you? Appreciate that your industry is getting attention thanks to someone's effort and then use that growth and your new action plan to take your business to the next level!