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How to FOMO

Tamas Fodor
・5 min read

Has it ever happened to you when you tried to be as productive as you can to kick the day in the ass, but rather you ended up constantly checking the latest technology news on whatever platform you're stuck into? At the end of the day, you feel like you're worthless, unproductive, anxious and overwhelmed.

The good news is that you're not alone. The bad news? You have nothing to do about it. Well, that is just not true but you definitely can't get rid of it entirely. You can just get better control over it. Ladies and gentlemen, behold FOMO, a.k.a. Fear of Missing Out programmed deep inside our genes, Thanks to our prefrontal cortex or whatever part of the brain that is responsible for bringing this bastard into play.

When you look after FOMO on the Internet, you more likely stumble upon articles about the social aspects. From my perspective, as a developer, it's a little bit different. Just a little bit.

Impostor syndrome

I've been working in the Web development industry for over ten years now. I don't have a computer science degree which is a very important component in my case. I don't know much about you but in my country, it's still a thing to rank people based on what paper they have. I still question my value. I still question whether I have the right to work with those smart people around me, whether I'm good enough to accept the challenge and do my best to solve the problem. When it comes to impostor syndrome, FOMO follows.

So you've just got the opportunity to be the part of a team, full of talented people at a new job, huh? Congratulations, dude! It's your first day and right after the onboarding process, you're looking at the new codebase you're going to work on. Until that point, you might have convinced yourself that you're a decent developer. Your colleagues seemed nice. What could go wrong? And then, all of a sudden something has changed. You're like "Oh my gosh! What the heck is this theoretical physics I'm staring at?". The impostor syndrome is about starting to eat you from the inside. You're suffering from it and you're eventually ended up reconsidering your whole life until that point. This is a very bad feeling and you don't want to feel it again, EVER! So you've decided to take action. The outcome? Endless amount of newsletter subscriptions in your mailbox and the number just goes up every day. You've already ordered 3 bestselling books from Amazon on a particular topic just to feel it more tangible. Constantly seeking articles on the Internet to avoid a tiny bit of a possibility to miss anything you think you should know about. Or even worse, spending tons of money on online courses which are totally irrelevant.

That is just ridiculous! And you have to stop doing it RIGHT NOW!

Stick to the goal

Yeah, I hear you. You've been told by all the gurus and coaches and even by your managers that you have to set your own goals. "What goals are you talking about? My goal is to survive this embarrassing situation and fake it `til I make it." Well, I have to be the bad guy this time. They're right. You can't just go to work and hang around. Completing a task here, completing a task there. No. Life is too short to spend your whole day at your 9-5 job just because they give you money and Netflix doesn't accept sand and mud in return for their services.
There must have been a reason why you chose that job. If the job is to create a single page React application, you don't have to focus on Angular or Vue just because "what if they would fire me tomorrow and my next project will be based on them". If your first task is increasing the test coverage, you should focus on learning about the tools you have to use to write unit tests, learning about testing best practices and so on. If you're a front end developer, you don't have to learn about Kubernetes just because your colleagues talk about it during lunch time and you don't want to look foolish and stay silent. If it's for your own entertainment and you're really interested in the topic with all your honesty, that's ok of course.

Staying at the testing example for a moment, suppose your goal is becoming a pro in all the tools you've been using at work to make sure your React app works. The goal itself is too big, you need a plan and break it down in order to accomplish. Forget all the distracting things around you and stick to the plan. Forget Angular, Vue, and Kubernetes. And believe me, it's time to declutter your mailbox.

It's ok to say, I don't know

The reason why we tend to FOMO at work is the fear of being involved in an embarrassing situation when you're asked about something you think you're supposed to know but you don't. That's only in your head. It doesn't really exist. If it happens to get the chance to have a nice conversation with your colleagues during the lunch break about something you don't know, it's ok to say "I don't know". Say "That's interesting. Tell me more about it." They will be more than happy to tell you more about the topic. It's a great opportunity to touch something on the surface and not to mention the opportunity to take your social life to the next level at your job.

Stop seeking validation

The other reason why we FOMO at work is that we take other's opinion on us too seriously. "What she's gonna think about me if I don't know this?", "What they're gonna think about me if I don't know that". Would you like to know what the truth is? They don't even care. The Universe is not spinning around you.

Just ignore things

When you're about to move forward on the path of your journey and you stumble upon something that grabs your attention, just ask yourself the question, "Does it support me to reach my goals?" Doesn't matter if it's the brand new React newsletter, a youtube notification, a tweet by Dan Abramov. Doesn't matter. If it's a mutual fit between you and your goal then go for it. If it doesn't, just simply ignore. Don't underestimate the power of ignorance. The World won't collapse if you miss the hype around a new React feature or something mainstream in the tech industry. You and your goal are more important and the rest can wait. That is the best what you can do for your self-esteem.

I've been really into Swift development recently so I decided to declutter my mailbox. I unsubscribed from all the newsletters that don't support me on the path of a Swift developer.

At work, it happens very often when people around me start talking about something. I just simply ignore them. If it's important, they'll let me know about it for sure. Otherwise, it's just noise.

And last but certainly not least, you should really consider removing all the distracting items from your phone or disabling the notifications at least. They take advantage of human nature and push all the things you don't need at all.
Don't let the information be pushed towards you. You'll pull it when you need it.

Take care!

Discussion (12)

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coolnerdcool profile image
Michel

I can really relate to you in this article. Thank you for sharing this. Being in IT is so demanding and sometimes I forget that everyone is having their own struggle and their own battle inside their heads and the fear of missing out is a big one.

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ruffle1986 profile image
Tamas Fodor Author

Exactly, everyone. We just wear a "mask" sometimes. I'm glad I've helped you to remember. ;)

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ceridwen484 profile image
ceridwen484

You've developed a strong interest in the game geometry dash. As you are aware, you must use a frame and leap on various platforms to keep the lens from falling into the traps you have set up. There are so many different levels to choose from that you will never get bored.

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dwhyte profile image
Dwhyte

Awesome advice ! Thanks man. Sometimes I end up not even coding anything because I’m too busy jumping to the next hype thing in my mind. I appreciate your post!

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clickerheroesco profile image
clickerheroes

The sadness suddenly became longer ->
clicker heroes