student life blog

The Fear of Missing Out, or FOMO, is a big motivator for many of us who live most of our lives on social media. We worry constantly that we’re missing something vital with every party or event we choose not to attend. We worry that we’re missing out because we don’t have that shirt or those shoes or that vacation. But FOMO doesn’t just apply to our social lives. These days, many of us make career decisions based not on what we think our next move should be but on what we’re afraid we might miss. Making quick decisions based on this fear can hold you back at work and even do real damage to your career. Here’s why you should forget about missing out and concentrate on planning your career path instead.

Being worried about missing out can make you look unprofessional.
When FOMO is your biggest motivator, you’re going to make decisions based on that. This means you may jump from job to job because you’re constantly searching for something better. While there is absolutely no shame in searching the right fit for you, when you jump aimlessly from career to career and company to company in short periods of time you look feckless and difficult to please. When you submit your resume to job openings and hiring managers see you’ve changed companies five times in three years… they’re going to be hesitant about offering you a job when it seems like you’re just going to leave them too. Instead of being worried about missing opportunities in the big, wide workforce, look for opportunities in your current company. Is there a committee you can join? A volunteer activity? The more you participate, the more comfortable you’ll get and the more likely it is that you’ll finally find the right place for you!

Pushing yourself into work cliques because you want people to know your name can damage your reputation.
Okay, so we all know that, even as adults, we tend to make cliques and join cliques. The workforce/office is pretty much like that high school from Mean Girls, but with a bit more tact (sometimes). And, social beings that we are (even you, introvert!), we want to make friends and have someone to eat lunch with. But forcing yourself to “sit with the cool kids” isn’t going to help you get a promotion or a great letter in your personnel file. It does make you seem pushy, insecure, and unprofessional. Instead of worrying you’ll miss out if you don’t make the right work pals, take every mom everywhere’s advice and be yourself. In time, you’ll make those work friendships and have someone to sit with at lunch. You’ll also have a genuine relationship with a group of people who can help you move up in your career by being supportive and giving you great advice.

Don’t apply for every single open position that is dropped in your inbox at work.
So this is a tough one for a lot of people to do. This has to do with internal job opportunities, not external emails from Indeed, Monster, or Glassdoor. If you’re unhappy with your current position in your company or want more of a challenge, finding a new position internally is a great way to do something that makes you happy. But, if you’re afraid of missing out on an opportunity and apply to every open position, you’re going to look fickle. Applying to everything shows the hiring managers at your company that you have no direction and just want to leave your current position. Instead, though you may be unsatisfied in your current position or department, carefully consider which openings you submit your resume to. If you’re not sure what direction you want your career to take, shadow some people in other departments to see if their job seems like something you’d like.

It’s hard to squash FOMO when it pops up. You see that person celebrating a successful sale at the office or your best friend from high school started a new job at a Fortune 500 company, and you want to be able to have those things, too. But if you let FOMO or career jealousy make your decisions for you, you’ll never get to where you want to be. Before you decide to quit your job or invite yourself to someone else’s business lunch, take a second to think about why you’re doing this and what motivates you. If you’re just jealous of someone else’s success…well, that’s not a great reason to quit your job. Take stock of your priorities, decide on a goal, refresh your soft skills, and make a plan to get to where you want to be. If you work hard and you’re patient, you’ll get there.