Career envy: we’ve all had it, but have we all overcome it?

As someone who battled with this for many years, I can confidently tell you that this type of envy is not something that is easily treated, nor is it easy to identify. You become this person who ends up being a shell of who you “once were”; you wake up one morning and find yourself at the bottom of some deep dark hole and you don’t know how you ended up there…

Let me back up a few years and give you a better understanding of how I ended up where I am today… When I was in high school, my parents encouraged me to pursue whatever career I wanted, but in their experience and very strong opinion, a “useful degree in business” was best.

They wanted me to get a degree that could immediately land me a job (ideally a good-paying job) and they knew I was smart enough to excel in Accounting. After all “…every business needs an Accountant!” (I can still hear my dad’s voice repeating this…). I gritted my teeth through Calculus I and Calculus II, Advanced Accounting, Business Law and — aside from the inevitable satisfaction of getting a good grade and overcoming adversity – I hated every minute.

Regardless of feeling deflated and confused, I continued to do what every new Accounting University grad did – started my first real job with a large, international Accounting firm. After all… it’ll be good to have this on my resume, right?

Two and half years pass, countless hours of overtime were clocked and I still had no idea what I was doing. I was miserable and jealous of my friends who had careers that they loved (at least appeared to). They were able to leave their office when the sun was still shining and fun was still to be had; meanwhile, every morning I found myself devising ways I could get out of work… (Side note: the best idea I came up with, but never actually executed, was driving into oncoming traffic and breaking both of my arms. This was to ensure I couldn’t type. I saw the firm make people with one broken arm come into work and type with their other hand… this wasn’t for me).  I kept telling myself that things will get better, and once I finish my Masters in Professional Accounting (MPAcc) and write the UFE things will be different…  

For those of you that don’t know me – I wrote the 2013 UFE and was unsuccessful and didn’t pass. I was devastated. This was one of the most deflating and embarrassing times in my life. Historically, those that don’t pass the UFE pick themselves up and rewrite it the next year. You don’t just quit. You can’t. The firm brainwashes you that once you get your CA designation, your world and life will change forever.

Failing an exam that took over two years to prepare and study for was the best thing to ever happen to me. I know why I didn’t pass. I didn’t pass that exam because I wasn’t committed to it. I didn’t love what I was doing and I didn’t want anything to do with accounting. Don’t get me wrong – I wanted to be successful and pass and I was heartbroken when I got the results.  I put in countless hours, tears and sweat to prepare for this 13 hour exam, but I always knew my heart wasn’t in it…

This was my lightbulb moment and what I needed to make the change I had always wanted. The career envy I had for the last couple years was about to be put to an end. I WANT A CAREER THAT I LOVED!

Without getting long winded and overly sappy, I am almost two and a half years into a career that I love. I am challenged, have grown as a person and am constantly learning from my co-workers. I get out of bed every morning excited about what the day holds. I am a new person.

As a professional recruiter, I meet candidates everyday looking for a new job. The motive behind their search is different – lack of career growth, compensation, stability, etc.…But every so often, my candidates will be dissatisfied in their career and the path that they chose. They want a complete change and overhaul but are too scared to make the change and don’t even know where to start… They feel it’s too late to change their profession and everything they’ve learnt along the way will be wasted (education, etc.).

The best advice I can give is just take the plunge. No one is going to make the decision for you; you’re the only person that controls where you decide to go every single day for at least 8 hours… 

Career envy is like entree envy – you read the menu, you pick your order, but as soon as the food comes, you want whatever your partner is having. It’s not that your entree isn’t also delicious, but when you actually got to see the two steaming in front of you side-by-side on the table, there’s this sinking feeling you can’t shake that you made the wrong choice. Maybe this sounds like a “grass is greener” feeling, but I think there’s more to it… It’s up to you to figure out what exactly is missing and what you’re “wishing you had”, but it’s never too late to pause, reflect on what makes you happy, and make the necessary changes. If you believe in what you do, you will be successful.

Don’t let career envy continue to be a part of your daily life, it’s not worth it!

A blog by our: Bronwyn Shaw, MPAcc

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