Do You Suffer From FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)? Here Are 10 Ways To Avoid It!

This is article #41 to be published on the Get The Guy blog from my brother Stephen. Steve helped co-write the Get The Guy book and is a wealth of knowledge on dating and relationships.

(Photo: Nicholas Shore)

Enter Stephen

You and your best friend are sat drinking coffee, when one of you gets a text:

“ARE YOU GUYS COMING OUT TONIGHT? THIS PARTY IS GONNA BE AMAZING!”

You ask your friend what she thinks. She tells you she’s not really up for partying tonight. To tell the truth neither are you. You’re both just enjoying hanging out together. Besides, you were both out late last night. The thought of drinking and dancing for a second consecutive night doesn’t fill you both with excitement.

But another thought enters your brain: What If I’m Missing Out?

What if.

What if your friends never shut up about this party you’re about to bail on?

What if the night you chose to stay home goes down in the annals of your friends’ collective histories as “THAT NIGHT” whose very mention for years to come will be greeted with riotous laughter, your friends doubling over with mirth when they remember “what Katie did with the barman” and “that way Mike danced on the stripper pole”.

Now your brain is polluted with a concoction of anxiety, indecision, and guilt and you can’t help but squander the next hours fretting over your decision to skip a potentially awesome event. You don’t really want to go, but you’re terrified of missing a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience with your friends.

This what we call FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).

What You Need To Know About FOMO

FOMO is a plague. It’s a disease that has gone viral in an age of Instagram pics and Facebook albums teeming with photos of your friends, all of whom are always having a better time than you are.

Nowadays, there’s not only the possibility that you might miss something awesome, but there’s a good chance that you missing out will be repeatedly rubbed in your face by a string of captured memories in profile pics all defined by one common feature: YOU’RE NOT IN THEM!

And so what happens? You either become:

(a) That person who never truly enjoys any decision because you always fear you are missing THE BEST PARTY EVER (i.e. you sit at home with your friend watching movies and both spend the entire night trying to decide whether or not to go out).

(b) That person who says yes to everything, even if it makes you miserable and isn’t what you want, simply because you can’t bear the thought of missing out.

The danger of FOMO is obvious then. It either leads you to constant dissatisfaction and anxiety, or leads you to live life on others’ terms instead of your own.

Luckily, this is a disease we know how to combat. But first you’re going to have to admit you have a problem. Only then can your read the steps below and start the course of medicine that will bring you back to sanity and control of your life once again:

Rule No. 1 – You are ALWAYS where the party is at

The best way to get over your fear of missing out is to realise that you don’t need to be someone who chases good time when you are someone who knows how to have a good time.

The more fun you’re able to have in your own company, the less you’ll worry about the company you’re missing at any time.

This is a mindset you have to get into, but it’s one of the most charismatic qualities you can have. The people we want to be around in life are those who seem to make an art out of every moment, and we want to be close to them whether they’re hanging out at home watching movies or letting loose at the wildest party in town.

Rule No. 2 – Stop buying into other people’s marketing

Facebook is a marketing game. People are always selling you an image of their life – memories look sweeter, romance looks brighter, and parties look WAY more fun.

If you live your life buying into this marketing game, you’ll never overcome the fear that someone is always doing something cooler than you are. Remember this is a trick. Even holidays have boring moments, and even the crowd you assume are the most fun are usually sitting around looking to each other to alleviate their own boredom.

Rule No. 3 – There are ALWAYS other nights 

FOMO tells you that you’re missing a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Usually you’re just missing a night out, another trip, another day in the sun with friends that you can always do tomorrow. Or the next day. Or next week.

There are always other nights out. I don’t recommend this mindset for everything in your life, but do put it in perspective: Some experiences are truly once-in-a-lifetime, but for all the others you’ll get many more chances to indulge in them. Move on and look forward to the next one. If nothing else is on the horizon, start arranging your own fun night immediately and invite a great bunch to come and join you next week. Get excited by scheduling something fun in the future.

Rule No. 4 – Every second you are missing out SOMEWHERE

If you’re having a glamourous night in New York, someone is having a better night of debauchery in Vegas. While you’re enjoying a day out at your local beach, somewhere your best friend from pre-school is scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef. Oh, you’re tasting sushi in London? Well, that guy you fancied in college is sampling sashimi in Tokyo.

The competitive game of experience-junky-one-upmanship never ends. Be humbled by this and realise that, even people having the best nights of their life are being upstaged somewhere.

There’s no reason to be paranoid if you accept you’ll always be missing out somewhere in the grand scheme of things.

