I listen to a lot of podcasts. I subscribe to 25 different ones, and spend anywhere from 10 to 15 hours listening to them each week. My tastes range from Political (NPR Politics Podcast and FiveThirtyEight) all the way to the absurd (Judge John Hodgman and My Dad Wrote a Porno). I like having something on in the background while I work. And I especially love the constant stream of inspiration and different ideas.
A recent episode of Planet Money “I'm So Happy For You!” was about something called a Jealousy List. This was started by Bloomberg Businessweek as an annual list all the stories they wish they had written or thought of.
The Planet Money Jealousy List has everything from the obituaries in the Economist to a man who writes about the history of Ranch dressing (it was in fact invented by a cowboy). And it started me thinking about professional jealousy.
We’ve all had that moment when we find something new and say to ourselves “Why didn’t I think of that?!” Most people would probably say that this kind of jealousy is not a good thing, but what if sometimes we need that envy? Have you ever done something just because someone else did? Okay, of course you have. Have you done it this week? That feeling of envy is ubiquitous; the want to be better than others, or one person in particular, can be what drives us to achieve more.
Spending time thinking about what we wish we’d done isn’t a waste of time and energy because it can tell us if what we’re creating is fulfilling us. By contemplating the kind of things we wish we had created, we can look at how in the future to better spend our energy. If you find staring at a sculpture, you wish you had made when you spent the whole week doing watercolours, then maybe you know what you would rather have been doing.
Of course,these kinds of thoughts should be pursued in moderation. If you spend all your time only thinking about what others have done, you’ll never create anything yourself.
So, my challenge for you this week is to create a jealousy list. Whatever your field or discipline, spend 10 minutes listing three to four things you wish you had created in the last year. Enjoy looking through other people’s creations, and I hope it brings you inspiration for something you can create yourself.