S.O.S.: you might suffer from F.O.M.O.! ( About Fear of Missing Out and Shiny Object Syndrome)

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I am attracted by the endless possibilities around me, all the stuff I´d like to learn and do, both on the personal and the professional level:

  • preparing for the AWS Solutions Architect, building a RasperryPI + React + Lambda Application, blogging on more technical topics, etc…
  • repairing my bike, juggling, editing photo books and videos from my trips

This does not sound bad indeed, it is a very good attitude: I am an open, curious, driven person!

Not quite.

I am distracted by the endless possibilities around me. Whatever I am doing I always fear I should be doing something else instead.

I am blogging — I´d better be working on some pet project!
I am working at the pc — I should read a book!
I am bouldering indoor — I´d better be slacklining in the fresh air under the sun!
I am doing anything above — I should spend more time playing with my kids!

I am a restless, unsatisfied person.

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I heard a lot about the so-called FOMO — Fear Of Missing Out and I thought that was exactly my problem. But then I started reading about it — according to it is

the uneasy and sometimes all-consuming feeling that you’re missing out — that your peers are doing, in the know about, or in possession of more or something better than you

and this means that

you are not participating as a real person in your own world.

Sorry. but that´s not my case. I do A LOT in my own world, at work, at home, on my own, and with my wife and kids. And I never feel envious of others, even though especially with social networks — the exposure to their people´s digital life aggravates my fear of missing out some interesting things in life ( hobbies I should try, places I should visit etc). But not because of envy towards them, just because they contribute to making my todo-list longer and longer.

Then I read about the SOS — shiny object syndrome:

A disease of distraction where you always see something new and more exciting to do than what you are already doing. It often affects entrepreneurs specifically because of the qualities that make them unique — since they tend to be highly motivated, they crave new technology and new developments and they aren’t afraid to start new projects and create new things.

Ok, I am not an entrepreneur, but it sounds pretty accurate!

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OK, time to sit down and complete the React course I bought on Udemy… But first, let´s just read this post about Vue on Medium!

Then the definition went on:

It’s similar to a child or an animal seeing something shiny far away, getting attracted to it, but losing their interest in it as they approach it. The shininess disappears, and so does the interest in the object.
The entrepreneur chases project after project, and change after change never settles with one option.

Mmm, that´s not me. Well, sometimes I don´t even start doing something because I know that there might be something more interesting coming next, but normally when I start something I always finish it.

My problem is that I want to do too many things and this causes:

  • lack of sleep — insomnia: go to bed late to finish something, wake up early to start something — wake up in the middle of the night because of I forgot to do something or I had some new idea)
  • guilt feelings about what I am doing or I should do (like now… I spent way to much time on this blog post! :-( )
  • difficulty in switching off: I can not just sit down and relax and do nothing. it´s a waste of time!!

So? Whatever the definition… I really like that I have a full life. I just need to appreciate more what I do and have instead of thinking what´s next? or what else?

Right now my action points are:

spend less time on social networks

I quit FB 2 years ago and since then I found myself with so much more time on my hands…

set goals and allocate times

I use to define a kind of Kanban board for the stuff I am doing and want to do, and if I have new ideas I put them in the inbox column. By the time I will sort them and sprint plan the next task many of them are already forgotten/lost interest and can be dropped. Unfortunately, I am not a very good project manager of myself and not so disciplined yet but I am working on it.

be mindful — focus on the right now and right here.

practice gratitude

I am still trying to force myself into meditating regularly ( using Headspace or Insight Timer — and into a kind of gratitude logbook — but I find it very very hard. Those practices still look a bit too “new-age_ish_”/ sappy for my tastes, but I am sure they would definitely help.

In the end, the mantra that I try to repeat to myself is just this, and it´s the hardest thing to learn:

accept the fact that you can´t do everything, and if you try to, you´ll end up doing even less.

Do you experience such issues? What is your strategy?

header_pic: me and my family upside down in a shiny object on top of Pico Ruivo on Madeira Island

Originally published at on April 8, 2019.

Sport addicted, productivity obsessed, avid learner, travel enthusiast, expat, 2 kids. Technical Lead (NodeJs Serverless)

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