Rule No. 5 – Re-state your own purpose

Much of FOMO comes from lacking our own direction. We are looking to be led by others and reassured by our peers that we are spending our time on the right things, going to the right places, or more pathetically, being seen in the right places.

I’ve always found the easiest way to combat this is to re-connect with your own overriding purpose. What do you live for? How can you do something productive/passionate/fun/interesting in this moment? Even if you’re at home watching TV, couldn’t you spend that time even just watching a classic movie that you can talk about the next day, instead of just flicking through mindless reality shows? Maybe you can just use the time you’re at home to re-connect with a family member or old friend and do something positive for them.

Stuck in your studio for the night? Fine. Channel your inner Picasso and spend the night in your studio working away on something beautiful. Even if it’s tiny progress. The key to eliminating FOMO is to stop wasting the time you spend alone. Use the fact that you’re not doing what everyone else is doing to your advantage.

Rule No. 6 – Get Present and be grateful

This is the most spiritual sounding rule and also one of the most effective.

FOMO is really a symptom of not being grateful for what you have right now. You’re constantly dreaming of other potential moments instead of being thrilled with all the present moments you’re experiencing right now.

Do a 20-minute mindfulness meditation and then write down TEN things you are grateful for today. It might be hot water in the shower, the chance to call a loved one, the library of books on your shelves and all the art you have yet to discover. The more grateful you are for everything around you the less you feel like you’re missing anything at all outside of this moment.

Rule No. 7 – Some nights it’s good to be missed and loved

Not showing up for everything can be an advantage. It means you get to save your company for when you’re feeling on great form, instead of forcing it when you frankly have better things to do.

And sometimes not wanting to be at the party is just a sign you really do have better things to do. Better to leave and get them done rather than stay and worry all night.

Rule No. 8 – You never get FOMO when you’re kissing someone hot

Sometimes I like to take Fear Of Missing Out as a challenge. And that challenge is: Can I find something more memorable to do this evening/weekend than the thing I think I’m missing out on?

Are you missing out on your friend’s awesome weekend birthday trip to California? No problem, could you find yourself a date for Saturday night and end up kissing a hot guy instead? No-one gets FOMO when they know how to create great moments in their own life, and no-one wishes they were somewhere else when they’re having coffee and morning cuddles with a sexy co-worker (joke! Please for the love of God cuddle with people outside of your work).

Rule No. 9 – It’s not a crime to stay in, it is a crime to be bored doing it

FOMO can just be a sign that you’re not being creative enough.

If you truly were trying, you could find a thousand alternative ways to spend the night you’re missing out on. Do something instead that will make you feel proud the next morning, so that no matter what event you happened to forgo, you spent that time damn well (and now you’ve put yourself in a position to say ‘yes’ to another great night later).

For example, sometimes FOMO is inevitable because you have to work on a weekend, or because you’re behind on a big project you have to go home and finish. Just remember, in the grand scheme of things it’s probably better you save your career than have another picnic in the park with your friends that you can do anytime again.

Rule No. 10 – Don’t miss out on things for stupid reasons (like being behind on work!)

This is maybe the hardest rule to follow. I’ve often had FOMO in my life because I have to finish some piece of writing I’ve been putting off, and if I had only got it done earlier in my working hours I would now be free to hang out with my friends and have an enjoyable evening in their company.

This gets me angry about missing out because it means I’m missing out for a bad reason. If I had procrastinated less and got my work done on time, I wouldn’t have to skip events and stay up until 3am to finish a piece I should have handed in by 5pm.

To avoid this kind of remorse, the best tactic is to be more organised and have a stable, routine working life so that you’re more able to have spontaneous fun when the chance arises.

What are some of your ways of limiting your Fear Of Missing Out? Let me know in the comments below!

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21 Responses to Do You Suffer From FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)? Here Are 10 Ways To Avoid It!

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  1. anja says:

    such a useful article. u helped me a lot!!!! <3

  2. Amira says:

    Hi, Stephen.
    Thank you very much for this article. Perhaps, I’m not such a looser spending the night reading Nietzsche, instead of sharing party pics on facebook.^^

  3. Shev says:

    Hi Stephen:
    Amazing article and very thought provoking!! Realized I had been doing some of these things unintentional, and lovely to have it confirmed. :)
    I really need to incorporate rules 3, 6 and most definitely 10.
    Rule 3: I would say yes to things I really wasn’t interested in, and would be quite angry with myself about feeling tired the next day, due to the fear of disappointing others.
    After attending the October retreat, rules 6 about gratitude and rule 10 about the need to be disciplined with one’s work to allow for spontaneity are areas I am currently working on. I loooove that your article compliments what was discussed at the retreat!!!! Go team Hussey!!
    Warmest regards,
    Shev xx

    • Stephen Hussey says:

      Thanks so much Shev!

