An Envious Life – Money & Success Isn’t Always What It Seems

What Are You Envious Of?

As human beings it’s only natural that we occasionally envy others.

Some people just seem to have it all; a nicer house, a better job, more savings or just a seemingly perfect life.

I Hate My Life

Picture by KayVee.INC

What we often don’t take into consideration is at what price did these people pay to get where they are at today. Was it years of hard work to amass their savings? Did they give up family time or possibly work jobs that they hated? Or maybe we feel a little envious of their material possessions, not realizing that they took on a huge amount of debt to acquire such things.

There will always be someone who has more money or more talent than you. Likewise you will always be one step ahead of somebody else.

Define Your Own Success

The definition of success is unique to every single person. There is no single answer and there is no one size fits all.

Success should be defined by your priorities. What really matters to you in life? For me success would be raising my children to be happy, confident people.

Yes – I’ll be the first too admit, there are times when I get envious of other peoples success and goals.

I read amazing blog posts and wish I could be as creative.

I read other peoples saving goals and wish I had as much money saved. I see new businesses popping up left and right and wish that I was the one opening a business.

But they all worked their butts off to reach the level of success that they are at and I do not know how long it took them or what they sacrificed.

What I’ve learned though is that, in the end, I need to concentrate on what is best for me, not what everyone else is doing.

Turning Envy Into Inspiration

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe someone else does have what you want and the sacrifices they made seem legit to you. Let that be your motivation. Instead of envying this person, learn from them.

Take note on how long it took them to reach their success. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Most people would be flattered to know you want to make it to the point that they are at today.

No two lives are the same. Learn from others but realize the steps you need to take to reach success will be unique to your situation.

Perspective May Change Your Outlook

The next time you find yourself becoming jealous of someone else, stop and ask yourself “what did this person sacrifice to get where they are at today?”

A lot of the time you will find you have nothing to be envious of after all.

Editor’s Note: much of the problem I see with clients that I coach is that we’re all envious of one another. Despite realizing it, much of the way you spend money ultimately relates to some sort of jealousy, envy, or perception issue. We’re constantly buying nicer things to improve our perception or to make ourselves feel better. The term ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ has been tossed around forever…and for good reason. We consistently try to keep up and often unknowingly compare our lives to somebody else’s in the process. However, I’ve personally found that you’ll never find peace until you’re content with what you have. Often the most success people in the world have given up a GREAT deal to get there: time with friends and family, missing out on their childrens’ lives, and being an absent husband/wife. Just because somebody has a seemingly perfect life on the outside often doesn’t tell the story of what they’re feeling underneath.

{14 Comments}

  1. Todd Garth says:

    Same here, I envy successful people a lot, who has everything in their life; a big house, a nice car, a beautiful family and a perfect lifestyle. I’m so curious on how they became so successful. I should probably shake my pride for a moment and start asking for advice and tips – and use my envy as inspiration! This is a great article and a great reminder to us all, thank you for posting.

    • Andy says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Todd! It’s hard not to get envious as you see other people but you don’t know what they’ve done to get there…so I’d always keep that in the back of your mind. While their lives look glamorous on the outside, they may have given up friends, family, and/or leisure to get to where they are.

  2. It is hard not to compare yourself to others but for me what I do is pretend that everyone worked crazy to get it and sacrificed other things or is crazy in debt so those two things help me no longer want what others have because I don’t want to have to work crazy hours or be in debt 🙂

  3. “But they all worked their butts off to reach the level of success that they are at and I do not know how long it took them or what they sacrificed.”

    Bingo. My wife and I aren’t wealthy, but we seem to be above the median net worth-wise. We’ve learned not to share or even hint at this info with friends because of the envy it inspires. Sometimes people seem almost angry–‘what did you do to deserve to be able to work part-time at your age?!?’ To us, the answer’s always quite obvious if the questioner is someone we know well. We usually just shrug and attribute good fortune, but it’s tempting to answer something like, well, we don’t smoke (like you), we don’t go to pubs 4 times a week (like you), we didn’t take cash out of our house to buy a camper trailer (like you), our credit cards aren’t maxed (like you), etc., etc. For most people most of the time, financial success reduces to the accumulated decisions, big & small, over a lifetime that affect money. We got where we are because we made some good decisions about our lifestyle and priorities. Simple.

  4. Great post. Success is living a good life on your own terms.

  5. Michelle says:

    Katie!!! I like her 🙂

    I agree that you need to define what success means for YOU. I could get down when I read that some other blogger is doing a triathalon or only spent $40 on groceries for a week when there’s no way I could do those things! I could get pouty and feel woe-is-me about it, or I could say “maybe I can’t do a triathalon, but I could do that 5k next week!”

    Side note: Katie, I didn’t know you were so young! I also had 2 kids by that age. Most people that age are just getting out of school and maybe thinking about marriage and I already had a husband, a mortgage, 2 kids, 2 car payments, etc etc. I have friends that are just now buying their first house. I’m 30, so it’s not that weird, but I feel like I’ve been paying this mortgage payment for forever already!

  6. Andy Hough says:

    I am rarely envious of others. There are others who may have ‘better” lives than me, but I am pretty happy with my life. Although I still want to improve it.

  7. Michelle says:

    I’m actually a very jealous person and I feel like I’m always envious. This is something I really need to work on and that I have been working on. Being happy for people and not comparing myself is a much better way to live.

  8. Envy is essential to a consumer-based economy, which is why aspirational marketing is such big business. Even though I feel like I have almost everything I want and need, envy is so strong that it can afflict almost anyone.

  9. Shilpan says:

    You’ve hit the nail on the head, Andy. To me, success means a unique proposition for every human being. You have to have a clear success motto for your own life. It’s good idea to read it before going to bed and after waking up each morning to reinforce what core values are important for your success and happiness. The rest doesn’t matter much!

  10. I would be lying if I didn’t say I wasn’t envious of people who don’t worry about money. I also know that most people who don’t worry are also the people who are spending more than they should.

  11. Daisy says:

    I get envious a lot – haha – and I need to learn to shelf it. I know that I have my own priorities and goals, and my friends that are travelling around the world are sacrificing a lot to do so, and to be honest I wouldn’t want to sacrifice as much to do the same (otherwise I’d be doing it).

  12. AverageJoe says:

    I’ve found that my ability to work well is based on what I do. When I become envious I’m not focused enough on ME and instead on others. Great post. Thanks, Katie!

  13. This is such an excellent set of reminders. Our biggest source of motivation should be internal, not external via envy or jealousy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Disclaimer and Stuff

The articles are written by personal finance enthusiasts (not certified professionals) based on their personal experience. What works for them may or may not work for you, and you should always consult a financial advisor before making important financial decisions.

In accordance with FTC guidelines, we disclose that we have a financial relationship with companies mentioned in this website. This may include receiving access to free products and services for product and service reviews and giveaways.

Any references to third party products, rates, or websites are subject to change without notice. We do our best to maintain current information, but due to the rapidly changing environment, some information may have changed since it was published. Please do the appropriate research before participating in any third party offers.

For additional information, please review our legal disclaimers and privacy policy.