Are You Afraid Of Missing Out?

The Fear of Missing Out – FOMO – is a growing social anxiety that’s blighting  personal lives and work choices. According to careers expert and the author of ‘How to Get a Job You Love’, John Lees, this anxiety is often misplaced and can be eased by learning to distinguish the real career roadblocks from unrealistic expectations.

Here are John’s ten signs of work-related FOMO and what you can do about them:

1. Believing you’re the only one without a coherent long-term career plan.

Reality: Most people don’t actually have a viable long-term plan and some of the best careers are built by responding to opportunities and looking ahead at the next 12-18 months, not snap decisions.

2. Believing the grass is greener and that by changing career you’d be more satisfied.

Reality: Many people change jobs because they like the idea of it, not because they’ve really researched or understand what new opportunities have to offer. It’s unrealistic to expect to love your job 100% of the time; 70% is a more realistic target. If you’re serious about changing career, you’ll need to fully research what the new job is really like, not just your idealised version. Switching career paths can be rewarding, but you need to put in the hard graft too.

3. Feeling you made the wrong choices in study/qualification and wishing you’d started your journey somewhere different.

Reality: What sparks this thought? Friends with apparently more glamorous jobs? They might not tell you about the boring bits! Living in regret is far less productive than focusing on what you can do, or change, with the skills and experience available to you.

4. Regretting that you’ve spent the first years of your career dotting about and travelling rather than gaining solid work experience.

Reality: If you can make the early part of your career sound like an interesting challenge, which taught you useful skills, you can make it work for you rather than against you – remember many people actually regret they didn’t travel more when they were younger and had fewer responsibilities.

5. Worrying that you should be working in a bigger organisation with better training and more opportunities.

Reality: This may be an idealised view of what large organisations can offer, but it’s also easy to be ignored and to remain stuck in a rut for a long time. Good career planning often means thinking hard about what kind of role and organisation will teach you the most and make a positive impact on your CV.

6. Worrying that you should be working in a smaller organisation so you will gain a broader range of skills.

Reality: Again, this ignores the potential downside – you may get little formal training and have few opportunities for promotion.

7. Having a sneaky feeling that all your friends are paid more than you.

Reality: Is this based on a hunch or reality? People may ‘live the lifestyle’ but can they actually afford it? All too often, those social media updates present only the ‘best’ side of people’s lives, not how they are really going to pay for that latest gadget. But if they really are paid more than you, does it matter? Many people would happily take a modest pay cut to be in more rewarding work, or to have an easier commute.

8. Assuming that everyone who qualified in the same year as you has done better.

Reality: If this is true, it’s worth checking any balancing factors – are they enjoying work as much as you? What are the costs in terms of life/work balance of taking on those higher status roles? They may envy your greater freedom.

9. Always regretting the conversation or event you missed, rather than planning the next connection you can make.

Reality: Regret of this kind means all your energy goes into beating yourself up for what you didn’t do, rather than creatively thinking about what you could try next using a different approach.

10. Believing that self-employment will always make your working day more balanced, and feel more worthwhile.

Reality: Working for yourself can provide more freedom and flexibility, but it also means unpaid holidays, late payments and isolation. Think through how you would really cope with isolation, drumming up new business and self-discipline first. If you still think you’re up for it then start working out the practicalities.

Comments are closed.