      It’s funny when you stop and realise how often you’ve been unthinkingly going along to certain events or hanging out with certain people without ever stopping to ask if you really want to or not. Glad this article was thought-provoking for you.

      Steve x

  4. Ilona says:

    Thank you, Steven! Your article have given me clues about what was wrong that I was doing to make my life incomplete, me feeling unsatisfied and not giving enough attention to people around me. Sometimes I need someone who can tell me, it’s ok and give me a hug without saying anything else. And I found that person right next to me and who has been there all this time. Chasing life wasn’t the best idea! Now I can feel the life because of those amazing people around me! Thank you for remindind that!)) Lots of love xxx

    • Stephen Hussey says:

      That’s beautiful, I’m really touched by that sentiment of noticing the amazing people around you. Thanks so much Ilona.

      Steve x

  5. Monika says:

    Hi Stephen,

    I really like how much thought you put into each article of yours. It shows me you take writing (and your readers) seriously. Thank you for that!

    I read the above article today and realised that I, too, suffer from FOMO. Luckily you gave us useful tips on how to overcome the fear.
    Do you think I could apply them as well, if my problem is wanting to be liked by everyone and therefore always putting others first?

    Enjoy your Friday evening! x
    Monika

    • Stephen Hussey says:

      Thanks Monika!

      I think some of the ideas definitely apply to wanting to be liked by everyone, though it is a separate problem. FOMO comes from always being afraid you’re missing something cool and is a kind of anxiety. People pleasing is also an anxiety but related to a need to always be thought well of by others. This can make you feel exhausted and stop you from doing important things because you’re afraid of how you’ll be judged. The way to combat both problems (i.e. FOMO or People Pleasing) is to realise that they are holding you back from prioritising your OWN importance and following your own path. Essentially, they make you buy into other people’s priorities instead of your own. Realise that it’s not healthy to obsess and live by what others think, and that, no matter what we do, someone will always disapprove. Once we get over this it sets us free (the same way you can get over FOMO by realising you are always missing out SOMEWHERE).

      Hope that helps, all best.

      Stephen

      • Monika says:

        You’ve helped me tons with what you wrote, Steve! Thanks for taking the time to do so. I feel like I’ve been on a super quick brain diet – 2kg of worries and over thinking stuff are gone.
        It’s a process to get out of the vicious circle of wanting to be liked / accepted / feeling the need to please everyone… but one step at a time is a pretty good deal. I started small a couple of days ago and I already feel better and more at peace with myself.
        One of your cheeks (you choose) may feel kissed by the thankful
        Monika ;)

  6. Julia says:

    Hey,

    I really enjoyed this article. I would like to ask about something more because it gives me headaches since I was a little child..

    I can try and behave like confident people(Matthew said that charisma can be trained) but while doing that inside I feel immensely uncomfortable and I look clumsy. Everyone notices that I’m very shy, quiet and not sure of myself despite my efforts. I’ve convinced myself that I love myself even if I seem shy and that someone can love me too. But the biggest trouble is my shaking voice. I can’t take control over my physical reactions to anxiety. I can never relax before public speaking and I can’t utter a world then, I always immediately rash into the end of my speech. People then ask me what was happening with me because it’s really awkward. I tried to slow my breath, think that every human has such anxieties and that confidence is a muscle, I think of other great stuff in my life(it’s not the end of the world if my speech goes badly) but it all still doesn’t work.

    Please, can you give me some advice? Is the solution just to do all those things no matter how funny, foolish and unsuccessful I look doing that? I think I have serious troubles with my self-confidence and don’t know how to train it, how to relax in my life, use the opportunities to sell myself and enjoy every moment not worrying what other people think. I’m very prone to other people’s impact and I don’t know how to stop it. I want to start living my life and start being me so much. I really dream of myself being that charismatic, confident, unfazeable girl but when I try to follow Matthew’s advice I feel physical and emotional(“I’m not enough”) blocks, almost panic and it all has the opposite effect.

    • Stephen Hussey says:

      Hi Julia,

      This is a huge topic, and Matt has written a ton about confidence. A couple of resources I would recommend immediately off the bat are:

      1. Sam Harris’s great article about overcoming his own self-confidence problems related to public speaking: http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/the-silent-crowd-overcoming-your-fear-of-public-speaking.

