Fear of Missing Out – what a horrible feeling, don’t you think?
©Marcin Górzyński Photography, used with permission. See more at marcingorzynski.com
Last week I was going to see the client in Katowice to help them with digital transformation of the business. Super exciting stuff I like to do with entrepreneurs and owners of the companies. At the same time, I was synchronizing the travel with my daughter who is traveling to Katowice weekly to attend medical school there. I work in the morning, and she studies, on the way back we talk about life. I genuinely love those moments when I can connect and intertwine all things I love in one day. The rituals that we develop, like whoever gets to the station first buys coffee, are part of what makes my life full. We were shocked getting to the platform, as it was full of people and this train is usually half empty. Suddenly I was greeted by many business people I know all asking the same question – “Am I going to the conference as well?” „Which one of the two conferences will I be attending?” Well, no – I decided not to go to conferences anymore unless I am asked to be a speaker at one – so I did not even register that there is a conference in Katowice.
Woody Allen in his famous quote says that “80 percent of success is showing up”. So basically you have to be in it to win it. I was writing this on a train full of people going to a conference in Katowice which I am not attending. Quite frankly I have missed the fact that today is opening day of the conference and booked my ticket on a day that every sit on this usually empty train to Vienna was occupied. What a miss.
On the platform, I have met many people I know, who are going to this conferences, and I have immediately faced my FOMO – Fear of Missing Out – anxiety that something interesting and exciting is happening somewhere else to where we currently are. Gaining financial freedom allowed me to make many choices I was not able or willing to make before. However, over two decades of being immersed in corporate cultures create desires I sometimes find surprisingly popping up. Questions like “Why did I miss the conference date?”; “Whom I could meet there?”; “Should I reschedule this day?”; “Should I stay overnight and add one more day in Katowice?” and many more. What a cacophony of FOMO thoughts. It worked better than caffeine to make me awake momently.
It took me a good half an hour on the train to have an internal talk in my head calming myself down and explaining to myself that this is ok that I do not follow the crowd in this particular moment. I realized who I am and what I want to achieve today: I am there with my daughter, and we spend time together. Not “quality time” – just time together, possibly the most important thing one can give a child – their presence. I have planned series of meetings with client’s team, and they are expecting my contribution. I want to write my book about gaining independence through financial freedom. That should be it.
However, this voice in my head continued to ask questions on what will be happening in Katowice where I am not. Then the social media bombardment started. Everybody posted a picture or two from the discussions or panels he or she were part of. It looked like interesting and exciting stuff – and I was not there! What a miss. Or not? FOMO is a terrible thing to deal with. It takes the understanding of oneself, one’s priorities as well as clear and pure focus on what matters to us now. It is a balance between focus and not closing off on interesting external opportunities that come our way in life. It is a balance between planning how to build a bridge across a river and using things that flow down that river to help us build it. I like my bridges to be elegant and sturdy. Therefore I construct them to well thought out and calculated plans. This discipline allowed me to be entirely independent and achieve the level of financial freedom I planned 20 years ago.
If you were in Katowice on Europen Economic Congres and Europen Start-up Days let me know what I missed, I would be very grateful as the share of FOMO is still there in me. Please also comment on this article and let me know how you address FOMO in your life.