FOMO: Justified or not, that is the question

MediaIf you have read my title you are either wondering what the heck I am on about, or you actually know what the word means. I fall into the first category. My introduction to this word occurred when the question When is FOMO justified was posed in an article I was reading.  It got my attention and hopefully my post now has yours.

I am familiar with the expression.  I wasn’t aware though that an acronym existed and was in use. The article I was reading was centred on writing but the more I delved into it, the more I concluded FOMO had so much more to say.

Let’s get the meaning out of the way first so that we are all on the same page. It means very simply – Fear of Missing Out.  Kate Colby who wrote the article discusses it in relation to independent authors. I self-published so naturally my interest was captured. I try to read as much on the subject as I can because the process still scares the you know the word I mean, out of me. Anyway the reading took me off on a tangent when I realised how pertinent to life in general FOMO actually is.

Let’s get the writing part out of the way. If you have followed my journey you will know that in self-publishing the writer is responsible for everything. Hence why it scared me at the start and continues to do so. There are so many decisions to make, and so much to know. It is relentless, it is tiring. Hiring professionals helps if you can afford it but ensuring the money is used wisely is an agonising decision. In short, the arena is already a minefield without adding FOMO to the mix.

What if you make the wrong choices and miss on being an international best-seller (please allow me my small fantasies) because of it? Did you revise your work enough, did you pick the right cover and by the way which media tools have been employed? What about…and then there is… and of course we can’t leave out…wait a minute we didn’t use… and so it goes on and on, a revolution (I don’t mean a war) in our heads focusing so much on not missing opportunities that most likely we don’t see them to miss them.

We could spend forever chasing new media crazes, new techniques and never get to the success heaven we covertly and too often overtly, crave.  Why? Because, and yes I know I shouldn’t start a sentence this way, the plain truth is as the article shows too well, FOMOing around interferes with getting the job done.  However the article also makes it clear that at times it is justified.

If your new toy (technique, media or whatever else) “aligns with your goals, makes good business sense, works for other authors with similar goals, and doesn’t leave you with the nagging sensation that you’ve wasted resources or the guilt that you’ve ignored what’s really important” then it is justified. For other authors please feel free to substitute the words with other professions, desires or obsessions?

The question is – do we think things through?  Or, do we jump on the bandwagon because we are experiencing FOMO? The Oxford English Dictionary explains the meaning as “anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media.” When applied to writing this is very apt.  When applied to life it is no less applicable.  We are always reaching for that new shiny object that will make our life easier. It’s why we update appliances so often and not just phones, and not just appliances. Cars, houses, clothes, and sometimes even friends fall into this category. I’m not saying we shouldn’t do everything possible to succeed but perhaps the old adage about working smarter and not harder still applies.

 Kate Colby  says we often feel like we have to be some sort of super human being because the pressure to choose wisely is so fierce. I agree with this when it comes to self-publishing, or traditional publishing, and I also agree that this pressure is on us in life in general and not just in our working lives. What’s worse is we do it do ourselves. There is a bucket load of information available out there on anything and everything.

If we know our goals, and the actions we need to follow in order to make success possible, then we don’t need to constantly run around like headless chooks.  We need to try things with careful consideration based on careful research, and we need to be consistent in our evaluations before chopping and changing. If we catch ourselves working harder but not smarter then we need to smartly re-consider.  

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The shiny new toys can prove useful but let’s decide carefully which ones to choose. I say that but FOMO rears its ugly head once again despite my knowing better. I have learned not to listen to that insidious voice.  I am plodding along with my re-edit and writing down a workable plan for when the time comes to re-launch my eBook and newly launch my print copy.

Don’t you just love my cover? I do and I guess that is the point. It was on my plan and thanks to the talented artist I am most happy with my choice (more on artists and choosing covers and print copies next time including a link to Chris Brunton who has done my art work). In as far as FOMO is concerned, I accept it exists but I will do the best I can with what is possible in my realm of possibilities, and I will keep my eyes and ears open to new ideas without the anxiety. Well, I hope I will. What about you? What do you think?


With best regards till next time,



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  1. Age does give insight. We make our lives harder which seems such a waste of precious time.
    Love how much I learn from your posts. Thanks for stopping by and please come back again.

  2. Hi, Barb. Thank you for writing this insightful post and expanding on my conversation about FOMO. While the focus of my blog is writing, I absolutely agree that FOMO can expand into all aspects of life. (I’m sure many people have felt it when scanning their Facebook feed and observing their friends’ carefully crafted “lives.”)

    Like Jeremy said above, I think age has a lot to do with overcoming FOMO. Similarly, I think education and experience can play a big part. The more you know about your field (or just life in general), the less likely you are to entrap yourself in things that waste your time. I don’t have age on my side yet, but I’m trying to focus on educating myself about what strategies actually work in self-publishing and giving myself valuable experiences in the field.

    Best of luck in your own publishing and FOMO-beating endeavors! (And nice cover, by the way. The butterfly detail that spans the front, back, and spine is really cool!)

  3. Thanks Kate. Young or not I will be following your posts. You have some great stuff to say and I want to learn as much as I can, and I know I can from people like you.
    I do love my butterfly. I am actually considering a change to something similar for use as my picture in my media. Chris is very innovative. I wish I could edit and write faster so I can see what else he comes up with (lol).

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