      2. Matthew’s confidence secrets (free) guide, which you can find here: http://www.gettheguy.co.uk/downloads/GTG-Confidence-Secrets.pdf

      As for my own advice, I think for me, confidence came much quicker when I relaxed into the person I felt I was, instead of trying so hard to be a cartoon version of confidence (i.e big, loud, constantly trying to lead everyone). This takes a lot of practice, and it helps to put yourself in many situations in which you feel uncomfortable so that they become less uncomfortable. But I find it all becomes easier when you are able to accept your own attributes (good and bad) and use them well to your advantage. Remember that a lot of confidence is also an illusion – many people are just as confused and uncertain as you are – sometimes the trick is just moving ahead despite your own uncertainty and acting “as if” until you feel more comfortable. For example, when I walk into a party and hardly know anyone, if I just start talking to groups of people I start to build up a level of confidence until I feel more ‘at home’ than I was when I stepped in. Confidence can be something you have to repeatedly build up – it certainly doesn’t mean you won’t ever feel nerves or fear. Confidence is just seeing these feelings for what they are, which is merely thoughts in your head, and proceeding regardless.

      Hope that all helps, and thanks for sharing.

      Stephen

      • Julia says:

        Thank you for your answer and resources! I really appreciate your work and answering every little comment. I’ll definitely go through them and let you know about my progress after some time. I decided to focus myself on three concepts that in my opinion are holding me back the most and will create a huge shift in the way I live my life:
        1)It’s about me and getting what I want in life, not what others think of me and whether they like me or not.
        2)Even if I’m not a natural-born speaker, I’m worth all the best. I’m a human. I have a full right to love and be loved.
        3)It’s about being not afraid of the unknown, trusting that whatever happens, I’ll be fine(so I can enjoy every experience).

        I wish you a great day.

  7. Kiraz says:

    Hi Steve,

    It all comes down to going after rash emotions, not spending quality alone time (away from internet as well) and not having any goals in life, doesn’t it?

    Among all your suggestions, I find #5 “Re-state your own purpose” as the most important one. “What do you live for?” If only we all answered this question with brutal honesty.

    In order to answer it, I believe one must experience some hardship in life at some point in his/her life. Most of us are served our lives on a silver plate. Everything is disposal. We don’t try too hard to get something, including partners, so we never really think what our purpose in life is. Thus, trivial stuff like stressing over missing just another party becomes our main concern.

    I had been through a lot of tough times. It made me train my mind to dissect any emotion before they reach my heart. Having dreams and being emotional are different things. People confuse these two all the time. Mind control gives you emotional control. Finally, you can answer what you live for and what you really want in life. I didn’t want to get stuck in the cycle of doing the same things over and over again. The reason I left my relationships behind was usually because they didn’t have vision and spontaneity. People say “opposites attract”. I don’t believe that. Boring people are attracted to exciting people, sure, but not the other way around. I have always been the one coming up with ideas and making all the plans. Tired of it.

    Last time I went up the roof my apartment building for a party, I looked around for 10 mins while sipping my drink, all I saw was bunch of people gobbling on food with all ten fingers. I came downstairs, changed and went to the gym instead. True story. If anything people miss out by not being around me. haha! ;)

    Thank you for a great article.
    Kiraz xxxx

    • Stephen Hussey says:

      haha I like that attitude Kiraz. I’m impressed you didn’t even mind missing out on your own rooftop party. Respect ;)

      I agree, when you get back to your purpose, whether family, contributing to the world, or some other overriding mission, it’s so much easier to get clarity and let other things slide that don’t matter. Probably part of the problem comes from people being unreflective about what they are really after, which makes them feel as if they are missing out by not doing EVERYTHING.

      Thanks for your comments!

      Steve

      • Kiraz says:

        Thank you for the response, Steve. That wasn’t the first rooftop party I left in 10 min. believe me. I scan through people and see if there is anyone I can talk to. You might say that I should get to know them before I make a judgement. But whenever I ignored my intuition, I regretted it deeply. Every single time. I have been an experience junkie, as you call it. I have a lot of people experience. After all, I think there are only two types of people. Wise and unwise. Unfortunately most people in the USA are unwise.
        Enjoy your week. xxx

      • Kiraz says:

        Steve, Richard Dawkins said “We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born.” (I read it today.)

        Imagine you are missing a whole life when you are not born. Imagine the FOMO those dead sperms go through. hahaha! Who cares about a couple of parties!

        Best
        xxxx

  8. Helga Évora Morais says:

    Reading this brought me so much joy. Thank you…! Defnetly needed this!

  9. Jess says:

    Exactly what I needed to hear right now, just when my boyfriend is going away and I’ve realised I’ve spent the last several months living in fear of missing out on the great experiences he’s having. Time to get my life back in shape! Thanks Stephen x

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