Committing ourselves to sterile processing (SP) professional development will ultimately lead to a multitude of opportunities. Typically, we see that through personal growth we can find professional outlets that may better resonate with our visions of success. The ways in which we commit to professional development will also vary vastly from one person to another. While one person may find that pursuing the traditional degree path is beneficial, the decision to gain on-the-job skills may be more suitable for another in their career goals.

While everyone’s paths may vary greatly, one thing can be certain; professional opportunities will present themselves and the individual must decide if they are right for them. As much as opportunities are inevitably a result of personal and professional development, the fear of missing out is also part of this complicated relationship.


The fear of missing out (FOMO) is the feeling we experience as the result of possibly not participating in or contributing to something else. The feeling could include resentment, sadness, anxiety, or any other expression of uncertainty. We may have heard this phrase in relation to missing an event or interaction that could have potentially brought a more positive or better experience than our current affairs.

In this age of social media and multimedia marketing promotions, there is no limit to outlets that can cause FOMO. The yearning we experience to interact with and be a part of a certain opportunity is unfortunately not restricted to personal endeavors. Every conference promotion, great achievement, and shared experience could cause FOMO for the beholder, no matter how fleeting or brief the moment is.

Different for everyone

Unfortunately, FOMO will be inevitable throughout our career. No matter what we do, the fear of missing out will be present in some shape or form at any given time. That is because FOMO becomes more present in our professional motives as we make our career goals more personal. For example, if we’re working toward becoming a lead technician and department colleague is given the responsibility of covering for the acting lead in their absence, FOMO may set in. We may wonder why we weren’t picked or even ask ourselves what the other technician has that we don’t. This inward projection of resentment and disappointment is FOMO manifesting in the workplace.

Let us look at this situation through a different lens. The SP technician that was asked to cover for the lead might have wanted to say no, but agreed in order to navigate a potentially uncomfortable situation. Maybe they didn’t want to explain why they didn’t want to cover for the lead or worried their manager would feel let down if they said no. They also might have feared missing out on their regular schedule and daily practices. This, too, could result in the inward projection of resentment, although in a slightly different way, of the manager who asked them to cover and the colleague who wasn’t chosen.

These are two very different personal realities of the same professional situation. While one may view it as a missed opportunity, the other views it as a burden and would much rather continue with business as usual.

Increase clarity

The common denominator in both scenarios is a lack of clarity about how the situation will affect the technician until they are already experiencing it. The greatest opponent of FOMO is intentionality. The feelings incited by the fear of missing out can be negated in our professional pursuits. This is done by having a clear understanding of our professional vision (who we want to be when we grow up).

Greater professional clarity would have influenced both technicians in the previous scenario. For example, if the technician who wants to become a lead knew the acting lead was going to be away on vacation, they could have asked the manager to consider them as acting lead. Their clarity in their professional vision provides the opportunity to create actionable steps that could lead to the desired outcome. These actionable steps are a form of intentionality and directly combat FOMO. It also empowers them to say no to certain opportunities that do not align with their personal needs and professional goals.

The most important aspect to remember when it comes to the fear of missing out is that it drives us to believe we should be doing everything. The fear of missing out results in more unintentional “yes” responses than outcomes that actually help us in our professional development. It is important to pause and consider how the moment will help or hinder our professional goals.

We might want to attend every conference and participate in every virtual seminar. However, this is not realistic when we try to schedule it into our own personal responsibilities, time management, and previous commitments. The fear of missing out will always be the one to tell us what we wish we were doing because it plagues our own insecurities about not being included in the moment.

Saying no to FOMO is a vital skill to hone on our path of professional development. We often believe that the only positive outcomes and contributions to our growth come when we say yes. We cannot let the fear of missing out deter us from the positive results of saying no.