How to Defeat FOMO, the Fear of Missing Out

what does fomo mean and how to overcome it

How many times do we do things out of compulsion or an inherent fear of missing out? I got hooked to stock market frenzy only to withdraw quickly after booking losses, some introspection is what led to think deeper on this.

The same Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) of creating wealth is what led me there, as I visualise FOMO playing out in various forms.

Do you see yourself in any of the situations?

  • Doing visible work only to be seen by your management, not aligned to your interests.
  • Accepting the first offer available while looking for a job change.
  • Being hooked to social media all the time yet depressed.
  • Spending on conference’s for promotion fearing competitors.
  • Agreeing to every single client request fearing losing to competitors.

FOMO is “an anxiety syndrome which provokes us to take a particular line of action, not doing so instils fear of possible upside we would miss out.”

Anxiety is fuelled by the belief that others are in the know of things which enables them to lead a more rewarding life. Anxiety gets compounded when a herd is following a direction which you don’t take.

Why we slip into this mode

Herd Mentality, borrowed conviction, greed, the inability to say “no”, peer pressure, and many more reasons. You can add more once you introspect decisions taken under the pressure of FOMO.

We as individuals feel a need to belong to a group, society etc.  This is a reflection how we have formed nations which divide us geographically, Social, Cultural groups you follow which mould our preference’s and thinking.

This indirectly influences us to do what the group is doing, ceding space to herd mentality rather than what’s important to you.

When you cede to herd mentality, you lose confidence, ability to exercise choice, as you are left with none. This is the genesis of Fear of Missing out.

Our relationship with FOMO is perpetual but toxic, left with a confused mind, making wrong choices with damaging outcomes.

To lead a meaningful life, we must break up with FOMO. Here are few simple steps which successful people follow

1. Put Away Your Phone

This is, bar none, the pivotal step.

Scrolling through social media gives us an instant kick of dopamine: the pleasure hormone. But overdoing it makes us miserable because we compare others’ highlight reels to our behind-the-scenes.

Putting away your smartphone will create tiny empty spaces in your life which you can fill with meaningful work.

2. Say No

If it’s not a “Hell Yeah,” it’s a no. – Derek Sivers

Saying no sounds arrogant.

But through research, Vanessa Bohns noted that people don’t take no as badly as we think they well. “Chances are the consequences of saying no are much more in our heads than in reality,” she said.

Steve Jobs had the courage to say “no”. He (and Apple) abandoned 1,000 great ideas to meet one big goal.

The more things you say no to, the more time and space you get to do what you really want to do.

3. Make a Not-to-Do List

It’s not the daily increase but the daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential. – Bruce Lee

In his stellar article, Tim Ferriss explained that not-to-do lists are more effective than to-do lists for upgrading performance because what you don’t do determines what you can do.

By doing more, we get stuck in the “activity trap”. By doing less, we focus on what matters, make progress, and experience less FOMO.

4. Commit to the Process

“I start early and I stay late, day after day, year after year, it took me 17 years and 114 days to become an overnight success.” –Lionel Messi

Warren Buffett’s net worth is $87.3 billion today, but he didn’t make his first billion until age 50.

Buffett, like many successful people, found a process that works, stuck to it, and kept tweaking it achieve results that make us drop our jaws in awe.

When you find something that works, stick to it. When you keep doing something, the snowball effect kicks in until one day, you suddenly burst onto the scene.

The outcome is what we see. The process is what leads to it.

5. Reduce Anxiety Levels

Be disciplined, do what matters to you, not falling for herd mentality help’s control your anxiety.

“Only the disciplined ones are free in life. If you aren’t disciplined, you are a slave to your moods. You are a slave to your passions. That’s a fact.” – Eliud Kipchoge

Over to You

How does FOMO affect your life? What steps do you take to overcome it? Do leave a comment. I would love to hear from you.

Picture of Murali Sunderraghavan

Murali Sunderraghavan

Leave a Reply

10 Responses

  1. In current corporate life, FOMO is a depressing thing. Lot of times it so happen that due to FOMO, you might miss the bus.
    As you rightly said the lay down steps are very important and useful to overcome of FOMO.

    As a start up entrepreneur, it’s very difficult for us to say No. looking forward to hear more on how to say No convincingly..

    1. Thanks Narsimha Alwal. Yes succumbing to FOMO is the biggest challenge which I have seen. Decisions taken under this pressure come with damaging outcomes in the long term. Yes saying “No” for an established player is easy, for start-up its a journey from accepting everything, to being in a position to choose. This is an interesting topic will address in our upcoming article drawing from our experience of Kwench and k:lib.

  2. An interesting and useful article for all. This is certainly going to help me and many more in making choices and taking decisions.

  3. Loved it!! It is interesting to see that we are doing things which we are not aware would do more harm than good. It is articles like these which make us sit down take the time and introspect which is very useful.

  4. My real challenge is agreeing to every Client request in the fear of losing out to the competition. This article really connected with my personal fears. Thank you so much for the useful tips however saying no is easier said than done. Here is to moving from FOMO to JOMO!

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