By Mia Casey
We’ve all felt it before – that sick drop at the base of your stomach when you see your friends and colleagues on social media, living the good life, and getting promotions or dream jobs left, right, and centre. Not only are you more than a little jealous of their successes, but you also feel like a horrible person for not being completely over-the-moon excited for them. That’s Career FOMO. And it sucks.
Symptoms of Career FOMO
Career FOMO is the anxiety that comes from seeing people around you succeeding in their careers, when you’re at a point in your own career where you’re feeling unsatisfied or unfulfilled. It’s the fear that you’re not doing enough, are in the wrong field, or are being left behind as everyone else forges on ahead, living their dreams.
Career FOMO has become more pervasive with the rise of social media, as we’re constantly scrolling through our feeds and being presented with images, Tweets, and posts showing the people around us succeeding.
So how can you handle your Career FOMO? Here are our 3 quick tips to get over that unhelpful anxiety, and go back to living your truth (and being a straight-up boss again).
Treatments for Career FOMO
Getting over our social media hang-ups
Social media is one of the lead contributing factors to Career FOMO. For most of us who are on social media daily, being inundated with highly-edited information telling us that the people in our lives are doing amazingly well for themselves, can be a little damaging to our own self-esteem. That doesn’t mean that we’re not happy when others do well, but social media helps any seed of self-doubt to grow. And unfortunately, as everyone’s career progression is unique and can’t be predicted or entirely planned for, there is often at least some self-doubt as to whether we’re on the right track.
So how do we move beyond this? Well, it’s time to get real about what social media is. Social media is a place for you to commemorate the highlights of your life, post your best selfies (because heaven knows, we’ve all got some doozies on our phones that we’d never make public), and share your achievements. It’s not usually a place for you to be real about what’s going on in your life, share your doubts, or post photos of you looking disheartened (unless it’s for purely aesthetic purposes). So, if you wouldn’t normally post your issues across your social media accounts, then why would anyone else? And by not posting them, does that mean that they aren’t there? No!
Everyone has down days, feels self-doubt, worries that they’re making the wrong decisions, or questions whether they’re leading a successful life. But because none of this is shown on social media, it makes us feel isolated, as though we’re the only ones feeling this way. So rather than giving into that niggling sense of doubt that Career FOMO inspires, it’s time to shake yourself off, be real about what you’re actually looking at, and remember that you’re not alone.
Engage in some positive self-talk
It’s easy for us to fall into a funk when feeling unsure about ourselves or our careers, especially when comparing our success to others’. However, it’s important to take a step back and remember our own achievements in times of stress.
When we feel dissatisfied with where we’re at in life, often times we look to what the other people around us are doing and feel like we’re being left behind. What we don’t often do, is reflect on our own journey that has lead us to this point. We ignore the challenges we overcame, opportunities we took, or successes we achieved, and focus solely on whatever issues are holding us back at the moment.
So take a deep breath, and remember everything you’ve been through up until this point. Forget about what your friends or colleagues are doing, and just thinking about your path. Once you can remove the expectations you create for yourself, based on the achievements of those around you, then you can start thinking more positively. If you can recognise your own successes and still feel dissatisfied with your current place on your career trajectory, then it’s time to start thinking about looking towards the next step. Whether that’s looking for a new job, a change of field, or developing new skills – make sure you’re doing it to make you happy, and not to escape Career FOMO.
Career FOMO hits us all in different ways, but sometimes it can make you question whether you’re even in the right field of work. I mean, if you studied marketing at uni then went straight into a graduate marketing role, how would you know whether your passion for fine arts could have led to an even more fulfilling career? If you’ve never even thought about exploring other fields, then it’s not surprising that the great, big possibility of the ‘unknown’ can hold such appeal.
Luckily, there are a few pretty straight forward things you could do to overcome this. First, you could start a side hustle (or even just a small side project) to try out a new field. If you’re in business, but want to be a creative writer then try taking part in something like NaNoWriMo, join an online writing community, or even just dedicate some time each week to write something for fun. Or maybe you’re a science student with a flair for design – start playing around with it! Start a design blog, do some online courses (Lynda.com is free for UTS students y’all), or have a chat with people in the design world and see what got them started.
Experimenting in a new field doesn’t have to be scary, it can literally be like picking up a hobby. Even just engaging in new activities outside of the norm can be a huge help in tackling that Career FOMO and feeling productive again – so don’t stress, and start thinking outside of the box.
So remember, while that dreaded Career FOMO can hit hard sometimes, that doesn’t mean you’re failing in your career. You’re still a total boss. Just focus on your own path, do what makes you happy, and channel that nervous energy into being productive in ways that benefit you, and not the unrealistic expectations you may put on yourself. To put it in simpler terms: you do you.
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash.