My Perspective on FOMO

I just saw a great post on Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) on Bob Lowry’s blog, Satisfying Retirement. The link is on my home page and it’s a great read, along with many of his other posts.

FOMO for me is different because I’m not actually retired yet. Bob has been retired for a long time and knows what he’s talking about. I’m still just trying to get used to the idea of being retired for now.

Even though I’ve been in phased retirement for over two years now and this coming year is my last before full retirement (see my countdown!), I’m still coping with FOMO.

I check my email several times a day, even when I’m not on service. My position will likely be filled with my replacement well before the year is out. Occasionally I’ll find a trainee evaluation that is time sensitive that I have to complete. I updated the guide to the psychiatry consultation service and notified others about that just yesterday.

What am I going to do when I’m retired? That’s what so many ask me and which I sometimes ask myself. I’m actually having a pretty good time now that I’m finally adjusting to phased retirement. According to the 2018 Report on U.S. Physicians’ Financial Preparedness: Retired Physicians Segment, one suggestion is that physicians try to retire gradually rather than abruptly.

I agree with that and the phased retirement program I’m in has felt right for me. It hasn’t stopped me from FOMO so far, but I’m gradually getting more and more enjoyment from doing things that are not work-related—even though FOMO makes me check my email and the electronic medical record every day.

My wife and I started saving very early on in my medical training and we were fortunate enough to eliminate educational debt early. We’ve always lived simply and don’t need a lot of expensive toys.

Feed me!

I find ways to build a schedule into my day. I exercise and meditate.

I’m not much for yard work, but I try. I get a big kick out of hobbies I’ve rediscovered such as bird-watching.

I like to make silly videos as some of my medical students have noticed. One of them learned how to fold a fitted sheet from one of my YouTube videos. I really enjoy blogging and combining that with my mostly short YouTube movies. You’ll notice I do have some work-related videos, though, some of them fairly recent.

Hey, here’s how to fold a fitted sheet!

The featured image for this post was actually partly a creation of one the residents a few years ago, who by some miracle found a way to combine my photo with a picture of a smartphone. I added a little more to it to make the point about FOMO.

My FOMO nightmare, once upon a time.

I actually didn’t have a smartphone until about 4 years ago. And I still mainly use it just as a phone. I check the step counter when I’m staffing the psychiatry consultation service, but I’ll quit doing that.

In fact, the residents persuaded me to get a smartphone. I had a flip phone for a few years prior to that mainly because a snowstorm caught my wife out on the road while she was driving to the hospital to pick me up from work. I had no way of knowing where she was and was worried out of my mind. That convinced me we needed more than land lines.

I may go back to the flip phone after I fully retire.

I still use a desk phone at work. For the first time in my career, last weekend it just quit working. You can’t imagine how happy I was.

Whenever I drop my pager, I always say out loud to the trainees, “Oh my gosh, I hope it’s broken!” I’m only half-joking.

I won’t miss pagers when I retire.

I dropped most of my social media accounts over a year ago, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Doximity believe it or not. I don’t miss them.

I’ll keep you posted on how my struggle with FOMO goes.

Author: James Amos

I'm a retired consult-liaison psychiatrist. I navigated the path in a phased retirement program through the hospital where I was employed. I was fully retired as of June 30, 2020. This blog chronicles my journey.

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