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Originally Published on Thrive Global August 3


Spending tonnes of time worrying about what friends or competitors are doing, or FOMO, is taking us away from our true purpose and doing our best work.

Are any of these scenarios familiar to you? How is X getting so much more engagement than me on x social media channel? How is person Y making more money than me but they’re not working as hard? I really need to try that new piece of tech? I need to be doing what X guru is telling me?

FOMO or The Fear of Missing Out isn’t worth much, but FOMO can cost us a lot, sometimes in time, sometimes in energy, sometimes in money and occasionally in all three.

This is especially true when it comes to our productivity. FOMO is like a powerful undertow, invisible on the surface of our work, but pulling us away from what matters to help move our business forward.

Right after I left my previous position as Managing Partner in a large marketing agency to set up my coaching business, a couple of, what I thought were interesting, strategic partnership opportunities came up.

I was busy building up my visibility and I thought the free exposure and opportunity to get in front of the ‘right audience’ would be a great fit.

Not so much. Rather than thinking more strategically, I wasted a lot of time and energy on something that just went nowhere. It became a dead end opportunity and I was no further ahead. Plus I had wasted precious time that I could have spent on something that could have really moved the business forward.

But, I feared missing out at the time and let FOMO drive my decision making. Perhaps you can identify.

The Fear of Just Saying No

One of the biggest challenges facing entrepreneurs is the ability to just say NO. We are presented with a myriad of opportunities every day and we can feel like we will miss something important if we don’t jump on it.

The important thing to remember is to fully interrogate the opportunity. Does it fit with my overall strategy? Will it make a real difference to my bottom line? Will it help me to get where I want to go?

It means saying no to most of the opportunities you are offered and not worrying about what everyone else is doing. Pick carefully and stay true to yourself and your vision.

But, sometimes fear can turn that feeling inside out. Suddenly success looks like saying yes to 100 different things. And if we don’t say yes, we worry we’ll fail.

That’s why we’re afraid of passing up an invitation. We worry about missing an opportunity so we say yes to all those that comes along.

FOMO is also why we spend so much time on Facebook and Instagram, why we worry so much about our competitors, why we keep taking so many online courses and signing up to newsletter after newsletter from the latest guru.

We can become so busy saying yes to the vague possibility that something will help us that we don’t focus on the things that really matters most.

A Never Ending To Do List

Our planners and schedules seem to be overflowing with stuff to do, but how important is that stuff? Do you have enough clarity on where you want to go and the focus to get there?

During a typical week we can have so many ‘opportunities’ which drag us down and often never pan out but they take us away from the really challenging, great work. And often, deep down, we know it is.

Our time is fixed so it’s essential to master our time and focus on the things that really matter, not move on to that next shiny object.

So when we pencil in another chance for improved income, status, or relational equity, we do it at the expense of focused time for high-leverage projects and margin for rejuvenation and our most important relationships.

Thankfully, there’s a way out of FOMO to keep you focused and on track.

5 Steps to Overcome FOMO

To keep FOMO from curtailing my productivity, I follow these five steps:

Commit to strong, specific goals

Clarity is key. If your priorities are clear, you can worry about yourself and not think about anyone else. Does the opportunity fit with your business strategy? If yes, cool. If not, forget about it.

Know the high-value activities needed to hit your goals

There’s only so many hours in a day. Prioritise your key activities and work on the most important thing first. Don’t multi-task between projects.

Recognise the tradeoffs

When you are thinking about saying yes ask yourself what you’re giving up. What is the most valuable use of your time right now? If it doesn’t help you reach your goals then the answer is no.

Give yourself permission to say no

Have the confidence to say no to the things that aren’t right for you. After a while you’ll be clear on the things that will help and the things that will drain you of your energy. It’s fine to say no.

Create an abundance mindset

FOMO thrives on scarcity and you being unsure on where you’re heading. Remember all of the great things about you and your business. This will give you the confidence to say no. Remember, there is always another opportunity.

About the Author

Mark Pettit helps successful entrepreneurs create a vision of their ideal future and then build a plan and path to create it.  By having this clarity, his clients are able to expand their freedom and multiply their revenue and growth.

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