Hannah Salton is a Career Consultant at Imperial College Business School, as well as a freelance Career Coach. In this blog she talks about the unusually dubbed – FOMOMG or ‘Fear Of Missing Out on My Goals’.
It seems FOMOMG is particularly prevalent in fellow millennials, who have a tendency to set themselves ambitious life or career goals, and feel frustrated if the milestones aren’t hit. This resonated with me a lot. I am generally a big fan of goal setting, however I’ve also experienced a heavy sense of deflation and demotivation if these goals aren’t achieved.
It is easy to slip into the pattern of comparing your professional progress with that of your peers, made worse by constant exposure to other people’s successes so widely broadcast on social media. This can have a huge effect on our motivation and confidence, and leave us feeling like we’re failing at life.
So, how can we use goals for what they’re meant for (quantifying, inspiring, and motivating) rather than using them as tools to beat ourselves up with?
Here are my top 5 tips on how to minimise fear of missing out on your goals:
1) Examine the motivation of the goals you set yourself
Do you definitely want to set yourself a rigid target of being in a new job in 3 months’ time? It might feel exciting to make such a commitment, however you could end up rushing into a new job you’re just as unhappy in. It may be better to commit instead to creating clear and specific criteria of what you want from you next job, or dedicating a certain amount of hours per week to job hunting. Both of these will ensure you are progressing, without forcing you into a decision you aren’t sure is right for you.
Be sure that any goals you do set align with your needs and priorities, and aren’t driven by wanting the external validation and praise that often comes with a big career move.
2) Beware: The comparison trap
It’s so easy to compare ourselves negatively and positively to others, and it rarely serves us well. Everyone is on a different journey, with different goals, networks, challenges and advantages.
Your school friend may have been given a promotion, but you have no idea the hours they may have put in, or how much they really like their job. Your ex-colleague may have got a job at your dream company, but you never know what connections they have or sacrifices they may have had to make. Even our close friends may not share the full picture when it comes to the ups and downs of their career.
Comparing ourselves to others is natural and inherently human, however it often results in us feeling inferior. Be aware when you fall into this common trap, and turn your attention to more productive things.
3) Use social media to inspire, not torture
Linking to the point above, be mindful of your social media use, and reflect on what content frustrates you rather than motivates you to take action.
Decide what social media platforms you want to use, be aware of how much time you spend online and reflect on how it could be affecting your productivity and motivation. Unfollow people and pages that don’t serve you.
I read a great book last year called ‘How to Break up with your Phone’ if you want to learn more about how to manage your technology use.
4) See set backs as learning opportunities
This one is easy on paper, hard in practice. In 2018 I set myself the goal of writing a small amount every day. Suffice to say I did not manage that last year. Or this year (yet). I’ve tried to reflect on why this goal didn’t work for me, and how I can modify it in the future to inspire action, rather than use it as a stick to beat myself up with.
When I fail to achieve a goal or target, I sometimes dwell a little too much on the failure, rather than turning my attention away to potential solutions. Some analysis of failure and set backs can be useful, but after a certain amount of reflection focus your energy and attention on future possibilities, rather than past failures.
5) Write down your successes, both big and small
It’s easy to write endless to do lists and action plans, but how often do you make time to record the stuff that goes well? At the end of each day, write down what you have done well, and celebrate even small successes like starting a new project, or contributing in a meeting.
This may feel weird and a bit over the top, but there’s a lot of evidence to support the idea that encouragement leads to better results than criticism.