Got Ambition FOMO?
February 24, 2021
Have you ever felt a nagging feeling that no matter what title, what accomplishments or accolades, it never seems to feel like enough? You're constantly scrolling LinkedIn, comparing yourself to others, feeling stagnant in your job, or wondering how to up your game and get your name out there? Ambition FOMO, or fear of missing out, can impact anyone, and for those of us who are constantly restless, chasing the next step, or climbing the career ladder, it's increasingly difficult to get out of the game and press restart.
I'm not saying don't go for it, but I am saying that the hamster wheel is real. Check what you're desiring and level with yourself about what's actually happening.
Is "up" really UP for you?
In Motivational Interviewing, there is a concept called the "magical question." In essence, consider this and reflect: Imagine that you go to bed and as you're sleeping, a miracle happens. That miracle has completely solved the issue and has maybe even improved other aspects of your life you hadn't even considered. When you wake up, what is different? Describe those changes in detail. Now, in order for this activity to work, it needs to be grounded in some reality. So if you noticed that you woke up and suddenly you're in a mansion with room service, maybe try this exercise again. That's not what I'm asking you to do here. Let's try again...and this time focus on the feelings you might experience when you're waking up. Focus on the details of your inner world. What might you feel if you woke up and a miracle happened? Would you suddenly feel seen at your job? Would you feel more appreciated? Would you feel special, unique, talented? Try to hone in on exactly what the feelings are, and then ask yourself again, will you get closer to this desired feeling if you continue to climb the ladder?
You still with me? Great.Take a deep breath. It can be a scary process to slow down and ask some of these questions. As a former lawyer, trust me when I say I know these feelings deeply. Being ambitious is certainly a characteristic that is strongly valued in American culture, so it's not just a you issue, it's a we/culture issue. In many ways, it is a healthy motivator for achievement and momentum, but it certainly has a shadow side where the hunger can veer towards obsession, perfectionism, and burnout. If you're noticing yourself feeling some anxiety, that's good. That means you're getting closer to the root of the issue. See if you can take some deep breaths and lean into the anxiety to find out, what emotion is underneath the anxiety?
Often times, at this point, things get too heavy or too overwhelming and we put on the breaks. Makes sense and you've done an amazing job getting to this place. Here's some food for thought:
- Are you noticing fear when you consider alternatives to the current career trajectory you envision?
-What happens when you step off the hamster wheel and try to sit in the present rather than focus on the future? Are you content? If so, what are the aspects of your day that you love? Is there a way to build more of that into your life? If you're not content, see if you can figure out what aspects of the present are hard to sit with?
The reality is, ambition FOMO doesn't disappear on its own. In many ways, it is a form of addiction.Thus, my hope for you is that you start to hone in on what it is exactly that gives you contentment in the present and ask yourself before you step back into the fray what you're truly desiring. Does the ambition help you avoid anything in your life?
If you found that you were able to continue to connect with emotions under the anxiety, see if you can continue to explore those. It might lead to new ideas or creative solutions to get what you want while also getting rid of some of negative aspects of ambition. If you feel like the hustle is truly temporary, feel free to throw this in the trash; however, for those of you who think this might be a habit or a pattern, I really encourage you to continue to reflect on these questions and consider getting some support.