Does anyone else out there have an extreme fear of missing out (otherwise known as FOMO to the Facebook gen)? I know I do – massively. From wanting to try a new restaurant with a group of friends, to making the effort of getting out of bed each morning to work out at the gym – whether I’m tired, busy or just having a rest day, I’m often left feeling slightly uneasy at missing out on something, in fear of regretting not having the chance to do it again. Can you relate to this?
This isn’t by the way anything to do with ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’ – what I’m talking about here is a fear of not trying, doing or seeing something for no particular reason at all, rather than an egocentric obsession of needing to feel like you are idolised by those around you – that’s not healthy at all.
I’ve always been someone who is ‘up for’ doing lots of things and getting out there to make the most of my life, but recently I realised that in my career, I was at risk of missing out in a huge way. Around 2 years ago I realised that working in my relatively senior role within the Pharma industry wasn’t making me happy, and ever since I’ve been focusing on saving as much as I can, trying to make some income on the side through property and online businesses, and wishing my days away because I was so unhappy at work. Now I’m not saying this was a BAD plan – but looking back, was I just hiding behind the plans of what I was ‘going to do’ in the future, and all the while trying to convince myself that maybe I could learn to be happy in this career and that leaving the safe confines of a good salary and permanent contract weren’t wise during a recession. Sure, I was making progress towards what I wanted to do, but nothing was concrete, so I just kept moving out the date at which I was ‘definitely going to make a change’ (If this sounds familiar, keep reading!) I had all the glory of feeling like I was one of the few people following my dreams and going against the grain, without the action of committing to it.
I realised that something had to give a couple of months ago when I was thinking about my future and the kind of life I would lead – I somehow got to thinking about my Nanna (who’s 96, and more on the ball than some 26 year olds!) and all the things she must have experienced in her long life. I started thinking about the things I’d look back on at that age, and a wave of fear came over when I thought about how fast the years were going, and how quickly they would continue to creep past. I thought about my current career path and how if I stayed on it I’d probably achieve some success, make good money and work my way up, but the thought of it made me almost want to throw my laptop out the window, call my boss and tell him I’m never coming into work again. I had the ultimate FOMO. And what’s more scary than missing out on your own life? Not much!
From that day, that fear has stayed with me, and has caused me to make some decisions about my life and the path I’m on. Firstly, I’ve committed to starting a business – the thing I’ve dreamed of for going on 2 years, and leaving my job within the next 6 months. Unfortunately I have some financial commitments that I need to take care of before I can hand in my resignation, but I’ve decided that the day they are finalised, the letter will be handed in. I’ve also decided that it was time to start putting off long-term travel – which I kept telling myself would happen ‘sometime’, but enough is enough – what better ‘sometime’ than right now?! So after the resignation there will be at least 6 months travel, and after that, my focus will be getting a business off the ground. I couldn’t be more excited and relieved to have finally made this promise to myself, and it is my FOMO that continues to drive me each and every day to work towards my goals.
In a way, procrastinating about changing my life was good for me – it made me hit rock bottom, which was the shock I needed to take action and fear the thought of what it would be like to look back in old age and not be able to change things. But not everyone will hit rock bottom, and ‘bottom’ can often become the new baseline in all too many people’s careers, so don’t let procrastination and fear ruin your chance to really live a meaningful and happy life.
We only have one shot at this thing, and if we don’t ever try, we’ll never know. Don’t let the fear of failure stop you either – there are always going to be failures, I’ve had loads, and it’s a given – let failure be your motivator to succeed and learn from your mistakes along the way. When you truly find what it is that you should be doing with your life, you owe it to yourself to at least try. After all, you don’t see many 90 year olds starting businesses or taking that round the world trip they’ve always dreamed of, do you?