The fear of a better offer plagues the majority of working Americans
Employees are in search of the next best thing.
The fear of missing out, colloquially known as FOMO, started out as a way for millennials to convey their anxiety about missing out. The acronym has since spawned to include FOJI, the fear of joining in, JOMO, the joy of missing out and now FOBO, the fear of better options.
According to a report from LinkedIn released Monday, FOBO is one of the top workplace challenges people face today, with 68% of workers admitting they fear there may be better options beyond their current roles. And the survey revealed that the number one regret people have when it comes to their careers is not trying harder to get their dream job.
Some of this is normal: “There should be a healthy dose or a healthy amount of ‘there could be a better job out there for me’ kind of thinking because you never want to be complacent or have tunnel vision,” Vicki Salemi, career expert at Monster, told Moneyish. But a lot of it is not: If you get a new job and a few weeks or months later you’re already looking for an exit — you might have a bigger problem on your hands, experts say.
When is FOBO most likely to occur? The survey revealed that 30% of people say they feel it after being at their company for a long period of time, while 28% say they experience it when seeking a work-life balance. After receiving a job offer, 23% of people say they suffer from it and 21% relate when negotiating their salary.
One big problem is that FOBO can lead to anxiety, which already runs rampant in the workplace. According to a survey conducted by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 56% of of employees say stress and anxiety impact their workplace performance and 51% say it affects the relationship they have with their coworkers and peers.
Peter Houghton, a 48 year-old senior real estate executive in Los Angeles, told Moneyish that when he hit the five-year mark at his last company he got a bad case of FOBO. “My biggest challenge was loyalty. I liked the people I was working with and they were paying me well, but I had a feeling the company was going downhill and I ultimately decided to pursue something that was more personally meaningful and that I felt passionate about,” said Houghton. He’s now an impact investor focused on urban real estate.
Sometimes it’s smart to make a move like Houghton did, but other times FOBO can lead you astray. Here are six things you can do to ensure FOBO doesn’t ruin their career.
Define your big picture and what success looks like to you.
You’ll get less confused and anxious about the day-to-day-opportunities and setbacks if you take time to think through and define your professional purpose and what impact you want to make in the long-term, says Nicole Wood, CEO and founder at Ama la Vida Coaching.
Make the most of where you are.
Even if you find yourself in a role that doesn’t serve your long-term vision and isn’t enjoyable, there’s always something to be gained. “Make it a point to build relationships with people you admire or can learn from and take advantage of free resources and training opportunities,” says Wood.
Bring your passions to work.
Ask yourself what brings you energy throughout the day and take note of what you find yourself doing when you procrastinate. Wood says, “It’s important that you are also enjoying your work while you’re working toward your goals.If you’re constantly moving up but are miserable along the way, you may look back and realize the ends weren’t worth the means.”
Start a gratitude practice.
Listing three things that you’re grateful for at the end of each day — such as the coffee you had that morning or the interesting lunch you learned something from — can help bring a new level of satisfaction to you and your work.
Be intentional about what you sign up for.
Going above and beyond at work can help you get ahead and noticed by senior leadership, but if you say yes to everything, you’ll find yourself doing things you don’t enjoy and you won’t have enough time for the things you do enjoy. “Lean into and leverage your internal resources, hone and polish skills in your current job and sign up for classes either internally or online to help prepare yourself for your next move,” says Salemi.
Know when to leave your current job and when to stay.
Salemi says she’s a big believer in there being another job out there, but she says first you have to make sure you’re properly equipped to move on. “You need to lean into and leverage your internal resources and hone and polish skills in your current job because sometimes you’re not ready for the next move yet,” said Salemi. And CNBC recently suggested it’s time to jump ship if you’re not learning, your commute is long, your pay is too low, you don’t like your colleagues, your work is boring or your coworkers are fleeing.
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