FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) for New Programmers

Get Out of Tutorial Hell.

Image is created using Canva by Amy Li

What is FOMO?

FOMO is not just the sense that there might be better things that you could be doing at this moment, but it is the feeling that you are missing out on something fundamentally important that others are experiencing right now.

FOMO usually comes from comparing yourself to others. It involves a sense of envy which affects your self-esteem.

What Type of FOMO Are You?

FOMO Type: Negative and Depressed

If the new cool thing (new framework, new language, new architecture, etc.) generates negative feelings for you, such as making you feel anxious because of your little or no knowledge about that thing and believing that there are already many people who know that.

FOMO Type: Positive and Energetic

If the new cool thing generates a positive feeling for you and makes you feel excited about that new cool thing, then you probably end up in a rabbit hole by going through all possible materials to learn that new thing. Many times, you realize that you haven’t finished the most important thing in front of you. That excitement generated by the new unknown cool thing motivates you to spread your life energy aimlessly without a focus. Therefore, compared to the first FOMO type, which might make you feel weak and nervous and keep you living in a negative mood for a while, the second type wakes up your emotion and energy and lets you do a lot of unplanned things, many of which are meaningless efforts. The GTD system (Allen, 2001) helps us make up clear choices and keep a regular check if our tasks still fit into the bigger picture to avoid the aimless movements of keeping searching and watching tutorials without getting anything important done.

Consequences of FOMO for a Coder

As for a coder or someone who just starts learning to code, he/she might often get lost in infinite online tutorials, which stops them from effectively getting things done to make meaningful movements toward their own goals. So, to become a productive and better coder, we need to combat FOMO from now on.

Useful Tips for Combating FOMO

Clarify Your Own Goals and Ignore the Noise

If you are learning JavaScript because you want to develop a web application, no bother feeling FOMO when Python is very hot on social media and many influencers are talking about its usefulness and your close friends start learning Python. Focus on your own goals. So, if the new thing is fitting into the bigger picture of your goal, then pick it up; otherwise, ignore it.

Take Smart Notes and Focus on Your Important Work

If one day you are studying JavaScript by reading a book, there is a sentence mentioning the new trend of using TypeScript, instead of putting your study of JavaScript away, going on the internet to investigate TypeScript, just make a quick note about TypeScript under your note-taking system, then seamlessly go back to your original study. The reason that we can avoid the new stuff lingering in our working memory and taking away our valuable mental energy is that we have built a structure we can trust to help us track everything from the important to the trivial, without fear of missing out on things.

Adaptability Allows You to Miss Out on Things

The best way to frame FOMO as a developer in a positive way is to have a solid foundation in programming.

The tech industry is growing and evolving rapidly, and your favorite framework or programming language might become ‘retired’. Yet, you won’t worry about picking up a new one as the transition is relatively easy for you if you have a strong basis.

Conclusion

We have discussed two types of FOMO according to my own experience. Regardless of which type you’re belonging to, identifying your own goals, along with a decent foundation of programming would help you navigate your daily life flexibly and efficiently.

Useful Sources and Links

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Software Developer | Ph.D. in Medicine https://twitter.com/amy_juan_li https://www.youtube.com/@amyjuanli amyjuanli.gumroad.com

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