One of my favorite local talk show hosts was chatting about an interesting topic last week: FOMO, the fear of missing out. This particular discussion was lightly chiding folks who “suffer” from FOMO.
Then I started thinking about FOMO from a professional point of view.
This topic keeps coming up with regard to digital marketing. People fear they are “missing out” on something if they’re not keeping up with the latest technology, platform, or social media tool.
I’ve heard it countless times. I’ve suffered from professional FOMO from time to time.
For me, it’s a result of several factors:
I’m a competitive guy. I want to win, badly, and when it comes to digital marketing, staying out in front can be crucial to your success. Plus, I’m constantly paranoid about what others in our industry are up to and how they handle this challenge.
Clients are constantly asking me about the next big thing in social media marketing and PR. They want to feel like they’re a step ahead, and they expect me to keep them there. Sometimes I have the answers they’re looking for, and sometimes I don’t (but I always do research and come back with the answer eventually). But the pressure to stay one step ahead is always there.
Like many small-business owners and entrepreneurs—although I wouldn’t characterize myself as an entrepreneur—I’m paranoid and terribly insecure when it comes to my business. (I tend to think that’s what good business people do; different story for a different time though.) For me, insecurity is a big part of this. I’m constantly worrying whether others know more about certain topics than I do and about what that means for my future.
My FOMO has manifested itself in many ways over the last few years. Making sure I was all over Twitter. Making sure I was reading the right sites/blog. Making sure I knew all about the latest tools and platforms.
Once I got my business going and really started to think about this, I thought: “This is ridiculous. I can’t possibly keep up with all this stuff.”
No one can.
That’s when it hit me: I’m not missing out on anything.
That extra hour on Twitter in the evening—what was it really getting me? Couldn’t I do without that and spend the time with my wife and/or kids instead?
That time I was spending reading blogs on the weekend—couldn’t I channel that into shooting hoops with my son or playing golf with a friend instead?
All that time spent researching new tools—couldn’t I use that to work even harder for my clients and hone my new business strategies?
Of course I could, and I did. For the last couple of years, I’ve spent far less time on Twitter. I’ve read fewer blogs. And I’ve spent less time trying to stay on top of the latest tool or platform—and more time working for people I see every week/month right here in the Twin Cities.
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This isn’t to say I don’t value checking out Twitter, reading blogs, and connecting with people via social networks. I’ve found great value in those areas, and I have no doubt I will do so down the road, too.
It’s not because I have a “fear of missing out,” though.
What about you? Are you a professional FOMO sufferer?
Arik Hanson is principal of ACH Communications. A version of this article originally ran on his blog, Communications Conversations.