Is FoMO Your Biggest Barrier to Success?

By on December 15, 2013

Living in Japan offers plenty of opportunities to get out, learn, explore and try new things. From personal experience, I know that saying yes to these opportunities can be a huge catalyst for expanding your career or business, building your confidence, and growing your connections around the world. If you are like many of our clients, however, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. They fall into overwhelm because they are afraid to say no for fear of missing out on that one opportunity that could really help your business or career to thrive.
We call this FoMO – Fear of Missing Out – and it is one of the biggest barriers to your success (and sanity!). Why? FoMO causes you to invest time in things that are not aligned with your core purpose, passions and strengths in your life and work. In short, FoMO distracts you from your priorities and wastes resources that would better be used in focused pursuit of your vision.
Here are some Signs you might be suffering from FoMO:
•    You register to attend tons of networking events and then feel an impending sense of dread as the events approach, wishing that you didn’t “have to” go.  You force yourself to because you might make a connection, you know your competitors will be there, or you feel the need to be seen in the right crowds.
•    You go to social events that you would rather not attend just because your friends are going.
•    You can’t resist signing up for every network marketing / MLM opportunity that comes along even though you have yet to make any money from the ones you already belong to.
•    You jump on the bandwagon of every new social media fad that appears.
Doing things just because you are afraid of missing out drains you. Consciously choosing the events and activities you opt into in life and work because they align with your passions, interests and values will energize you. Remember, there are lots of good things out there in the world, but not all of them are meant for you. In fact, something that is great for one person might actually be bad for another.
I learned this lesson firsthand when I was living in Tokyo and had just made my decision that it was time to leave Japan after 5 years living there. The day I made my decision, a friend offered me an amazing job with his prestigious international leadership training company. It was a senior leadership position with a great salary, involved doing what I love, and would eventually allow me to move to Australia or New Zealand when they expanded there. I accepted the job because it just seemed too good to turn doww. I was afraid of missing out.
Within a few months, despite all of the great things about this job, I realized it was not for me. I wasn’t feeling excited to go to work each day and couldn’t stop thinking about going home. In my heart I knew it was time for me to return to Canada and begin building my own business, Kyosei Consulting. To be true to both myself and the company (they were about to invest a lot of money in sending me back to the UK for training for 3-6 months), I gave my notice and freed up the spot for someone who would truly love the job.
I also used to be a “workshop junkie”, attending every workshop my time and budget would allow. I was afraid to miss out on anything – especially if people I knew were going – as I was worried that they might become privy to some secret success sauce that I would miss out on. I eventually realized that I was overloading myself with information and wasn’t really applying much of what I learned. But there was so much great stuff happening out there on topics I was interested in – how could I ever decide? For a while I had to quit cold turkey. The withdrawal was intense, but it was necessary for me to see that the world did not end and my business did not implode just because I missed a workshop. After that, I developed a process of making myself wait to sign up for anything until I received the second or third invite, unless I was 100% certain that it was something that was aligned with my passions and would add genuine value to my life or work.
Two keys for taming your FoMO:
•    When you are preparing to opt in to an opportunity ask, “Why am I doing this?” If the answer involves guilt, obligation, or some form of fear of missing out then seriously consider saying no.
•    Ask, “Is this my good thing?” Just like my job opportunity above, there is no denying that certain opportunities are wonderful, but everything you say yes to with your time and energy requires you to say no to something else. Take time to evaluate if saying “yes” to the opportunity would require you to say “no” to in other areas. Would saying “yes” to the workshop mean saying “no” to your son’s hockey game, a date night with your husband, or time working on the book that you are writing? Is the potential upside worth it? How likely is the upside to occur?

About Andrea Jacques

Andrea Jacques is the founder of Kyosei Consulting and the author of Wabi-Sabi Wisdom: Inspiration for an Authentic Life (available on She has spent more than 20 years developing the potential of people and businesses worldwide, five of which were in Japan. A dynamic speaker, coach, and facilitator, her work integrates spiritual insight with top-tier leadership, wellness and sustainability consulting to help individuals and organizations build thriving, purpose-driven cultures where employees know their work truly matters. She can be contacted through her website at