FOMO can be a total goal-killer. That Fear Of Missing Out can cause us to buy stuff we didn’t want until we saw someone else had it. It can make us join groups and organizations even when we’re already stretched too thin. We joke about it at our church, that FOMO is what drives people to uber-participation. Overall, it has power to convince us do things we don’t really want to do.
FOMO and the Perfect Job
The FOMO I’m thinking of the most lately relates to changing jobs. Y’all know Mr. COD is on the job hunt. He was thinking seriously about getting into graduate teaching a year ago, but when I pulled my “I’m gonna quit my job” act, we decided that moving and his changing jobs would have been too much on top of that big shift.
But this year, things are different. He has a bit more teaching experience, and we’re both finally ready to take the plunge and move. This job hunt has us both going through stages of being convinced one new job is better than another, then shifting to another one, then going back to thinking he should just stick with the job he currently has.
We find many things to obsess over and worry about. If Mr. COD received an offer and accepted the position, what if an even better job opened up a week later? Or what if a family member moved south while we moved north, so visits would be even rarer? What if he took a new job this year that’s not in our preferred location, and then a position in the ideal city appeared a year later? We wouldn’t want to move again so soon, nor would it be appropriate to put the graduate school’s search committee through that process again so soon.
Stuff We Can’t Control
I tend to want to plan every little detail of our lives out. Creating this picture of what life should look like is just so much fun! You guys do it too, right? We plan out if or when we’ll marry, what our spouse will be like, how many kids we’ll have (or not have), where we’ll live, cars we’ll drive, activities we’ll do, friends we’ll know, vacations we’ll take…It goes on and on.
So I think FOMO comes into play when we imagine we know the best way to make our dream life happen. We analyze and overanalyze every single decision and how it might affect our future. When choosing a college, I figured I’d not only determine my career path, but I’d also meet my future husband there, so it was absolutely crucial to attend the “right” school. Otherwise, I could miss out on my destiny! (I wish I’d, you know, factored student loans into that whole equation a bit more. Going to college debt-free could have really set an amazing future in motion!)
But in reality, we make choices everywhere we go. We run the risk of missing out on everything if we think through decisions too much. It’s the problem of “paralysis by analysis”. We fret over making the wrong choice and missing out on amazing things, causing us to miss out on everything. I certainly could have become a teacher by attending any four-year school. I could also, in theory, meet Mr. Right anywhere. (Turns out, we met in a bar, both subbing for a friend in his summer dart league. Who knew?)
So there’s a ton we have zero control over in this potential job change. We can’t, for example, foresee which new town will come equipped with the perfect friends for each member of our family. We can’t predict whether we’d be blessed with incredible neighbors in one town and neighbors who’d make us miserable in another town. We can only pray, research, and decide based on the information we have.
FOMO and the Perfect House
It is paralyzing sometimes to ponder all the hundreds of situations that could change if we move. There’s a fear of the unknown. Will we be able to sell our house? If so, how will the timing of said sale work out with finding a new home? Should we rent or buy when we move?
Speaking of housing, talk about major FOMO! While on this job search we’ve perused Zillow somewhat obsessively, and we definitely have a fear of missing out on the “perfect” house. The past few months we’ve focused on the two cities in which Mr. COD had his big interviews, to get a feel for each area and what we might be able to afford in each one.
We get excited about one house, weigh the pros and cons, and when that house shows a pending or completed sale, our hearts deflate a little bit. This was when we weren’t anywhere close to being ready to make an offer on a house, ha!
Now, as we inch ever closer to (more like hurtle towards) summer 2017, when a move is really possible, we become ever more attached to certain houses. We come down with FOMO. What if we wait too long to make a move on our “dream” house? What if we purchase a house, only to see an even more perfect house appear on the market weeks or months later? Would we regret not renting first to get a feel for the area?
Clearly, I can drive myself insane with all the FOMO. We can’t do everything. Not making a decision IS making a decision. When our kids are a little older, we don’t want them signed up for twelve different enrichment activities every week. We want them to pick one or two things apart from school and focus on doing them really well. Same with us. We can’t stress nonstop over trying to do everything perfectly, or get everything we want, or make everyone happy.
FOMO and Our One-Year Blogiversary!
Yep, today is the one-year anniversary of our first post here at Changing Our Default! We haven’t taken it as far as we would have liked to, but it’s been an awesome way to chronicle our journey with finances and parenting and big life changes. I’ve loved getting to know other personal finance bloggers through comments, I’ve gotten to hone my writing voice a bit more, and I’m looking forward to continuing to work and learn here as Mrs. COD.
I think of just a little over a year ago, when I put in my resignation at work, and how afraid I’d been of that moment. Every time before then, when I’d fantasize about quitting my job for any reason, I’d always give up due to one thing: fear. FOMO was very real. Fear of missing out on income, of course, which is a valid issue. I didn’t want to lose my identity (Mrs. ONL just published a terrific post about validation through work that ties into that fear). I was afraid of not being able to find another job when I needed one. I had anxiety over whether I’d ever find another job I would enjoy as much as the one I’d had for fourteen years.
Here I am a year later, doing just fine. We had to run the numbers in advance to be sure my quitting wouldn’t ruin us, of course, but it’s been working out. As Mr. SSC recently articulated it, I like work, but I love life more. I get to enjoy my kids and teach them and even explore other side-income options. Like Ms. Montana, I’m savoring time with my family rather than racing to early retirement.
Challenges will abound when I eventually return to a traditional job, but it’s foolish to worry about it two years in advance. Now, I’ve encountered struggles I hadn’t anticipated (such as my deep lack of patience for my kids arguing over toys), but I do not regret leaving my teaching position.
Imagine all the sweet moments I would have missed out on…because of my fear of missing out on those other things! Plus, the break from teaching has opened my mind to other possibilities, to careers that inspire my passion in a way that teaching never quite could. I’m excited about side hustles that might even turn into full-time work! Hey, I have to dream big, right? Let the FOMO work for my benefit, as a motivator instead of a paralyzer!
We want to know: how do you deal with FOMO? Do you find that fear of missing out acts as a motivator or a discourager? Have you ever taken (or missed) an opportunity that truly changed your life?