I’ve been semi-run by Fear of Missing Out, a-k-a FOMO, since I was quite young. My parents grew up in Houston and because they both enjoyed our extended family, we went to Houston frequently, driving in on Friday evening after my dad got off work.
Following Saturday night dinners at my aunt’s house, the adults gathered in the living room for more visiting (and sipping)! When my brother grew sleepy, he’d simply lie down on the floor and be in dreamland within a few minutes. My older brother’s conk out signaled my mom to dutifully take me into a bedroom away from the action in an attempt to get me to go to sleep, too.
“Is everyone going to bed?” I’d ask.
“No, honey, the adults are going to stay up and visit for a while,” she’d reply in a lullaby voice. “Just try to fall asleep for awhile before we go back to your grandmother’s house.”
After she left the room, whenever I heard a peel of laughter, I’d wonder what story my older cousins were telling, curious if it was a new one or one of the favorites I’d heard before. When I heard metal clink against china, I wondered whether more homemade dessert was being served. I remember thinking, “I’m missing out on all the good stuff!” After a few minutes I couldn’t take it and would slink back out to the living room and sit in my grandmother’s lap or stand beside someone’s chair. At some point my mom just stopped the ritual because she knew I wasn’t going to sleep while fun was being had somewhere in the house.
FOMO kept me going non-stop throughout my school years and is probably one of the reasons I bordered on insomnia through high school and college. I was the queen of extra-curricular activities by way of school plays, drum and bugle corps, academic clubs, etc. And, if there was a party to go to, I went. If there was a concert to go to, I went. If there was someone up in the dorm to talk with, I talked until all hours.
When I started my coaching and training business, I was out almost every night because I realized the best way to help pioneer the field of coaching and build my own coaching brand was to say a big “Yes, please!” to opportunities to connect. I served on several Boards of Directors of professional associations, non-profit and advocacy organizations; I jumped at the chance to be the youngest president of a prestigious LA networking chapter; I attended as many conferences and training events as I could.
True, I built a great reputation, a thriving coaching business and strong circles of collaborators, friends and colleagues. And then I slammed into a wall after five years. I could not face one more under-done chicken dinner in a hotel ballroom (I swear becoming a vegetarian was partly due to those under-done chicken dinners!). So I swung the pendulum and pulled way back. I didn’t renew my Board positions, I gave myself permission to “miss out” by choosing only one event a week to attend and I said no to speaking for a group more than 25 miles away from my home without a big paycheck.
And just like any addict, I went through severe withdrawal, bordering on anxiety attacks. Would I be forgotten? Would opportunity stop knocking? How would new clients find me? Would I be bored?
FOMO Fuels our Masks
FOMO can be like jet-fuel to many of the Masks of Success – like Chief Operating Officer of Control, Over-Doer, Over-Giver, and Suck It Up, Buttercup to name a few. And, yes, FOMO is itself a Mask designed to create a mystique or aura about us. It almost dares someone to dare us to a challenge. FOMO is one of the underlying reasons we keep saying “yes” at the expense of our health, pocketbook and relationships.
Flash Forward to Middle Age Wisdom
I have learned my body cannot sustain the FOMO manic pace of my youth, yet I find myself going through FOMO about once a week when certain offers arrive in my inbox. Like tonight, as I write this, I’m letting an Early Bird rate for what sounds like a great program and product I do want to use in my business go by.
FOMO is screaming that I might miss out on something brilliant. And I might. However, I checked in with my Inner Wisdom (an entity from my future I call JoyFullLight) and she confirmed what I knew in my heart – the timing for this program is off. I would miss at least half of the six classes and won’t implement the product in my business until third quarter. Adding another thing to my over full plate right now would have me seriously miss out on experiencing anything like joy or peace or even being able to be present to the moment. And though I am completely confident in JoyFUllLight and my intuition, I am struggling with FOMO about my decision to not move forward at this time.
And what it comes down to is this: Being run by FOMO makes us question our decisions to NOT do something.
Tonight, I worried about losing out on a “good deal” (and who’s to say that when the time is right for me to move forward with this product there won’t be an even better deal?). What I gained though, by sitting through FOMO’s rant and staying true to myself is a sense of calm by putting into action my inner JoyFullLight wisdom.
FOMO is something I choose to not let run my life anymore.
What is FOMO’s influence on your decisions? What does FOMO get you? What does FOMO cost you? Share in the comments below your FOMO stories. If you’d like to crack your FOMO code once and for all, I’d love to support you – email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Love and Light,