Can jealousy inspire you?

comparison goals Mar 14, 2023

This week as many of my friends head west to Tulsa for the agility National, I can't help but feel a bit jealous. Mind you, I didn't try to qualify, I just wish I were going - haha.

Watching someone else achieve something you also want can trigger all sorts of feelings. Are you wildly happy for your friends? Yes. Do you wish you were going? Also yes.

Jealousy-adjacent is comparison - the thief of joy, as one ex-President put it. Even watching someone finish a novice title can make us start comparing our progress to theirs. "That dog is ahead of mine, and my dog is older!" While it seems petty when written in an email, the feelings are real and valid.

Long ago, I heard someone-smarter-than-me say that jealousy is a clue - it tells you what you want. You may think that's obvious, but it's not always so straightforward.

I might be jealous of someone's new car (and happy for them). But I don't want that car, I really want a tricked-out full-size van for the dogs. In other words, jealousy isn't necessarily a one-for-one; instead, it's a clue to what you actually want.

When I think about friends heading to Tulsa, I don't want to go to Tulsa - it's a clue. What I truly want is an agility dog who is competitive in Masters and has a chance to go to the Invitational. So when jealousy strikes, I've learned to step back and ask myself what exactly makes me feel jealous about this moment. If jealousy is the symptom, what's underneath?

Once we know what the clue reveals, we can look back at our goals. Is this achievement in our goals for this year? If so, are we executing our plan to attain it? That helps to get our eyes back on our own proverbial paper and refocus on our unique journey.

I've learned to let jealousy inspire me instead of discourage me. When someone else achieves something I want to experience, I go inward and ask myself what I need to do to get there. For me, jealousy motivates, while comparing is the fastest way to Bummerville.

Here's another twist: guilt. Sometimes when I am jealous of someone's accomplishment, I realize that I haven't been making progress on my own goals. These clues can reveal that we need to train more, commit to a trial schedule, or get private coaching. For example, I have a LOT of guilt about not finishing Trip's breed championship. He's not the most amazing breed specimen, but the hard truth is I need to prioritize the breed ring - that's on me.

So from now on, I want you to look at your jealous moments as clues and be willing to look at what those clues reveal. And if you find comparison, you need to refocus your attention on your dog and their unique journey.

It's hard - I truly get it! But comparing and measuring and being jealous of others doesn't get us closer to our long list of goals - it's just not productive. Use all that angst and energy to formulate an inspired plan to achieve your own jealousy-inducing achievements!

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