How many times have you caught yourself clicking through the Facebook profile pictures of a “friend” (whom you’ve never met) at 1:37 a.m., and getting at least a teeny bit jealous because they seem to be living a much more exciting life than you, full of better looking people and more money?
And they’re always on vacation. Dear God! Why are all their pictures from vacations?
Who’s giving out these cruises????
Seeing this type of stuff used to bother me for three reasons:
First, I felt like I was “behind” for my age. At 24, I had close friends who were moving up the corporate ladder quickly and making what I thought was big money. Other friends were doing really cool, exciting work getting doctorates or professional degrees.
I didn’t want either of those, but I couldn’t help feeling like a dweeb talking to them sometimes — I even vented about it in an open letter.
When they asked me what I was doing, all I could really tell them was that I was still working at the restaurant and trying to “figure things out.”
Second, I felt like nobody had my back. I knew I wanted to start my own business(es), but I didn’t have any mentors to give me solid advice or a step-by-step action plan. I didn’t have anybody close to me who knew the ropes and could help me if I fell down. I wanted someone to tell me “do this, then do that.”
Unlike the corporate world or graduate school, there are really no guidelines or “best practices” for entrepreneurship. You pretty much have to figure it out yourself. That’s why it’s so scary.
Third and last, I felt like I was in a vacuum. I was really the only person I knew in “real life” who wanted to be an entrepreneur. All the people at the places I worked at…they just wanted to clock in….day after day.
I wanted to meet other people like me. People who were driven to get more from their lives and really wanted to create something new.
People I could bounce ideas off of and wouldn’t make me feel “weird” for wanting to brainstorm or talk about personal development. I always knew that if I was able to fill my entire life with the type of people that I wanted to be like, success was pretty much guaranteed.
Here is how I got over the jealousy. For the past four years, I’ve hustled to connect with other entrepreneurs who are doing amazing work. I’ve gone out of my way to build mentorship relationships with startup founders, millionaires and high-performers in all fields.
Because I was sick of feeling jealous of people who are doing well. I realized that if I wanted to become one of them, I had to do whatever it took to get into their peer group.
And I did. But It definitely didn’t happen overnight. There’s a process you have to learn when approaching successful people. (Here’s the exact strategy I’ve used to develop authentic relationships with influencers.) But I worked at it, and when I was finally able to cultivate a sizable community of super-high-value people around me, I noticed something incredible: it was almost impossible to fail.
If I had a question, doubt or fear, there was an established community of people around me who actually wanted to help me. If I didn’t know which way to turn, there was a mentor on speed dial for almost any problem I encountered.
Above everything else, there was a new level of expectation put on me by those I had surrounded myself with. They just expected me to be doing well, and I didn’t want to let them down. Turns out I had the makings of an entrepreneur in me all along.
Building that community of friends and mentors was the ultimate tool to kick my progress into warp speed, and probably the biggest reason I was able to move from a day job to self-employment so quickly.
This piece originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com.
For more on success, watch this Fortune video:
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Richard Branson’s Guide to Finding a Mentor
Here’s Why Your Envy-Inducing Facebook Feed Is All Just a Big Fat Lie (Video)