FOMO – Not What You May Think

We commonly think of FOMO, or fear of missing out, in relation to social situations. We tend to think of situations such as someone feeling left out. Social media intensifies FOMO because perfect, unrealistic lives are often portrayed. Those with FOMO feel they are left out of that perfect life, especially when compared to their own.

That’s not the type of FOMO I’m talking about today.

The Quest for the Perfect Information

FOMO can also be applied to other situations such as fear of missing out on some important information. People who experience this can become obsessive in their quest for the best information, the perfect course or the perfect book.

In a nutshell they are never satisfied and always want more. In this case it’s not coming from a place of greed, but instead anxiety. FOMO at its root is anxiety driven.

A client once told me that she and a friend started a new endeavor together. When something is fresh, shiny and new, it is always exciting. Who wouldn’t want more and more? Most people want more and more until it reaches a point of “enough is enough” when common sense kicks in. Either your budget constraints catch up with you or your curiosity starts to wane or you just get tired of it.  

Her friend was so excited that she wanted to take almost every course out there. Even on topics indirectly related to their shared interest. At first my client was on board. She joined her friend taking countless courses and buying related products. Then my client reached her max. She told her friend that she won’t be taking anymore courses. She was ready to move on and put into practice what they were learning. Her friend, on the other hand, was content being the perpetual student. She kept up her quest until a third friend intervened and advised her to stop, which she eventually did, to her credit.

It’s one thing to be new at something and want to learn all that you can. I get it. It’s another thing to have anxiety about putting this new knowledge into practice. That’s when many people stay stuck in the perpetual student role. It’s safe. It’s comfortable. You don’t have to do anything but sit there and learn. You don’t have to face your fears.

When FOMO Becomes an Obsession

It’s another level, though, to not be able to stop. That’s the FOMO I’m referring to. When that kicks in, it’s hard to stop because it turns into an obsession. The quest for more and more information is endless. “Just one more” you may catch yourself saying. Or “If I could just find…” so you keep searching. Those are your warning signs.

When you see the danger signs, take a new direction. Sensible people will realize where they’re headed and cut it off. Those that have obsessive tendencies, will not. They will keep going. Until either they wear themselves out or lose interest, which may take a while. If you know that you have obsessive tendencies, do yourself a favor and cut yourself off now.

It gets you nowhere to keep looking. It’s like when you’re searching for some obscure topic on Google and go ten pages deep. If you even make it that far, your chances of finding that information are pretty slim. That’s when you have to cry uncle and give up. Or find a new resource. Most people, though, don’t make it past the first page of Google, for many reasons. One being “it’s just not that important.”

When something is really important, though, we keep up our quest. If there’s a good reason for your pursuit, keep at it. Many times, though, there isn’t a good reason other than your FOMO. Recognize it, then do your best to stop it.

How to Stop It

How do you stop it?

Talk yourself down. Realize that you may never find the perfect information, book, course, etc. It may not exist. As frustrating as that may be, it might be the stark reality. Learn to live with that. Learn to let go. Tell yourself it’s not as important as you may think. Or that it’s ok to not find it, it really is. Learn to be content with what you have, not what you don’t.

If the looping thoughts of “I must find it” keep circulating in your brain, that’s when a mindfulness practice is in order. Notice that it’s happening. That’s your cue to start deep breathing or put on a guided meditation or something to calm your mind.

Set limits. Tell yourself that you’ll only search for 10 more minutes, or one more day. To keep on searching is not only a waste of your time, but a test of your sanity. Obsessions do “drive us crazy.” Real OCD conditions need to be professionally treated, whatever that looks like.

Don’t substitute one obsession for another, instead try distraction. Get outside to commune with nature. Find a hobby or go back to one you neglected during your hunt for the perfect information.

One of my favorite techniques that works for so many things is play the “What if” game. What if I don’t find the perfect information? Then what happens? Will I never excel because I can’t find it?

Don’t Get Stuck

It’s more likely that you won’t move forward. So not only will you not excel, but you won’t accomplish anything. Is that what you really want? Your fear of failure may be ok with that, but deep down no one wants to fail. By continuing to search you are staying stuck, not accomplishing. Do you really want to stay stuck? That’s never a good feeling. Refer to my recent blog post on staying stuck to help you move past that.

Not only do we stay stuck, we become more dissatisfied. Dissatisfied with life, with ourselves, with our inability to find what we are searching for. The more dissatisfied we become can lead to depression, irritability, social withdrawal etc.

Becoming unsatisfied is all the more reason to have other interests. Take a walk, bust out your journal to express how you feel, put some music on…something. Just don’t substitute one obsession for another. It might feel better because you got off the first one, but all you did was plug in a new one.

When we sit back and do nothing, we really are missing out. We are missing out on life with all its special and mundane moments. We become so caught up with the fear of missing out that we end up creating just that.

It’s good to have interests, just don’t become the perpetual student who never dares to apply what they learn. Or the obsessive who is always searching, yet never finding.

Life really is too short to miss out on even a moment. As I’ve said many times, the common expressions really do hold profound meaning. In our busy-ness or lack thereof, we miss them. Don’t miss out on them. Then you won’t have FOMO.

Are you experiencing FOMO and you’re not sure? Your best source of answers is YOURSELF, your inner knowing, your intuition.

Do you have intuition? YES! You do!

Do you want to learn to develop it? CLICK HERE to find out more.

Many of my clients have said that they want to learn how to develop their intuition. Because of that, I developed this easy-to-follow do it at your own pace, online course. It’s packed with tips, hacks and how-to exercises.

If you want to confirm that you have it, learn how to listen to it, how to talk to it and how to trust it start by CLICKING HERE.

Once you start listening to your intuition, you’ll be amazed how much your life clicks into place. Then you can truly start enjoying yourself and get what you want out of life!

CLICK HERE to find out more