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Competition, Envy, And How To Make It Work For You

Competition can be a healthy tool for growth and motivation if used the right way.

Competition, envy, and comparison are evils today’s generation of twenty-somethings are dealing with more than ever before.

As plugged-in twenty-somethings, it has never been easier to see into so many people’s lives so quickly. Social media tools make us feel intimately connected and educated on the inner workings of friends’ and strangers’ lives.

While these tools can be used to inspire us and open up worlds of opportunity, they can also easily become a source of overwhelming envy.

Envy can stand in the way of you becoming the best you that you can be.

Sorry to get all Dr. Phil on you there, but it’s true.

Healthy competition, on the other hand, cannot only help motivate you to do your best, but it can also provide clarifying guidance to help you on your path.

Finding a rival, or someone who seems to have an end goal similar to yours, can help you think outside the box and motivate you to move forward faster than you would have on your own. The key is to not let envy toxically enter the picture. Understand that you are two different people with two different backgrounds, skill sets, and preferences. There is no way for one of you to do what the other does. You can, however, help each other grow.

Both of you might have a similar goal in regards to fitness. You both might want to run a half marathon or just get in better shape. Friendly competition can be extremely helpful if you find that this kind of motivation pushes you to get out of bed at 5:30 am to work out or to set better goal times for yourself. 

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Envy flares, however, when you start to feel resentful of the other person.

Perhaps your rival was leading a more active life than you from the beginning or ran cross-country in college causing you to feel as though they had an advantage. Whatever the situation is, keep yourself in check and don’t target your anger at your performance on your rival. Everyone is different and directing envy at your rival is good for no one. But using them as inspiration to do your own best, and vice versa, can be helpful to you both.

Fitness, of course, is the birthplace of competition. But you can just as easily find a competitor in the workforce. Sitting down for coffee and keeping tabs on someone who is your peer in your field can help you and your career path.

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Understand the root of your envy.

Perhaps your career rival secured a freelance graphic design contract you had your eye on. While you may be envious at her success, take a second to stand back and break down why you are envious. Did you want to work with that company specifically? Did you simply want a job and more work in your portfolio? 

Use the answers to these questions to help better yourself as you move forward. If you wanted to work for the company, ask for feedback on why you weren’t a good fit.

Perhaps you lack skills you could work on and make you more desirable. Develop these skills and try for another contract, or even a permanent position there in the future.

Use this new knowledge to your advantage.

If you were just after a job or more work, it’s possible that your rival was just a better fit for the company. Try to understand what your rival brought to the table that you did not. When you find a competitor, you can use them to pinpoint gaps in your own resume.

Sometimes, you’ll lose.

For example, your rival might have secured the contract because she has more experience with copywriting. You, on the other hand, realize that while you love graphic design, you hate writing. If copywriting was really important to this contract, it is probably for the better that you didn’t secure it.

Use this knowledge to make yourself into a better candidate for jobs that will be a better fit for you. 

While you can’t bring copywriting skills to the table, try to learn another skill that you do enjoy and may be helpful in your field, like a new coding language. 

While your rival may seem like your enemy at the beginning, you’ll soon find that they can not only provide you with sound advice, critique, and peer counseling, but can also act as a foil for your own skills. Understanding what makes them competitive can in turn help you understand and eventually highlight what makes you stand apart from the crowd.  

About the Author


Caroline holds a B.A. in English Literature from Westminster College in Fulton, MO. She is a copywriter and currently works for a midwest-based jewelry company. Caroline loves reading, traveling, binge watching anything on Netflix and elevating everyday life.