Does the Fear of Missing Out Make You Anxious?

August 28, 2015

~by Rebecca Schaeffer~

Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) is a constant, underlying concern for always living life to the fullest, so as not to miss out on possible opportunities, experiences or connections. It can manifest as debilitating indecision, based on a fear that taking action in one direction will eliminate other possible outcomes. It can also cause you to say yes to every opportunity, without discernment or an accurate conception of what brings you joy. While it is normal to feel this anticipatory regret from time to time, FoMO takes you out of the moment because you are constantly thinking about the future. And not just any future: all possible futures.

Fear of Missing Out

Don’t let Fear of Missing Out overwhelm or paralyze you.

Dr. Dan Hermon has been researching FoMO as a motivation, personality factor and socio-cultural phenomenon for the past 17 years. His research shows that approximately 70% of all adults, in both developed and developing countries, experience FoMO to various degrees. In 2013, FoMO was added to the Oxford English Dictionary: the “Fear of Missing Out refers to the feeling of anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere.”

FoMO is based on a false perception that we somehow have the ability to exhaust all possible options before making a decision. It assumes that all options are not only open (or should be available) to us, all of the time, but that each of these options is also equally valid. FoMO is rooted in a desire to control one’s life, to choose experiences based on the perceived loss of not exploring each option.

Does FoMO sound familiar?

  • When flooded with a multitude of options, do you feel paralyzed and overwhelmed, unable to overlook the value in each one?
  • Do you struggle with making firm commitments when there are other enticing possibilities (whether tangible or imagined)? Do you wait to make plans until the last minute because you never know what might come up? Or do you book your schedule too full, rushing from one activity to the next, trying to fit everything in?
  • Can you appropriately delegate tasks to your staff, with full trust that they will keep you informed of the things you need to know about, or do you feel the need to maintain control?
  • Can you put down a book, stop a movie or leave a social engagement midway through if it doesn’t capture your attention?
  • Could you go a day without social media? How about a week? Or even a month? If you check social media regularly, could you stop after only a few minutes, without scrolling all the way through your news feed?

How to combat FoMO?

First, we must remember that missing out is a physical inevitability in life. Instead of focusing on what is possible, focus on only those opportunities and experiences that resonate most with you. Remember the goals you are trying to achieve for your business and for your overall priorities in life. Each person is unique. By fully expressing your unique quirks and following your individual passion, you will be able to contribute to the world in the ways that match your personal gifts. Just because someone else enjoys an activity, is good at something, or has gained notoriety by following a particular path, this doesn’t automatically mean that you will too. A career field, marketing strategy, or business plan may be a good idea, but it doesn’t mean that it is necessarily good for you. Learn to make choices based on what brings you the most excitement, what feels the most light and energetic, and what brings you the most joy. If something feels compulsive, tedious or heavy, examine whether it could be linked to your FoMO instead of your authentic self. If so, choose consciously to miss out, and let it go.

Is there a good side of FoMO?

When FoMO is understood as a natural human tendency, it can help push us outside of our comfort zone. It can drive us to lead richer, fuller lives, and it can motivate us to become our best selves – as long as we resist the temptation to let it draw us out of the moment or miss human connection because of some perceived better future outcome.

Interested in exploring more?

Check out these articles here, here, and here; or read Sherry Turke’s book Alone Together.

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Fear of Missing Out

Rebecca Schaeffer

Meet the Author: Rebecca Schaeffer

As a contributing guest blogger and local leader in the field of non-profit management, Rebecca offers personal organizing and business consulting services.  She works with individuals seeking to simplify and remove clutter from their lives, and she also works with business owners looking to optimize their organizational capacity and efficiency. 

To learn more about how Rebecca can help you or your business get organized, please email her at:


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