I didn't realized my feelings had a name until reading your article. I sometimes get overwhelmed or even anxious by the feeling. What tips do you have for people who feel that way outside of work?
FOMO. It stands for Fear of Missing Out, and it’s starting to be a real epidemic among young professionals.
For some of us, the sentiment is based in reality: there are attainable jobs out there that might make us happier, pay us more, and be a better fit. But for many, thinking about the “what ifs” can seriously interfere with being happy where we are—we cast doubt on ourselves, even though our current job actually is a pretty good fit.
A year and a half ago, I was quite happy in my consulting job. I loved the people I worked with and I was doing well. And yet, there was a little bit of lingering doubt in my mind as to whether or not I wanted to be in it for the long haul. Not having had many jobs before this one, there were so many unknowns—it was hard to know.
So I decided to quell the feeling once and for all, and set out to find out what else, if anything, I would prefer to be doing.
I started by browsing my alma mater’s alumni directory. I searched by location, by industry, by similar background to mine, and slowly but surely discovered people who had jobs that sounded cool. I then did the same with my personal network on LinkedIn. I reached out to each of the cool job holders individually with a succinct message, asking for 20 minutes of their time. I was, I explained, contemplating a career shift and wondered if their field could be for me.
Over two thirds of those people got back to me (hint: the key is to send a short email and ask very little time from them) and I ended up speaking to over a dozen people with very different jobs over a two week period, including a brand manager for Pepsi and a special projects manager for the City of New York.
I quickly learned that sexy sounding jobs are often way less sexy once you’re doing them. For example, after hearing all about how hard it was to get approval to change from one shade of red to another very similar shade of red, I crossed brand management off my list. I like being able to get things done quickly, and I knew an environment like that would drive me crazy.
Little by little I learned more about the day to day work in many different companies and industries—and came to the resounding conclusion that I actually did prefer my current job over all the ones I’d heard about.
Yes, it took some time, but the informational interviews lifted a weight off my shoulders—a weight I hadn’t even fully realized was there. With my FOMO gone, I was free to focus on the great things about my current job and enjoy it—and stay there, until life surprised me and my career took an entrepreneurial turn.
Check out more from Job Search Month at The Daily Muse