How Does FOMO Impact Your Creativity?
As I continue my journey to channel as much of my time as possible toward activities I value, I’ve come to realize there’s a culprit I must confront: FOMO. That’s the Fear of Missing Out. It can lead us to exciting opportunities, helpful knowledge, and new connections. But it can also be a negative impact on our creativity, time, energy and resources.
For me, FOMO shows up mainly in my writing and volunteer lives. A lot of articles focus on the role of social media. Sure, there’s a dash of that contributing to my dilemma, but I can’t blame Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other platforms for all of it. Although there’s a whole separate discussion about how writers can feel tugged to be present on every social media platform.
FOMO Cuts Both Ways
The positive FOMO impact on my creativity? It has pushed me to get involved in writing activities and non-profit advocacy work that has enriched my life immensely. There’s my underlying interest in the subjects, of course. I wouldn’t just FOMO into something I don’t care about.
The negative happens a lot in my writing life and it’s something my critique group has been discussing. There are a gazillion webinars, courses, conferences, memberships, advice blogs and critique opportunities. Stories to be pitched on Twitter. Social media interactions to be made. Open submission periods. New agents or publishers to be researched.
Hurry, quick, sign up! Don’t miss out!
It’s too much. It’s hard to focus and be creative when pulled in so many directions. I have limited time and need to guard it carefully.
But the fear of what if . . . ? is real. What if I miss that perfect submission opportunity? What if I stagnate in my writing because I said no to that perfect course topic? What if I don’t add my voice to the latest legislative advocacy campaign related to developmental disabilities or mental illness?
So many what ifs. This is where I’ve had the most FOMO impact on my creativity and ability to take care of myself.
I don’t have a tidy triage checklist figured out, but I did start being more mindful last year. I’m sharing in case it helps stimulate ideas for managing FOMO in your life. My examples:
- I evaluated different writing educational programs and selected one primary platform for this year.
- I stopped participating in every Twitter pitchfest and author mentorship application call.
- I stopped some (admittedly, not all) of my multitasking where I half-listen to webinars while tackling my to do list.
- I made peace with the truth that I’ll never keep up with all of the great books for children and adults being released that I’d like to read.
- I continue to clean up my subscriptions. This one is hard. I’d love to spend a day each week reading what other writers have to share.
- I continue to closely triage the volunteer work I can do. Another hard one. I’d love to spend another day each week plugging in to all of the advocacy work that matters to me. Maybe when I eventually retire?
JOMO vs. FOMO
Apparently, JOMO is now the call to action as an antidote to FOMO. That’s the Joy of Missing Out. I don’t feel ready to go there all the way. FOMO has led me to some great experiences. I even set a writing goal this year to do something that scares me (still working on what).
So, I’m going to keep focusing on opting in when I feel a) FOMO will impact my creativity in a positive way or add other value to my life and b) I can make capacity. I guess that’s JOMO. But without completely rejecting FOMO.
What about you? How does FOMO show up in your life? Does FOMO impact your creativity? In good or unproductive ways? Where do you sit on the FOMO to JOMO continuum?
A Few FOMO Readings
There are countless articles and several books on this topic. Here are just a few:
- Fear of Missing Out: Practical Decision-Making in a World of Overwhelming Choice by Patrick McGinnis (creator of the term FOMO), Sourcebooks, May 5, 2020, and his related 50-minute talk about it
- The Fear of Missing Out web article
- Don’t let Fear of Losing Out (FOMO) kill your creativity
- This Is the Best Way to Overcome Fear of Missing Out
- A simple method to help you establish what’s important is to name your priorities.
- From FOMO to JOMO: the joy of missing out