Do You Suffer from Career FOMO?

By Siew Ching

Feel like you’re not quite where you are in your career when you compare yourself with your friends? That’s Career FOMO 101.

Let’s face it – we all experience some form of FOMO – the “fear of missing out” – at some point in our lives. Blame it on social media where everyone’s posting everything they are doing, from checking out the latest omakase in town to glorious overseas travels. And here you are, sitting at home in your PJs just flicking through Netflix on a Friday night.

Then there is the Career FOMO, where you feel that you’re not quite where you should be in your career in comparison to your colleagues and friends who are enjoying more success than you. Doesn’t help that they are posting on social media their latest career wins… while you’re still struggling with trying to make a good impression at work!

If you look on the positive side, Career FOMO can be beneficial – it makes you want to work harder so you can achieve the same. But is this necessarily a good thing? Are you pushing yourself just so that you have the same bragging rights, and not because you sincerely want to achieve your career milestones.

There is a huge con when it comes to pushing yourself through your Career FOMO – you run the risk of anxiety, being overwhelmed by the stress of needing to achieve it all, and worst, when you don’t pull it off, your confidence takes a beating, and you feel even more disappointment. And that’s just all the mental wellness bit! Career FOMO can also affect you physically as you might be tempted to overwork, not take time off when you need it, and disrupt your work-life balance just so you can level up to all those career milestones you see on social media! It’s ironic – while trying to be better, your work takes a beating when you’re not 100% physically or mentally.

Luckily, it’s not all bad news. If you struggle with Career FOMO, there are some things you can do to tackle it. For starters, you should know that people on social media mainly post about positive experiences so you don’t get the full picture. Your friend who is the department head and has a luxury car? She probably doesn’t have time to enjoy her BMW because she’s always stuck at work! Or that colleague who seems to be lapping it up with the bosses because of his impressive track record? He goes into work stressed out every day trying to figure out how he’s going to keep it up all the time.

The key with FOMO is this – it’s a fear. And what we know about fear is that we should never give in to it. Instead, you should work around this fear and make it work for you. Here are some tips:

#1 Focus on the positives of where you are now in your career
If you really take a good look at your career, you’ll realise you’re not in that bad of a place. Focus on the good and see how else you can make it better. Your career progression or milestones should be based on your own expectations, not what social media tells you.

#2 Stop using social media as a guide
Look, social media isn’t 100% reliable – we all know that. The truth is, there’s no real truth on social media. But if you find yourself sucked into what others are achieving through their reels and posts, then it’s time for a reality check: Take a break from scrolling. Life is not a competition and social media isn’t the judge of how well you are doing. Instead of agonising over what you’re not achieving because so and so just posted about her brand new office space, focus on your own ideas of what success is and how you can achieve that on your own terms.

#3 Create a career map
We said it before though – not everything is bad about Career FOMO. Turn that fear into something positive! If you feel like your career isn’t heading in the right direction because of what your friends and colleagues are achieving, why not make it a motivation to do better? Create a career map and jot down where you are currently in your progression and what you eventually want to achieve. Analyse your situation and determine if you’re on the right path. If you’re not, then work out how you can get from A to B to C and finally to WIN!

#4 Make a solid plan
Sometimes, it’s all about knowing what you want and asking for it. If you feel like you’ve earned that promotion, don’t wait for your boss to give it to you. Schedule in a discussion and ask for feedback on how you can do better for that promotion. The key is to have a solid plan, and not just wallow in self-pity that you’re not achieving your career milestones.

#5 Repeat after us: Life is too short!
Do you really want to spend all your time feeling bummed because of Career FOMO? Wouldn’t you rather spend that time with friends, family, or even in me-time instead of worrying why you’re not doing better? At the end of the day, life is too short to feel left out. Living in a state of perpetual “I wished I had that promotion/job/opportunity isn’t productive. Letting Career FOMO consume you isn’t going to ensure you’re going to hit your career milestones anytime soon. What you need to do is focus on yourself and what it is that makes you feel fulfilled. For some people, it might not even be a bigger car or office space – it might just be something as simple as having a good job with work-life balance! Sometimes, we’re too hard on ourselves so go easy – you might be already doing better than you think!

Do you suffer from Career FOMO? Tell us all about it and how you managed to get yourself out of that situation @Graduan.

Photo by Tonik on Unsplash.

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