How do we deal with FOMO in business?

Have you ever felt like you were in the wrong room, physically, or figuratively, and stayed there, even though your intuition was telling you, in a myriad of ways, that you were in the wrong place?

I’m sure I‘m not alone in this, but a recent experience where my rising awareness of the miss-fit between myself and the situation helped me to decide to leave, made me curious. I’d first suspected I was a square peg 6 months earlier, so why had I stayed?

Human beings are wired for connection

As Brene Brown told us in Daring Greatly, “Connection is why we’re here. We are hardwired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering.”

We yearn to be with people like us. We tend to respond eagerly and optimistically to invitations and opportunities that promise to connect us with others. And in the entrepreneurial world, this receptivity extends to welcoming opportunities to join or invest in groups and programs where we’ll learn new skills that we can apply in our businesses.

That was the case with me. I had become a paid member of this particular group almost 12 months ago when, in the midst of the first COVID-19 repercussions, I was looking for inspiration and productivity in equal parts. After attending a really valuable introductory workshop, I was eager to join the program and to participate in the online community.

At first there appeared to be a great fit between my needs and what being involved in this group would offer me. The originator and facilitator is a really savvy and successful businesswoman and I admired her methodology and looked forward to learning and growing and the accountability that the group offered.

And in the first few sessions, I certainly did learn and grow. I was surrounded by smart and ambitious businesswomen, all equally focused on expansion and being of service. But over a few months, something shifted, and the regular group meetings started to feel heavy rather than inspiring. I felt myself seeing the bookings in my calendar and tensing up a little. When my body barometer started sending me these clear messages, it was up to me to stop and take a closer look at them. If I had, I’d have likely understood what was causing them and made a simple decision back then to exit the group.

But I didn’t. Instead, I chose to (mostly unconsciously) soldier on, turning up each month, hoping to ride out these feelings, and become admirably productive and accountable once more.

Why don’t we immediately trust our intuition?

As business owners, we are regularly assailed by a long list of all the things we need to do to be “successful”.

A fabulous website that’s mobile-friendly and well optimised for the search engines, regular content development that informs and educates via blogs, videos, podcasts, webinars and masterclasses, connections and visibility through the social media platforms you choose – Facebook, Linked In, Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok, Pinterest, Clubhouse just for starters, with algorithms that change on a seemingly daily basis, opt-ins and google analytics, and newsletters and, and, and…

That’s only the tip of the online iceberg! We’ve not even got to messaging and packaging and pricing and delivery…

With all of the moving parts the average business owner has to contend with, all of the should’s and musts and have to’s that are on our plate, it’s no wonder we can lose connection with our own inner voice that wants to let us know what feels right for us. And perhaps even more importantly, what feels wrong.

Fitting in or belonging are business choices

As connected as we long to be, Brene also cautions us to be discerning in The Gifts of Imperfection: “Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.”

I believe these wise words are equally applicable to business choices in two important ways.

Firstly, when you’re strongly connected to a clear sense of purpose, backed up by a vision and mission and you use these clarity tools to help you connect to your most aligned clients, it becomes easier to choose the marketing and communication strategies and tools that you are naturally drawn to. I talk about this more and provide a worksheet to download on Episode 110 in the Your Next Chapter Podcast.

A platform, strategy or tactic is only going to be valuable for you when you’re inspired to work with it, aka: when you feel you belong there. There’s honestly no point in trying to “fit into” the Twitterverse if it just doesn’t resonate with you, to try and flourish on Facebook if you’re morally opposed to Mark Zuckerberg or to reel about on Instagram if you just feel ridiculous.

Yes, you do need to consider where you most aligned clients are, so you can connect with them, but consistency is one of the most impactful strategies available to you, and showing up consistently is far more likely in an environment where you feel you belong, where you can relax and be who you are.

Secondly, when you are clear on what belonging feels like, you’ll quickly tune into your intuition when it sends you signals of uncomfortability:

These signals can vary – you might find that you’re:

  • Striving to prove yourself with attention-grabbing behaviours
  • On conversely, staying waaaay in the background
  • Questioning your worth – feeling that the other people (in the group/on the platform/attending the meeting) are far more qualified or talented than you
  • Or conversely, telling yourself that you’re far better than everyone else
  • Procrastinating, avoiding the work that needs to be done in the context of this group/experience (even though it’s explicitly what you signed up for)
  • Overdelivering, but at a far lower standard than usual, mistaking quantity for quality
  • Having high levels of FOMO (fear of missing out), an often vague and unquantifiable belief that something valuable will be forever out of your grasp if you step away

And many more.

What did I learn and decide?

Each Sunday I spend about 30 minutes completing my Weekly Planner. This is a simple pen and paper system that I developed for myself about 5 years ago that has proved its value time and time again. A big part of the power of this 3-page planner is the reflection questions that it contains, one of which is “What didn’t happen and why do you think that was?”

This weekend, when my almost non-involvement in the group appeared again (I opted out after just 20 minutes of a 2-hour session), I paused and combined this fact with the feelings I had when I’d been there. I began to see that I was simply, literally “in the wrong room”. I was surrounded by lovely businesswomen, yes, but they had a very different focus, market and client to me and the program catered more to this segment than to mine. This difference required a very different marketing approach. It was a valuable and relevant program, absolutely, just not valuable and relevant for me, right now.

I was also to see that that FOMO had been working its toxic influence on mte. Membership in this group also provided me with access to an online program that I felt I just could not lose. However, when I actually took the time to look through the program, I could see that I already had a good handle on the content it covered. I’d assumed it’s extra value to me, yet had never until then, even taken the time to look at it!

Growth or Fixed Mindset?

Please don’t get me wrong, I believe I do have a growth, rather than a fixed mindset and so I appreciate that being exposed to different points of view and experience can be immensely valuable. In the Business Masterminds for women I facilitate, that’s one of the key benefits – we get to lean into the fresh perspectives and insights that a different point of view provides. But this benefit is both contextual and personal.

In this instance, my sensitivity to falling into the Comparison Trap and thus, being vulnerable to trying to fit in by changing my own marketing focus far outweighed the potential benefit. When I combined this truth with the audience focus of the group and the now dispelled FOMO myth, it made it easy to make my decision. It was time to leave.

You can tell when you’ve made the right decision for you. You usually feel lighter emotionally and physically, with clouds of positivity wafting around you, and that’s exactly how I feel right now!

I’d like you to try this exercise too. Take a few moments to check in with how you’re feeling about the groups or programs you’re involved in at the moment. Tune into your own body barometer. Do you feel you belong, that the experience aligns with both your business ethos and your personal style? Or are you twisting you or your business into a different version of you to fit in, because you think that’s how it has to be?

Dialling up this aspect of self-awareness may be a ticket to an extra dose of freedom in Your Next Chapter, just like it has been for me this week.

Angela Raspass Business Coach & Self Worth Educator

 

Be more focused and productive with this weekly planner

Angela Raspass

Business Mentor, Author and Founder of the Centre for Self Worth, Angela blends strategy & self-worth to support business owners & leaders develop sustainable, impactful & fulfilling visions. What will unfold in Your Next Chapter?

1 Comment

  1. Melissa Healy on July 21, 2021 at 7:35 am

    Great article Angela – thank you very much. I love the fitting in vs belonging analogy -it really resonates on a few fronts including the type of work/jobs I do (need to play to my strengths and delegate the rest😅).
    Could I trouble you to forward me your latest version (?) of your weekly planner …I’m still really struggling with prioritisation, scheduling and fitting everything in …maybe another look/go at your planner would help?!😅

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