FOMO – Fear of Missing Out… That feeling that you just have to have something or be somewhere because if you don’t…. well if you don’t, you WILL miss out!
Fear of Missing Out has always been around but the Internet and social media have intensified our insecurities and have us on permanent alert for fear that we are missing out on the most amazing social events or that our lives are just not complete without that one product or service that will provide us with elusive eternal happiness (or business success).
I have been a perpetual victim of fear of missing out in all aspects of my life.
Fear of Missing Out Example 1 – Swimming Lessons for a 9 Week Old Baby
I traipsed across London at 5pm on a Friday night with a 9 week old baby to take her to swimming classes.
Everybody else I knew was taking their newborn baby to swimming classes and I was convinced that if I didn’t get her started early then she would never be confident in the water.
The result… while it did ‘get me out of the house’ and being a first time mother with a 9 week old baby having reasons to ‘get out of the house’ was pretty high on my list of priorities, the whole experience was stressful and not much fun for either party.
It was 5pm on a Friday night. The last thing a 9 week old wants to do is get squished on a boiling hot commuter train and then dunked in lukewarm water for half an hour.
And at 5pm on a Friday night the last thing a first time mother who was more used to sitting in a bar drinking cocktails wants to do is sit on a disabled toilet breastfeeding a newborn.
There was nowhere else to sit to feed her and it WAS as miserable as it sounds. Instead, I could have been snug and warm in my own home enjoying my newborn baby.
Fear of Missing Out Example 2 – 100 Plus eMails a Day
In the early days of building my business I went through a period of receiving 100 plus emails a day. I had been seduced by the beautifully crafted copy on websites that claimed that they could show me how to build my business.
I was receiving emails on everything from website design, time management, affiliate marketing, accounting, tax, franchise opportunities and that is just scratching the surface.
The result…. I spent months spinning my wheels. I was so bogged down, sifting through all of the information that I had exposed myself to that I got nowhere.
I thought that I was ‘working’ when in actual fact I couldn’t see the wood for the trees and was spending all of my time trying to figure out what the hell I was supposed to be doing, rather than getting on and making it happen.
And this was before our old friend ‘comparison-itis’ set it and I was receiving another 50 emails a day keeping an eye on what my ‘competitors’ were up to, what they were offering and how much they were charging.
It was completely and utterly exhausting but what if I missed out on that one golden nugget? That one thing that was going to catapult my business from an unknown nobody to a six figure success?!?
Guess what? There was no golden nugget. Just lots of blueprints, strategies and confusion. I should have been using that time to take the baby steps required to move my business forward.
Fear of Missing Out Example 3 – 240 Toilet Rolls In A Cupboard
This is quite possibly my most pathetic example of fear of missing out but it certainly does illustrate the point.
A few years ago, my local supermarket were running a special offer on toilet roll. I now can’t remember the exact details but it was a good deal. And because it was a good deal I seized the opportunity to stock up and grab a bargain. I was not going to be paying for full price toilet rolls for quite some time, no sireee!
The result…. over the space of a week when the promotion was running I bought 20 packs of toilet roll containing 12 rolls each. I had 240 toilet rolls stashed in a cupboard.
It really was quite some time before I had to pay full price for toilet roll. And in that time the local supermarket ran that promotion many times over. And as a result of having 240 toilet rolls stashed in the cupboard I missed out on stocking up on many other offers because there was no space in that cupboard!
As my Grampa would say ‘a bargain is only a bargain if you need it’.
Why Fear of Missing Out is Holding Back Your Business
I’ve already explained why fear of missing out held back my business in the early days. I was so busy trying to keep up with what everybody else was doing, terrified I was going to miss out on the latest social media trend or that six point blueprint that would tell me EXACTLY what I was supposed to be doing.
I see it all of the time.
I was working with a wonderful client. She is an amazing lady running a moderately successful business but desperate to step up and expand her customer base.
As we talked through various online business strategies she would comment ‘ah yes I’ve bought a course about that‘. When I dug deeper I discovered she had bought many, many, many courses from all of the big names in online marketing. She had made a serious investment. We never did get her definitive list of courses that she owned but I would estimate she had spent at least $25k on online marketing programmes.
And yet still, she hadn’t moved forward. She bought these courses because the carefully crafted copy on the sales page instilled a fear that if she didn’t sign up by the given deadline that she would miss the opportunity to learn the golden nuggets that would finally allow her to expand her business.
She never implemented what she learned on these courses. I suspect that a lot of the time she didn’t even access the training materials. She would get round to it ‘one day’ when she wasn’t quite so busy. But at least she had access to them, that was the main thing.
As each new offer was released by the business mentors that she so hugely admired she would dutifully take them up on their offer, file the programme away into the ‘when I’ve got more time’ folder and dabble with them when she did get a spare few minutes.
Her Fear of Missing Out had a huge financial cost in terms of the cost of the courses but her ‘dabbling’ meant that she never committed to any of these courses and got the value from them that she should have.
So how about you? Do you suffer from Fear of Missing Out? How does it manifest itself? Is it holding your business back?
Be brave and leave a comment, the more we acknowledge Fear of Missing Out the more we can recognise when our behaviour is affected by it and not succumb to it’s charms!