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For most of my life, I suffered from pretty extreme FOMO (fear of missing out).
My parents will tell you that up until the time I was 7 or 8, I would never admit to being tired — and not just out of normal childlike stubbornness, but because I was terrified that if I took a nap or went to bed early, I’d miss out on something fun.
The FOMO didn’t go away as I got older; it just evolved to focus more on my friendships and school. I hated taking a sick day from school because I was afraid I’d miss out on some inside joke with my friends or miss a crucial lesson in one of my classes and fall behind.
I said “yes” to pretty much every social invitation I got while I was in school and through most of college, even though I’m more of an introvert and it often totally exhausted me.
Once I got out of school and into the “real world,” my FOMO evolved again, this time into anxiety around whether I was in the right career. Since I had no direction for a while and a serious “grass-is-greener” complex, I was always exploring other options and feeling jealous of other people’s careers. It’s no surprise that I applied to grad school 4 separate times and ended up in 3 different full-time jobs, all within my first 3 years out of college.
I WAS SO AFRAID OF REGRET
I was just as afraid of saying “no” to something (what if I missed out on something great?) as I was of committing to it (what if something better came along?). So I tried to say yes to everything, while somehow simultaneously keeping my options open. Because of that, I never really felt settled.
As exhausted as this made me, I honestly didn’t realize it was a problem for years. I actually thought I was being smart and practical for trying to do, consider, and say yes to everything.
Ultimately, though, all I did was burn myself out and feel more confused than ever.
I know I’m not the only one — most of my coaching clients will admit to feeling FOMO in some (if not all) areas of their lives.
It sounds something like this:
“I feel like I should take this new job opportunity. It’s not exactly what I want, but I’m afraid I won’t get another offer anytime soon.”
“I’m so tired tonight, but my friends are going out and I don’t want to miss out on a potentially good time, so I’ll muster up the energy to go meet them.”
“I’m considering multiple career paths, but I’m afraid to pick one in case I choose wrong and regret it later on.”
The fear can feel really real, and it can seriously paralyze your decision making. The more you give in to FOMO, the more weighed down you’ll feel by all the things you “should” or “could” be doing.
It’s exhausting and chaotic and the opposite of fulfilling. I should know … I lived my whole life like this until my early 20s.
Now, fast-forward several years, and …
I ALMOST NEVER FEEL FOMO ANYMORE
Seriously, I can’t remember the last time I did something out of a fear of missing out. I just don’t care about that at all anymore. In fact, I now get a weird thrill out of saying “no” to things I don’t want to do or don’t have much energy around.
So, how did I get over a lifetime of FOMO?
It boils down to two things:
1. I now know myself on the deepest level.
After years of coaching and personal development of all kinds, I’ve developed complete confidence in who I am and what’s important to me. I’ve uncovered my deepest desires, my most important values, and my top priorities. Anything that doesn’t align with those things just falls by the wayside, and I’m never sad to see it go.
That’s led to clarity about what I want in every area of my life: my business, my personal relationships, my free time, my health. I know exactly how I want my life to feel, and I make confident decisions to get me closer to that on a daily basis.
As a result, I have a solid filtering system that I run all possibilities through. If something isn’t a “hell yes” — as in, it doesn’t feel like it aligns with my values, desires, and priorities — I have no trouble letting it pass on by.
2. I honestly trust and believe that, when a door in your life closes, it always leads to a better one opening soon afterward.
I no longer have any doubt that even things that look like massive disappointments or big regrets are ultimately working out for my benefit. I’ve crashed and burned many times over, only to realize later that it was leading me away from something that was never right for me anyway and toward the perfect next step.
When you trust that life is ultimately working out in your favor, then there’s really no such thing as “missing out” — if something doesn’t feel right or doesn’t work out, it’s because something far better is on its way.
I’m not going to lie and tell you these shifts happened to me overnight. It took me years to figure these things out, and it definitely wasn’t always an easy path.
If you’re suffering from FOMO, I have good and bad news for you
The bad news: There’s no “how-to” guide or “3 simple steps” for becoming more self-aware and getting over your FOMO (and anyone who tells you otherwise is seriously over-simplifying things). But I will tell you one small, but powerful, thing that helped me release my FOMO.
Before you say “yes” to any opportunity, invitation, job, relationship, etc., ask yourself, “What’s my intention? Why am I saying ‘yes’ to this?”
If the answer comes from fear (fear of missing out, fear of regret, fear that it might be your “one chance,” etc.), then you’re doing it for the wrong reasons and you’re almost guaranteed to not feel fulfilled by it.
If, on the other hand, you’re saying “yes” purely out of excitement and because it feels totally right, then by all means … carry on! Just make sure these are the only things you’re saying “yes” to.
And here’s the good news: Figuring all of this out doesn’t have to take you years (like it did for me).
For those of you who are ready to stop making reactive, fear-based decisions (goodbye, FOMO!) and figure out who you are, what you really want, what you’re passionate about, and how to make decisions with confidence and clarity … well, that’s exactly why Rachel and I created the Passion Plan Virtual Experience. It’s a 6-week program specifically designed to help you know yourself on the deepest level so you can start living a passionate, directed, fulfilled life.
Enrollment for the Virtual Experience is open until tomorrow (or until we reach our capacity of 50 members — whichever comes first). If you’re tired of trying to figure this all out on your own, and you like the idea of being guided through a proven process with a group of like-minded people, then this may be perfect for you.
We also take our 1-on-1 coaching clients through this same process, which is an even more personalized experience, if that’s more your style.
Now I’d love to hear your experiences with FOMO. What are you most afraid of missing out on? Or if you’ve gotten over your own case of FOMO, what worked for you? Share with me, in the comments!
Kristen (& Rachel)
THE PPVE IS OPEN FOR ENROLLMENT
Our twice-yearly online group coaching program, the Passion Plan Virtual Experience, is open for enrollment NOW through October 3rd (or when we hit 50 people, whichever comes first).
It’s a 6-ish week course (with a mix of pre-recorded videos, workbook assignments, and live Google hangouts with the two of us) that helps you figure out what to do with your life. Think of it as the “AP Life” class you should have taken in high school, but never got the chance!
We’re only taking 50 people in this round and there are only a few spots left. If you want in, you definitely don’t want to dally.
My whole life is ruled by FOMO, I almost destroyed it because of that. Since I got a disability I am trying to change that because now the virtual “I can’t” got to be very realistic so thank you for your input on that. I believe is a disease in millennials and is not enough addressed in our society
You’re right, FOMO has become a disease in our modern culture, especially for Millennials. I’m glad to hear you’re working to change that for yourself and that this blog was helpful!