The Upside of FOMO: Motivation

May 16, 2022

When you are decisive, you say no to many things. That also means that you have to learn to control the urge to feel FOMO.  In fact, if you learn to control FOMO, you accept that you simply cannot do everything and that you will miss out on certain experiences. Despite your best efforts, you may struggle with indecision along the way. It’s important to remember that not all FOMO is bad. You can actually learn a lot from FOMO if you listen to it. After all, it’s constantly whispering in your ear to provide you with ideas and inspiration. Most of the time, it’s going to serve as little more than a distraction, but that’s not always the case.

If you find yourself feeling persistent FOMO with regards to the same opportunity or decision, perhaps you should listen to that little voice in your head, the one that asks, “What if?” Your intuition might be telling you something important: You should open your eyes, look around at your surroundings, and try something new. Tackle a new goal, take a new step, and break the routine! That’s easier said than done if you’ve already got a life full of commitments, but there is a way to channel your FOMO for good. You can wander down the path you didn’t choose without upsetting the one that you did. You can stop dismissing possibilities out of hand before trying to think differently about how you might actually make them happen. Whatever you choose to do, your goal is to figure out how you can make FOMO work for you so that life isn’t quite so black and white and cut-and-dried—it can be far more nuanced.

The secret to harnessing FOMO and reframing it for good comes down to how you decide to act. Whether you are exploring new adventures, building a business, or trying to change the world, you don’t have to go all in. Instead, you can go all in, some of the time. That’s a form of conscious multitasking that allows you to listen to your sub-conscious, learn from it, and then use it for motivation.  It also allows you to challenge yourself and your perception of what is possible without radically changing the rest of your life or going broke.

So, if you want to leverage your FOMO productively, how do you do it? Follow these steps to get started:

  1. Listen to your FOMO and see what it’s telling you?  What experience or challenge are you looking to take on and where do you feel inspired to spent your time?
  2. Investigate that thing that’s giving you FOMO.  Once you strip away all the excitement and emotion, what’s left? If you dream of being an entrepreneur, do you actually want to put in the miles?  If you dream of running a marathon, are you willing to put in the miles?  Ask yourself – what kind of time, energy, money, and other resources would this endeavor require?  Then ask yourself – do you have the resources you need to make things happen?
  3. Make a plan of action.  Write down a “business plan” for the endeavor you want to explore and ensure that it can be executed within the constraints of the resources you have to invest.  Don’t change your life radically, just make enough space to explore this new passion or interest to see if you even like it.  Then, go out and try it on for size and see if it lives up to your expectations.
  4. Assess how you feel.  Is this thing that gave you all that FOMO living up to what you hoped for?  Are you feeling motivated and inspired or are you wishing you could quit?  The answer to this question will be all you need to take the final step.

If you have learned that this new project or passion truly lights you up, then go ahead and make a plan to raise the stakes and spend even more time on it.  Otherwise, move on.  Life is too short to spend your free time on things that you don’t get your excited.  So, let it go and get ready for the next adventures.


- Patrick J. McGinnis, author of Fear of Missing Out

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