I want your job – or do I?

17-022412-why_you_should_be_following_dj_khaled_on_snapchatAmy Grier says that FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out, applies to work too.  She describes the gut wrenching feeling that she used to experience in her teens and twenties about missing out on a really good party.  She says that this now surfaces, in her thirties, when she reads about her friends’ new start-ups, industry awards or promotions.

In a recent survey that Lightspeed GMI Research conducted for my upcoming book (The Glass Wall, Success Strategies for Women at Work written with Kathryn Jacob, published by Profile this autumn) we asked people across the USA, UK and Russia a series of questions about their careers.  One of them was about career choice.  The full results of the survey will be published with the book but let’s just say that I was surprised at the level of discontent that people are currently feeling about their career choices, across country, across gender and across paygrade.

As Grier points out, this can be seen to be fuelled by LinkedIn.  Every time we link in to the site it asks us if we want to congratulate someone on their new job.  As one connection of mine pointed out, this does happen quite a lot even if you don’t change jobs, as a minor tweak to your title, perhaps a re-expression from director of important stuff to important stuff director, prompts the system to seek congratulations all round.

We’re bombarded by opportunities for FOMO all the time now of course as a desultory scroll through social media when waiting for someone to turn up for a coffee, or whilst second screening in front of the telly, will reveal.  A year ago I quoted the key note speaker at a marketing conference who said that they were a bit sick of Facebook because all their friends were always on holiday, smiling, relaxed and happy.  Of course one rarely instagrams oneself looking less than glamorous, interesting or successful.  (Unless you’re DJ Khaled promoting mouthwash as a lifestyle success hack). Just as you’re unlikely to tweet another boring afternoon running through invoice queries to your followers nor are your friends going to do that either.

Are you able to shut out the voices?  Some people seem to manage it.  Perhaps it is all about focus.

Michael Caine, talking recently while plugging his new film Youth, said, with all the wisdom of a long and successful career, that he had never been ambitious for anything. He’d always focussed simply on doing a good job, the best job that he could.  His drive was to be better than he had been the last time, and so the only person he wanted to beat was himself.  “I have no sense of competition, the only competition I have is me.  Get on with it, stop worrying about fame, become the best that you can be”.

Changing jobs, or even changing careers can feel like the only answer when you are in cold January and February and fed up with picking typos out of documents that should have been spell checked.  Remember though that the grass does always seem greener on the other side of the mountain.  Furthermore if you base any career aspirations purely on social media feeds you’re basing your emotional life on how good your contacts are at spinning their lives.  You might as well base your emotional life on how you compare to the models in glossy magazines.  Good luck with it but I don’t think it will be very much fun.

So I don’t think that I do want your job, however great it sounds on social media.  I will focus on being better at mine.


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