A view from Sue Unerman

Laying off LinkedIn could make you love your job

The writer Amy Grier says that FOMO, or "fear of missing out", applies to work too.

She describes the gut-wrenching feeling that she used to experience in her teens and twenties about missing out on a really good party. She says that this now surfaces, in her thirties, when she reads about her friends’ new start-ups, industry awards or promotions.

In a survey that Lightspeed GMI conducted for a forthcoming book I have co-authored about the challenges of the modern workplace, we asked people across the US, the UK and Russia about their careers.

The full results will be published in the book but I was surprised at the level of discontent that people are currently feeling about their career choices, across country, across gender and across pay grade.

As Grier points out, this has been fuelled by sites such as LinkedIn. Every time we "link in", it asks us to congratulate someone on their new job. As one connection of mine pointed out, this does happen a lot even if you don’t change jobs, as a minor tweak to your title, perhaps from director of important stuff to important stuff director, prompts the system to seek congratulations all round.

We’re bombarded by opportunities for FOMO. A year ago, I quoted the speaker at a conference who said that they were a bit sick of Facebook because all their friends were always on holiday, smiling, relaxed and happy. 

Are you able to shut out the voices? Some people seem to manage it. Perhaps it is all about focus.

Michael Caine, talking about his new film Youth, said that, with all the wisdom of a long and successful career, he had never been ambitious for anything. He had always focused on doing the best job that he could. His drive was to be better than he had been the last time, and so the only person he wanted to beat was himself: "I have no sense of competition; the only competition I have is me. Get on with it, stop worrying about fame, become the best that you can be."

Changing jobs, or even changing careers, can feel like the only answer during chilly January and February. But remember that the grass always looks greener on the other side. 

Furthermore, if you base any career aspirations solely on social media feeds, you’re basing your emotional life on how good your contacts are at spinning their lives. You might as well base your emotional life on how you compare to the models in glossy magazines. Good luck, because I don’t think it will be much fun.

So I don’t think that I do want your job – however great it sounds on social media. I will focus on being better at mine.

Sue Unerman is the chief strategy officer at MediaCom