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How JOMO (the Joy of Missing Out) Can Save Your Career

Topics: Work Culture

Perhaps you’re familiar with the term FOMO — “fear of missing out.” Patrick J. McGinnis, author of The 10% Entrepreneur, originally intended the term for use in a business decision-making context. But people now use it to describe everything from fear of missing a party to fear of taking the wrong job.

Why has the term evolved? In part, because of our relationship to social media. Career FOMO, in particular, is very real — and very much fueled by being able to see everyone’s carefully curated successes in real time. It’s hard to feel good about your 3 percent raise when everyone else seems to be getting promoted to the executive team. Which is why you should swap your FOMO for JOMO, and experience the Joy of Missing Out.

What’s JOMO?

Anil Dash coined the term JOMO to describe the “wonderful” feeling he had after putting technology mostly aside for the period of time after his son was born. He found that it wasn’t as difficult to be away as it might have been in the past. In fact, it was rather joyous to redefine his relationship to technology.

“Being the one in control of what moves me, what I feel obligated by, and what attachments I have to fleeting experiences is not an authority that I’m willing to concede to the arbitrary whims of an an app on my mobile phone,” Dash wrote. “I think more and more people are going to retake this agency over their feeling about being social as well. That’s a joyful thing.”

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Digital JOMO can Help your career

There is a lot to be said for how JOMO can support you in your professional life. Your career will almost certainly benefit if you spend less time on your phone and social media.

In a way, this is obvious, because less time on apps means more time for your work. But, there’s more to it than that. Research has found that the possibility of making a mistake on a task at work goes up after getting a phone call or text, 28 percent and 23 percent respectively. This is because multitasking isn’t really all it’s cracked up to be — in fact, it doesn’t really work.

You probably know from personal experience that your phone is a productivity killer — it’s really just a matter of being honest with yourself about that and making a commitment to cut down, at least while you’re at work.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”Research has found that the possibility of making a mistake on a task at work goes up after getting a phone call or text, 28 percent and 23 percent respectively. ” quote=”Research has found that the possibility of making a mistake on a task at work goes up after getting a phone call or text, 28 percent and 23 percent respectively. “]

The Joy of Saying No

Digital JOMO is one thing, but to get real benefits from the concept, you have to be prepared to say no — even to real-life fun. (Or sometimes: “fun.”)

The problem is that life is full of activities that feel mandatory, even when they’re supposedly optional. If you say no to the office weight loss contest, are you not a team player? If you decide not to sign your kids up for sports every season, are you neglecting their athletic and social development? And what about your friends — why won’t you join their book club, already?

At Forbes, dietician and health coach Jess Cording explains:

I often see this with my coaching clients: The constant bombardment of things they could or should be doing sucks up valuable time and mental energy, and they fill their calendar with things they don’t necessarily need to do but feel guilty turning down, only to realize they’ve left no time for their own self-care basics like exercise and sleep.

The fact is, you can’t say yes to everything. Trying to do so is wearing you down and making you less productive.

It’s really about self-care

The thing about embracing a JOMO approach to life and technology rather than a FOMO-driven one is that it could help you to be happier and healthier generally. JOMO is really all about self-care. There’s a lot to be said for setting some intentional boundaries.

You don’t have to respond to everyone right away. You don’t have to participate in every exchange online that gets your attention. Don’t forget to consider the benefits of not doing those things — allow yourself to feel that sense of joy of missing out. You’ll free up time and mental energy for the things that really benefit and improve your career and your quality of life. Enjoy it.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you ever experienced JOMO? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.


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