How To Use Envy As A Tool (Yes, For Real)

How can you use envy as a tool? If you're looking for motivation tips or productivity advice, you might find it in envy. Read on to learn more! #motivation #selfhelp #growthmindset #inspiring #motivation #motivational #personaldevelopment #getoutofyourcomfortzone #styleyourlife


I’m scrolling through Instagram as I wait for my coffee to brew when I’m hit by a wave of envy – mouth twisting, eye-narrowing, I-should-click-away envy.

I stare at my screen, fantasizing about the day I can do what this woman does. I feel weak just imagining it. I give myself over to daydreaming about what life would be like if I could do this, too.

What was it that filled me with envy, that morning as I stood in my kitchen?

It was my friend’s Instagram bio. 

“Founder of ______. Dog mom, cheese-eater, carry-on only traveler.” And then her IG feed was fun random photos of her dog and her vacations! No carefully curated, on-brand photos. No push to watch her webinar. No sales pitches. No ‘calls to action.’

She just shared photos of stuff she liked and that was it. CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE????

And until that moment, I hadn’t even realized that was something I wanted – to ‘just’ be a business owner, without the pressure of selling and strategizing and monetizing and sharing everything, ever.

(I’m working on it.)

And this epiphany was brought to you by envy – an emotion that gets a bad rap and we all try to avoid. We view envy as weakness or insecurity or a character flaw.
What if we used our envy to learn more about ourselves, what we really want, and what’s possible? Share on X

View Envy as an educator

One of the most common things I hear from students and clients is “I don’t know how to get what I want because I, uh, don’t know what I want.”

To which I say “Good news! One of the fastest ways to figure out what you want is to look at who + what makes you feel envious.” (If you need help figuring out what makes you happy, this free workbook will help!)

For example, I have a friend who owns a gorgeous apartment in a doormanned building in Manhattan. Not envious.

I have another friend who lives in Tulum, has a double-take worthy body and an Instagram following of 95k. 100% not envious.

But my friend who runs a successful company without being on ANY social media? So envious I could weep.

The friends who bought a house on the water, in a Minneapolis suburb, for less than $300,000? Teeth-gnashing envy.

So what does this tell me? It tells me that I want to step away from social media and live on the water. I want to get a good deal on a house. I don’t want to live on the beach or wear my swimsuit all day, every day. I never need to live in NYC.

These might strike you as rather obvious epiphanies, but until I examined my envy, I didn’t realize these things about myself. 

I could very easily have spent years chasing an apartment-in-New York dream or a live-on-the-beach-in-Mexico dream. But when I noticed that my friends had those very things and I didn’t particularly care, I gained insight into the things I truly want.

View Envy as evidence of what’s possible

When we see something that makes us green with envy, it’s easy to think “They got it now I’ll never have it I HATE EVERYTHING.”

What if we viewed envy – and the things that make us feel envious – as evidence of what’s possible?

The fact that Alex can run a very successful writing business from a small town in Hawaii, while being on zero social media platforms is evidence that such a thing is possible. Finding clients, working from a far off time zone, without a funnel or webinars or optimized blog posts? It can be done!

My friends found a house with great bones, at the end of a cul de sac, overlooking a lake, in a first-ring suburb of Minneapolis for $270,000? Sure, they got lucky and they’ve done some work on said house but the fact that such a house was even on the market? Makes me hopeful we can find our dream house. 

Instead of “they have something I want and now I can’t have it” we can view someone else’s success as “they have something I want and now I know that someday I can have it, too.” Share on X

I’d love to hear about your relationship with envy! Do you struggle with it? Resist it? Use it to figure out what you want!

Welcome to Yes & Yes!

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  1. Katie

    The thing is, I’m not envious of other people’s accomplishments. I’m envious of their relationships and families- and I DON’T know that I can ever have that. Long-term singledom is miserable, and now that I’m getting older, I have serious worries about my fertility. It drives me absolutely bonkers when people complain about the normal annoyances of a loving marriage (yes, I KNOW you’re not happy all the time!) or kids (yes, I KNOW kids often drive you crazy!). I’d give anything to have those problems.

    • Lindsey

      I needed to see this today. Thank you for sharing, Katie, and I hope you meet someone soon. I’m definitely feeling overwhelmed by the long marriage and kids and I’ll admit that being single and going on dates and having all my free time to put toward my podcast, blog and writing sounds completely awesome. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I guess it’s really easy to focus on what we don’t have, isn’t it?

  2. heidi

    Thank you for this post. I feel like I can be so overwhelmed with envy, I try to just avoid social media at all costs. This post really helps me find a productive way to channel that envy.

    Also, lol, same: re your friend you owns a successful business without social media. I love Alex Franzen!

  3. Melissa

    Many, many moons ago in college I wrote a paper on jealousy versus envy. How they were not the same and that you could make envy work for you by using it as a motivator. It was something I had mostly forgotten about, your reminder comes at a good time. I am currently trying to figure out what direction to take the next season of my life & the envy factor will be a good place to look.

  4. Halina

    I loved this post! What a revelation – that I can use envy to discover what it is I really want.

    My friends with kids? Not envious.

    A friend’s daughter glamming it up in Dubai, looking fabulous in a bikini on a yacht drinking something with an umbrella? Not envious.

    My friend who just got a great paying job in her new field, living in the burbs of a major city? Not envious.

    I’m happy for every one of them and I hope they’re living their best lives, but I don’t want what they have.

    Reading new authors on Medium that make my insides mushy from emotion? Envious!

    Seeing successful bloggers like you? So! Envious!!

    Watching my favorite sailing vloggers? Ugh.. En! Vi! Ous!!

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Well, I’m pretty envious that you live on a boat! We’ve been wanting to do a houseboat Airbnb for ages so we can test out if it’d be a real possibility for us!

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