FOMO? What is that?
And How Can It Impact Your Career
By Karin Eldor
You know that feeling.
You’re surfing Facebook on your lunch break when you spot the following status update posted by a former classmate: “Moving to New York City to work at [insert Fortune 500 company here]. So excited about this new chapter!!!” Three hundred and sixty “likes” later, and you’re left sweating, heart racing, and mind swirling with questions about your current job and career path.
Are these pangs of jealousy? Anxiety? Actually, both.
Sounds like your typical case of FOMO, which stands for a "fear of missing out." This anxiety stems from the fear of missing out on something more interesting, exciting or jealousy-inducing than what we’re currently doing. It can also lead to a compulsive fear of missing the latest trends, news and hot spots. And it can cause unsettling feelings from your social life to your career.
The "fear of missing out" has always existed; it just never had a name before being hash tagged by social media users and then inducted in the Oxford Dictionary in 2013.
How can #FOMO be detrimental to your career? Let us count the ways; I wouldn't want you to miss out...
1. It can make you overwhelmed
Being bombarded by a flurry of social media images, status updates and tweets can take a toll on anyone. Seeing all the “status worthy” posts of friends and even strangers in your network can make it harder for you to focus on your own daily tasks. FOMO and all the anxiety-ridden questions it produces (i.e. Am I in the right job? Did I follow the right path? Why am I not living the dream in some corner office in some glamorous city]?) serve as daily distractions that make it impossible to hone in on your bottom line: doing a stellar job in your current role.
To treat your FOMO… Unplug
If possible, schedule and limit your social media intake to once or twice per day (perhaps once in the morning and once at night if you don’t rely on it for work). Keep your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts closed throughout the day so that you're not lured in by the bleeps of notifications. This will also do wonders in boosting your overall daytime productivity!
2. It can make you dissatisfied / demotivated
It’s easy to get caught up in all the amazing things people around you are doing career-wise and comparing yourself to them, especially since social media is a wonderful platform to broadcast and project a crafted image of oneself. The danger is getting caught up in this “grass is greener” syndrome and allowing it to get you down. Remember: things aren’t always as they seem.
To treat your FOMO… Create a vision board
Visualizing where you want to go in your own career can help you focus and keep your eyes on the prize. Create a physical board in your office or even a virtual one on Pinterest, and add any images, quotes or articles that inspire you and summarize your own goals. It’s easy to get sidetracked by the success and goals of others, which is why it’s important to remind yourself exactly where you want to go. If you see it and seek it, it will come!
3. It can make you insecure
Whether you’re getting your daily dose of FOMO from the social media networks you surf or from your coworkers, that nagging feeling that you’re being left out of a department lunch, meeting or project can make you question your skills and likeability. And no one wants to feel insecure at the office. You might start to ask yourself questions like “Do my colleagues like me?” or “Why did the manager exclude me from the Miller account?”
To treat your FOMO… Take initiative
Ask yourself: do you spend most of your workday isolating yourself at your desk while your teammates head out for lunch? Or have you been complaining about your workload lately? Perhaps you’re giving off the impression that you’re too busy to take lunch or take on a new project. Whatever the case, give your coworkers the benefit of the doubt and take initiative by asking your colleagues to go for lunch or making small talk. And if the “cool” project you want to get in on appeals to you, maybe you can vocalize your interest to your manager and let him or her know you’d love to get involved in those types of projects in the future. (Just make sure you’re on top of your current workload before asking to take on more tasks!)
4. It can make you distracted
According to Mashable, 56% of social media users are afraid of missing something such as an event, news (or) important status update if they don’t keep an eye on their social networks. The trouble is, trying to keep up with all the news out there can become a daunting task – not to mention that it’ll keep you chasing something ever changing… far from an effective way to manage your time at work.
To treat your FOMO… Bookmark your articles
Next time you stumble on interesting online news or articles, bookmark or “pin” them for when you have 5 minutes of downtime (while on hold on the phone, for example). Or better yet, schedule yourself specific times to read, such as during your commute to work or while drinking your morning coffee, and catch up on your virtual reading list.
5. It can drive you to want more
There’s nothing like the success of others to give you that extra push to question your current role and reassess where you want to be. You might love your job, but if your fear of missing out is happening on a regular basis, it could be time to ask yourself if you’re missing out on new opportunities or are no longer stimulated by your current job.
To treat your FOMO… Think of it as “Forever Open Minded to Opportunities”
Embark on an exploratory job hunt by browsing the boards right here on Monster.ca. Seeing what’s out there and keeping your fingers on the pulse of new opportunities can leave you feeling refreshed and motivated.
Stay Calm & Carry On
At the end of the day, social media is not going anywhere and you can’t completely avoid it, but you can learn to quell and manage your own fear of missing out. It’s up to you to filter it, breathe, and recognize your own achievements.