3 Steps to Turn Jealousy Into Motivation

The battling emotions of happiness versus jealousy that occur from seeing professional success bestowed upon a friend or colleague are strong and often confusing, and each of us artists and creatives experience them from time to time.

How can you flip the negative mindset of jealousy into something positive and motivating?


Jealousy 500


First, let’s explore an example.

A friend of yours from graduate school has recently won a prestigious grant for his photography work. His work is incredible, and the grant is very well-deserved. But you can’t help but feel bad about yourself when you hear his good news—which is really quite ridiculous, since you are a sculptor, not a photographer, and a generous and nice person, to boot.

Still, days and weeks go by and you see all of the Facebook posts congratulating him while he humbly shines in his new role as prestigious grantee. You have not, however, commented on any of the posts or congratulated him over email because you are just so incredibly envious of his situation. This makes you feel worse, since this is not a grant you are even qualified to get, nor one for which you would have applied. But still… it feels bad and has stirred up an otherwise productive and successful month for you.

Does all of this sound familiar? If it doesn’t, good for you (and you’re lying!). And if it does, welcome to the club.

These aggravating feelings are actually a very clear indication that you, too, want to win a prestigious grant for your work. You want the recognition, to have made work that can shine and thrive under this attention and understand that it’s a professional leap towards what you consider success. This self-awareness is actually a gift, because you have instinctively pointed out an important goal for your professional career to act upon immediately.

Next time you experience these battling emotions, take some time and do the following:

  1. Ask yourself a difficult question: why do I feel jealous?
    By spending time writing down your thoughts or talking it over with a friend, you will most likely have the opportunity to define a very important goal for yourself that you now need to stride towards achieving. So write it down and make it a priority.
  2. Consider this: what are the circumstances that allowed this other person to experience success?
    Since every artist follows his or her own path to success on his or her own timeline, the reality is that you will achieve your goals, too, in your own way and when you are supposed to. But it’s important to clarify how and why they got there, and what are the steps to how and when you will achieve your own goal. They are going to be different. That’s a good thing.
  3. Don’t forget to set your sights outward and ask yourself: can I learn from this person or from other people in my community? Your colleague is great person to get to know and learn from, and by reaching out for a casual meeting you will be displacing the envy and jealousy into productivity, cultivating community, and learning from peers.

Next time you feel jealous, remember that you are on your own path to success, and negative feelings can be really powerful motivators to identifying a new professional goal and starting on your own unique path to achieving it. Good luck!



Andrea Wenglowskyj and Sara Jones

Andrea Wenglowskyj and Sara Jones

Kind Aesthetic is a unique creative agency that works with artists, creative entrepreneurs, small businesses and organizations who need genuine storytelling and beautiful marketing materials. We’re happy to offer feedback and work with you either through the DELVE Toolkit, a unique, affordable, one-on-one consulting program for individuals who want to hone their own skills, or through our more extensive, bespoke services. Let us help you focus on your amazing work, instead of feeling uneasy that you’re not representing it in the best possible way.

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